I distinctly remember bringing home our first child from the hospital. We put her in the car seat, drove her home, and took her inside our small house. Then a terrifying thought came across my mind, “what do I do now?” I understood how she ate and how to change her, but how do I raise and parent this child?
This month I am recommending the book The Disciple Making Parent as a valuable resource for parents. If you do not have children or your children are already grown, then this book might not be as valuable to you as it might be to others. It would be great to read though to be able to disciple all the young parents we have in our church. If you are a parent of children, especially young children, you need to get this book and read it carefully.
Let me just say, I do believe the Bible is sufficient for all instruction about parenting. The Bible doesn’t get enough credit for all the passages that deal with parenting. Some examples are: Ephesians 6; Colossians 3, Deuteronomy 6, and of course the entire book of Proverbs. But it is helpful to have theologians unpack those verses for us into helpful books that explain to us how to apply them. The Disciple Making Parent is one of those helpful books.
I love the continued emphasis on the parents in this book. It makes sense because it is our responsibility to raise our children. It is not up to the daycare or any other teachers to teach our children right/wrong. They will teach the ABC’s and 123’s, but it is the parent’s job to instill truth and values to our children. Every chapter is directed to ‘You’ the parent. We are not let off the hook and the seriousness of our calling is evident throughout the pages.
When it comes to raising children, Christian parents can make 1 of 2 errors. Error #1 would be to assume their children are believers just because the parents are. Nowhere does the Bible say salvation comes because of one’s lineage. It is up to each individual to place his/her own faith in Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior. We cannot assume our 5 year old is regenerated, redeemed, and saved because he/she goes to church with us. That little life must be shepherded with the gospel and the facts of the gospel must be clearly and consistently taught in the home. 3 chapters in the book are devoted to evangelizing your children. Yes, we must evangelize our children with the same perspective as we would evangelize a stranger on the street.
The second error Christian parents make is to think that outward rules and restrictions can change the child’s heart. We try to ‘Christianize’ our children. I cringe when I hear someone say, “I’m raising my kids Christian.” What does that mean? Are we putting in place rules and restrictions that we think will save them? I make them go to church, I make them say they believe in God, and I make them own a Bible, does that make them Christian? If I make them do a whole bunch of ‘Christian’ things will that will define their spiritual state? The danger with that approach is that we end up raising good little Pharisees. They are required to do the ‘god stuff’ but the heart is never changed. They end up being like the older brother in the story of the Prodigal Son, bitter and resentful to the Father that they have served for so long and gotten nothing like the younger son (Luke 15:25-32). Instead, parenting and discipline always must address the heart. Asking ‘why’ questions are always deeper than ‘what’ questions because they reveal what is going on in the heart. The Disciple Making Parent has 4 chapters that help address the heart of our children.
On top of that, there are other helpful chapters on how to do family devotions, how to help your children enjoy life but not love the world, how to help our children seek God-honoring friendships, and how to teach your children to pray. I have around 20 books about parenting on my shelf but this resource is one at the top of the list. To further assist parents let me recommend some others as well:
Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp (One of the best books on parenting ever)
Give them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick & Jessica Thompson (A mother’s perspective
about teaching our children what grace is like)
What the Bible says about Parenting by John MacArthur (explanations about the various
verses on raising children)
Parents, the task is hard, but the Bible is sufficient, and there are resources out there that can greatly assist us in our task at being faithful in parenting. I encourage you to get them, read them, and learn from them.
-Pastor Mark Scialabba