Orienting Our Parenting Priorities

Children Desiring God Blog // Orienting Our Parenting Priorities

As parents, we want many things to be true of our children as they grow and mature. For example, we want our children to be loving, respectful, caring, productive, motivated, resilient, happy, and more. All are good things and worthwhile goals. All require some measure of our time and attention as we instruct and train our children toward these goals. But consider these words from 3 John 4:

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

This simple statement can serve to orient all of our parenting. It directs us to what is most important: More than anything else, our children need to know, embrace, and walk in the truth—the truth of God. The truth revealed in His Word has the power to make them wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ—the truth that all-satisfying and everlasting joy is found in Him alone, the truth that saving faith will be evidenced by a life that submits to the Savior and walks in His ways, the truth that we are to live all of life for the glory of God!

What a wonderful privilege and sacred responsibility God has entrusted to us! If we, as parents, are to pursue this God-glorifying vision for our children, we must make sure to carefully prioritize and maximize our children’s spiritual instruction. While there is an important role for the wider body of Christ (the church) in biblical instruction, parents have the primary responsibility and the greatest opportunity to influence their children’s spiritual development. (See Deuteronomy 6:4-9.)

One thing that often hinders parents in this regard is the pressure of competing demands on our time and energy. These are valid concerns. But consider for a moment these thoughts from Pastor Chap Bettis in his book, The Disciple-Making Parent: A Comprehensive Guidebook for Raising Your Children to Love and Follow Jesus Christ:

“Where does discipling my child fit with the other priorities?” Surrounding us are parents making superhuman sacrifices for their children’s soccer practice, hockey practice (5 a.m. ice time?), academic progress, and music lessons (two instruments at the same time?). We can be tempted to follow them. While we may give lip service to discipling our children, the reality comes when we start prioritizing activities.

Children Desiring God Blog // Orienting Our Parenting PrioritiesThe apostle John expressed his heart for his spiritual children when he wrote, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 4). Here lies the crux of the matter: The first battleground of family discipleship is not my child’s heart—it is my heart. Each parent must decide whether he is more concerned that his child be accepted into Heaven, or “Harvard.” We all have “Harvards”—those worldly successes we desire for our children, but the question remains, “Which is most important to me?” Each parent must finish the sentence “I have no greater joy than…”

I would emphasize here that the challenge of priorities is often not the good versus the bad, rather, the good versus the better. Given a finite amount of time, energy, and money, what will you choose?

(copyright © 2016, page 17)

God's Word

As parents, our first priority must be our desire for our children’s spiritual development. Then we can order our time and energies accordingly. One way to do this is to establish a regular time of formal biblical instruction in the home through regular family devotions. Did you know that Children Desiring God in partnership with P&R Publishing has eight titles that are ideal for family devotions?

The Making HIM Known series was written to give parents an opportunity to present solid truth to their children, and to encourage real-life application of the truth. The books include devotions, activities, follow-up questions, and application.

 

Written by Jill Nelson

Jill Nelson

Jill Nelson is a wife, mother, grandmother, teacher and author. She has taught Sunday School for over 20 years and writes God-centered curriculum for Children Desiring God.

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