As a parent of two children, every day is a new day to learn and a new day to grow. I have come to the great reality that about the time I get everything figured out, I realize all over again that I know so little. I am growing to learn in this process that my life and my actions matter in my children’s lives and how I lead my children has eternal consequences.
God has blessed Jennifer and I with two wonderful, beautiful daughters. Generally they obey what we tell them and are sweet to others. On a regular basis at church people tell us how sweet our dear pks are. With all of that said, the great challenge of raising my kids is the same challenge all parents have. We are charged with leading our children who are born with sinful hearts towards godliness. All children are born with a nature bent towards selfishness and sin. Mine are no exception.
The area that God is growing me is in leading my children towards the gospel. Here is my temptation – when my kids have a fight, when they disobey, or when they lie, my inclination is to quickly punish them so that they connect their wrong behavior with a consequence. That’s what I’m supposed to do as a parent do, right? Wrong.
I am learning that behavior modification does not fix my children’s greatest problem. Their biggest problem is not the outward actions of a sinful heart, it is the fact that they have sinful hearts. If I am not careful as a parent, I can raise two whitewashed tombs, who are behaviorally sound on the outside but still void of any good on the inside. A religious, well mannered child is still as lost as the irreligious, misbehaving child. Here is the big lesson I have learned – changing the outside of my kids does not change their inside.
God is growing me to see that I must lead my kids to see the wrongness of their actions with the full understanding that only Jesus can change their hearts. My greatest goal as a parent is not to “fix” my kids, instead it is to lead my kids to the only one who can take a heart prone towards sin and change it to a heart that embraces righteousness.
I think for all of us, if we are not careful, we subtly accept behavioral modification instead of the gospel. Jesus Christ alone has the power to change a broken heart. Let us go to Him.