What, exactly, is true Biblical parenting?
Even though I grew up in church, grew up reading God's Word, and grew up in a Christian home, I still had to ask myself what Biblical parenting really was. So if you aren't quite sure of the answer, either, you're in good company.
I used to think that good parenting would simply result in good children. I thought that if I were diligent to punish bad behavior and reward good actions, I would be following Biblical parenting guidelines and all would be well. But I was wrong on many levels.
Biblical parenting, just like the Christian faith, is not nearly as focused on outward behavior as it is the inner attitude of the heart.
Amazingly enough, the Scripture passage that I now lean on to guide my parenting mindset has little to do with parenting directly.
"He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" - Micah 6:8
This verse gives me what I refer to as the four pillars of true Biblical parenting:
- Obedience (the Lord requires it of parents)
We need each part of this verse to balance out everything else. If we were to leave out even one part, we wouldn't be parenting our children in a God-honoring manner. If we were to avoid the commandment all together, we would be in sin. If we were to skip justice, sin would have free reign in our children. Were we to be unmerciful, we would exasperate our children (see Ephesians 6:4). If we didn't walk in humility and dependence on God for wisdom, we would believe that we were capable of saving our children, something that only Christ's work on the cross could do (John 14:6).
My mistake was in assuming that controlling my spark plugs' outward actions would govern their inward faith. But the Bible clearly states that salvation rests solely with the Lord; it is not something that I could give my kids no matter how diligent I am to correct and encourage. I had failed to hunger after justice; failed to desire mercy; and failed to be humble. I was a Biblical parenting disaster waiting to happen!
Slowly, the Lord has opened my eyes to what true Biblical parenting is. Yes, it does require correcting and rewarding outward actions, but it's ultimate goal is to reach our children's hearts for Christ. That is the most crucial component to true Biblical parenting: sharing the Gospel with our unsaved little sinners. If our parenting method has any other goal than teaching our kids about Christ's death and resurrection and their need for a Savior, we have missed the point completely.
Let's aim this week to obey God's commandment to parent Biblically: to seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our Creator.
Your turn: Do you have a Biblical understanding of what Godly parenting is? Do you struggle with any of the pillars of true Biblical parenting: obedience, justice, mercy, or humility? If so, know that I'm right there with you.