By Patrick Showers, Associate Elementary Pastor
Woodland Hills Church
Now that I’ve been a parent for over 11 years, I’m confident I don’t know that much about parenting. Ironically, before my first child was born, I thought I would be a much better parent than my own parents. But looking back on the years now, I can see the reality is I am an imperfect parent but with good intentions. My good intentions have turned into mistakes not because I was wrong about them but because I misapplied them.
This realization was very discouraging. Here I was, a children’s pastor with a desire for kids to grow in their faith, yet I was without any clear idea how to develop it in my own home. Our kids had little experience with adults worshipping outside their leaders in Heroes Gate. Added to that were the constant battles in which our children pointed out each other’s faults without taking into account their own. We became referees to petty arguments centering on who did or didn’t do something, making our home a culture of Me rather than Us.
Through it all, I realized I couldn’t parent each child the same. Each child has his or her own unique personality and experience which means consequences that worked for one child had little to no effect on another. However, the kids expected everything to be equal without any understanding that equal is not always just or fair.
My wife and I knew we needed a resolution around parenting, so we spent time in prayer and asked friends what they did as parents. One thing became clear: We weren’t bad parents. We were parents without a vision. What we needed was a picture of our kids as adults. So we began to ask ourselves and God the following questions:
• What do we want our child’s character to be like as an adult?
• What do we hope our child’s faith will be like as an adult?
• What does God want for our children as adults?
As we pondered these questions, a picture for each child’s future began to materialize. God revealed many things about our kids and ourselves and made it clear we needed to give over to Him any expectations regarding our children’s careers and living near home. We chose to entrust our kids to God, having confidence that He loves them far more than we ever could. This was probably the toughest part of the process, yet our children’s futures were tied to our willingness to trust God fully.
God continues to challenge my wife and me to not only grow our own faith but to include our children in the process. We’ve opened up our hearts to our kids and invited them to pray with us, to worship together as a family, and to open the Bible together when dealing with issues, behaviors, or character problems. We continue to pray for God to reveal what is needed for each child.
Our kids have grown in their faith, yet they are still kids. They are still developing and far from perfect, and so are we. But through it all, our family has grown more intimate and connected. I’d love to tell you we are intentional all the time, but life catches up with us, and we have to reset our intentional mode more often than not. Thankfully, God is able to help us do that through His Holy Spirit.
When we turned to God and entrusted our kids to Him, He gave us a vision which continues to steer our decisions and gives us direction. This doesn’t guarantee a child will turn out perfect, but helps us to ensure that our children experience love as we model authentic faith through the ups and downs. Trusting children to God equips us to love them regardless of the choices they make through God’s endless supply of self-sacrificial agape-love.