Recently a parent of several young children bemoaned the fact that they had no “manual” for parenting that comes with each baby. My guess is that each of us has had that thought somewhere along the way as we constantly were faced with rather difficult phases of our children’s growth. But what would such a manual be like? First it would be gargantuan in size because there would be so many categories and phases. The index would have to be massive to include situations that would come up in 18 years of one child’s life – not to mention 2 or more in the same household! Then there’s the male/female differences that need to be taken into consideration for both parents and children. I suspect all the categories of personality would need to be there to explain certain behaviors as well as choices for discipline. There’s the factor of birth order to consider for both the parents and the children and there would have to be an extensive explanation of the role that culture plays in the parenting model. No wonder there is no manual for parenting! HOWEVER, God has not left us to our own pot-luck attempts for the well-being of the children He gives us. They are much too precious to Him for that.
If we owned a set of Complete Parenting Manuals, our children’s well-being would be dependent upon, and judged by our ability to follow the manual. Perhaps therein lies the reason it does not exist. God offers something more valuable and eternal. In fact, it is so eternal that it is mentioned by Jesus as well as every major New Testament writer. His parenting plan is that He places precious children under the tutelage of adults who are constantly admonished to mature in their faith. Then He simply says, “train them up in the Lord.” Enough said. When we, the adults, seriously pursue spiritual growth, then we will parent our children the way they should go because Jesus is Lord. That is God’s “how-to” of parenting.
“Dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God” (2 Cor.7:1).
I believe this is a powerful verse for parenting. Think about it. When parents are living holy lives that remove all physical and spiritual contaminates because they are in awe of God – parenting will be an extension of that holiness. The attention of the parents is first and foremost in purifying themselves. Awe or reverence for God is the atmosphere of the home. It is the air they breathe, the words they speak and the outcome of their hearts. The other side of this coin is when parents focus so much on “purifying” their children that they neglect their own contaminants. We all know that lessons are taught more in who we are than who we say we are.
It is a new year and that provides an occasion to consider our lives for 2019. What are some ways you and I can perfect holiness out of reverence for God? Are there contaminations in our bodies or spirits we can clean up? May we pray for each other so that our children and grandchildren can follow our example and it lead them to God.