Jon and I have tried to Biblically parent our spark plugs from the day our oldest was born. We've shared the Gospel with them. We've taken them to church consistently. We've worked hard to train them diligently. We've interacted with each of them on a daily basis. And we've prayed over them.
From the above list, you might start thinking that we've gotten this Biblical parenting all figured out. That we're doing a great job with our kids. That we're super-parents in the Biblical-parenting world. But we're not - not at all.
But a few years ago, the Lord opened my eyes to the fact that I was making a HUGE Biblical parenting mistake.
I thought I had to prove to the world that Biblical parenting works. And I mistakenly believed that I had to prove it by forcing my kids to behave. All the time. In every situation. At home and outside.
Friends, this is not Biblical parenting.
Sadly, I know of several parents who are not parenting Biblically because they're either too lenient with their children or aren't investing the needed quality time in their kids. But I also have a feeling that I'm not the only parent who's gone too far in the opposite direction under the misguided notion that we somehow have to prove that God's parenting methods as taught in His Word really work.
In trying to get my spark plugs to behave all the time, my parenting was lacking grace. And in not giving grace to my little ones, I also wasn't giving them a correct view of the Gospel.
The good news of the Gospel is full of God's grace. If there were no grace, there would be no Gospel, no redemption, so salvation from sin. If the ultimate goal of Biblical parenting is to reach our children's hearts for Christ, then we must be sure we're not letting our parenting get in the way of the Gospel.
So, what do you do if you realize that you're making a parenting mistake in your attempt to train up your kids Biblically? When the Lord opened my eyes to my lack of grace, He also gave me the tools I needed to begin changing my habits (prayer, His Word, and the Holy Spirit's help). He's given you the exact same tools as well.
Two of my favorite written resources at the moment are Proverbs and Count to Nine by Ruthie Gray. They both have been helpful in my journey toward becoming a more gracious mom.
Parenting with grace doesn't mean that I give up on disciplining them when they disobey. But it does mean that I'm trying to be more understanding of things like illness and fatigue that might cause a child to act out. I'm constantly reminding myself that my kids aren't going to behave every moment of every day because we're all still batting our sin natures, myself included. And I'm working on speaking more kindly instead of being sharp-tongued. I still fail at this often, but I am improving.
Adding more grace to my parenting hasn't been all smooth sailing, but I have made strides toward parenting with grace. I'm trying to relax and enjoy my children, understanding that they're going to make mistakes as they learn and grow.
It's probably pretty natural to swing between being too lenient and being too strict with our kids. Each of us will need to keep praying about our parenting efforts, asking the Lord to guide us and correct our own mistakes on either side of that parenting pendulum.
Raising children in a Biblical manner is hard, hard work. But the end result is completely worth it - not because it guarantees saved kids, but because when we reach Heaven, the Lord will have found us faithful with the little ones He lent us during our lifetime.