Sometimes when I read or hear about all the fun activities other parents do with their kids, I can begin to compare it to my own daily parenting challenges and begin to question my priorities. My initial thought is, maybe I need to "just lighten up" and have more fun times. I can look at our high expectations and standards and think, "Is it too much? Am I setting the bar too high?" Should I relax and just "enjoy life with my children"? Is it necessary to be so serious all of the time?
Many so called experts tell us, "Just let your kids find their own way. Give them freedom to make their own choices and express who they are". Some say "all you need is love. If you really love your children then they will feel that love and will want to be obedient and rules won't be necessary." If I listened to modern advice, then I would "just lighten up". Fun would be our number one priority as a family. At the end of the day, we would feel accomplished if we had some kind of fun together. Our summers would be successes bcause we spent all ours days at amusement parks, the movies or the pool. None of those things are wrong but as a Christian parent, God has called me to much higher goals than blowing the top off of the family fun meter.
God has given my husband and I the responsibility to raise up 4 children "in the strength and admonition of the Lord". We are to teach our children how to be godly men and women who are completely sold out for Him and His kingdom. And that teaching begins at a very young age by how we choose to prioritize God in our own lives. If I put all of the "fun" things of the world before God, then I will model for my children that a successful life is all about the fun. If church is not a priority and can be continuously skipped for sporting events, parties or some other activity, then I'm teaching my children that those things are more important than God. They will choose to seek God only if they have time or need him in a crisis.
I don't want God to be like a relative that they visit twice a year for special occasions. I want them to crave time with God so much that weekly church attendance just isn't enough. I want their one desire in this life to be to please God in ALL things. I want their souls to feed on God's Word daily and when they miss a day, I want their spirit to ache for time alone with God. Therefore, I must teach them to deny their fleshly desires and pursuit of pleasure in this life. I have to be vigilant in this training because dying to self is a daily battle.
As a parent, I am at war with Satan over the heart and soul of my children. His desire is to devour my children and keep them away from knowing God. And when they come to Christ, he doesn't just give up and leave them alone. He then does everything in His power to make them ineffective as witnesses for Christ. Satan's attacks are fierce and relentless. Therefore, I must be fierce and relentless in the spiritual training of my children. Parents we must wake up and realize the seriousness of our roles in training the next generation of spiritual leaders.
Satan is ruthless and he is after our children. He is succeeding at convincing an entire generation of parents that to be a good parent, you have to be a fun parent. You have to make sure your kids are happy kids. If that was the measure of success, then my husband and I would fail miserably. We would fail because we don't make "fun times" our priority. We do have fun together as a family, but we are not the entertainment directors for our children. We get in the trenches daily and battle the disobedience, the apathy, the attitudes, the irresponsibility, the selfishness, the disrespect and the self-centeredness. We fight for purity, godliness, selflessness, self-control, and complete surrender to Christ. It is exhausting, emotionally, physically & spiritually exhausting.
Some days I wonder if it's worth it. Some days I want to throw out all the standards, expectations and boundaries and just relax. But then I am reminded of what happens when as parents we just relax...."And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel." (Judges 2:10) "A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls." (Prov. 25:28) If I choose fun over discipline now then I am not only failing in my job as a parent, I am setting my children up for failure later. If I don't teach my children the importance of putting God first in everything that we do, then they will become part of a generation who has no desire to seek after God. Proverbs 19:18 says "Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death."
When we choose to make life a big party for our children and avoid the difficult times of discipline and training then we don't love our children the way God has called us to love them. "For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it". (Hebrews 12:11) "My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights." (Proverbs 3:11-12)
I take my job as a parent very seriously. God has entrusted me and my husband with the massive responsiblity to teach our children everything that we can about who He is and what it means to be a true follower of Christ. We don't have the luxury of being passive in this task. We must be strategic and purposeful in our training and discipline. We must set high standards because that's how God has called us to live. Galatians 5:16 calls us to " walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh". In Romans 12:1-2, Paul calls us to be set apart from the world. "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."
My desire for my children is for them to become God-focused adults. To be willing to joyfully serve God wherever he calls them. How can that happen if they spend the first 18 years of their lives focused on themselves and what makes them happy? The focus needs to be on doing those things that make us Christ-like. "So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart." (2 Timothy 2:22) "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any
excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." (Phil. 4:8-9)
On those days when I just want to give up and take the easy way out, I will seek God and His strength even more. During those times of weakness when I envy another family's entertainment spending, I will remember the joy & excitement that my children had serving in Oneida, Nicaragua & Haiti. When I allow the lies of culture to tell me that my children need the newest and latest stuff to be successful, I will remind myself that the only thing my children need to be successful is a heart that is totally surrendered to Christ.
I am a Christian, a wife, a mom, a VBS crafter, a coupon clipper, a thrift store shopper, a football fan, a cook, a student of the Bible and an avid reader.