I have heard it said many times that as a pastor you need to either “read or get out of the ministry.” It’s a great challenge. And one that needs to be taken seriously.
Last week I read a book by Dr. Tim Kimmel entitled Grace Based Parenting (you can purchase it here). It’s a book that every parent needs to read. Let me share with you a few quotes that really resonated with me and challenged me deeply in how I view my role as a parent.
“Grace-based parents spend their time entrusting themselves to Christ. They live to know God more. Their children are the daily recipients of the grace these parents are enjoying from the Lord. If you watch them in action, they appear to be peaceful and very much in love with God.” (pg. 19)
“God gives us their childhood (especially their teenage years) to let them practice making decisions under our roofs. Simple logic would say that if children are going to struggle and make bad choices, it’s better that they do so while they remain involved with loving parents to help them through it. When parents don’t let them practice, children often overreact to the freedom when they go to college or go out on their own. Unfortunately, those mistakes can do greater harm to them. Grace-based parenting is shrewd about helping children grow up and develop independence before they are sent out on their own.” (pg. 107)
“That’s where they need to be encouraged by our example to put their hope in God. They need to see us turning to God with confidence when we are afraid, out of energy, out of ideas, or out of money. They need to see how we have trusted Him to overcome our helplessness in every situation.” (pg. 107)
“Seeing the word risk and assuming it is “reckless” is a convenient cop-out for people living in safe, fear-based Christian circles…You can’t dump your children on the front porch of the religous professionals or educators and think you’ve done your duty. You can’t prop them up with evangelical clubs or youth programs that have them doing a lot of biblical calisthenics and think they are somehow prepared. You might actually have to lead them across the battlefield yourself. It is not an easier form of parenting–just better. In the long run, this way produces spiritually strong and sound children.
Raising children in evangelical hideaways and creating a spiritual Disneyland works directly against the development of an empowered relationship with Jesus Christ. If anything, safe Christianity isn’t about a relationship with Jesus Christ; it’s about a relationship with a Western, middle-class caricature of Jesus Christ.” (pg. 117)
“Not allowing your children to do innocent but different things is the logical outgrowth of a belief system that emphasizes the symbols of faith rather than its substance.” (pg. 147)
One of the things this book really challenged me on was how easy it place blame on environments rather than really dealing with what is going on in the hearts of our children. There certainly needs to be boundaries and we must use wisdom when thinking about the environments our children are in…but our greatest challenge is to let them see the depravity of their heart and the glory of the Gospel!