Parenting With Grace
This month we look at the most important component of parenting - the thing that is foundational to the rest of the task before us. The element of grace. If you have been in the church long, you have heard about this strange word “grace”. A simple definition of grace is undeserved favor from God. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, then you likely have an understanding of grace as something God did for you in the past through Jesus on the cross. And something God will do for you in the future when you receive eternal life. Unfortunately, Christians often miss the present reality of grace - God is showing us abundant undeserved favor in our lives today.
In the midst of the stresses of parenting, you may doubt this statement. Paul Tripp discusses this reality. He reminds us that God has always chosen to use people who are inadequate for the job. So, if you are feeling inadequate as a parent, it’s because you are! Praise God! We can all go home. While feeling inadequate doesn’t seem like favor from God, it is a blessing to be used by God for something beyond our ability because it drives us to God’s grace and brings glory to God when he works through us, in spite of us.
This inadequacy calls us to a radical dependence on God. To daily remind ourselves that we need his grace. Even though we may initially scoff at the idea of dependence and equate it with weakness, we all accept dependence as a strength in a very popular context… sports. I love March Madness Basketball. It is the greatest sporting event of the year. What often separates a good team from a great team is not the ability of the players. All the players at that level are able. Instead, it is the team’s ability to be dependent upon one another. To work as a single unit, trusting that your teammate will be there to back you up. Basketball does not work without dependence. Good parenting does not work without dependence.
The quicker we accept our inadequacy and failure in parenting, the better. Tripp shares the humbling conclusion God brought him to early on in his parenting days; “I am more like my children than unlike them — and so are you.” His point is that the same struggles our children face - greed, selfishness, anger, subtle idolatries, etc. - are all things that plague us as adults. The power of this truth changes all of our interactions with our children. If we see ourselves as in need of God’s grace, just like our children, then God will be growing in us a tenderness, patience, and gentleness towards our children who equally need God’s grace. Most importantly, humble, confessing, and God-dependent parents will raise humble, confessing, and God-dependent children.
God will give you what you need to complete the task of stewarding and parenting the children God gave you. You are not alone in your parenting and your inadequacy is an opportunity for God’s great power. I want to leave with you a lengthy quote from Tripp for you to remember tomorrow morning:
This means that God is with you in the morning when you dread getting out of bed and facing another hard parenting day. He is with you when you have to break up the seventeenth squabble of the morning. He is with you when you have an opening for a very important talk. He is with you when your children are in your face and disrespectful. He is with you when you fall into bed with a combination of exhaustion and regret. He gifts you with his presence. He really does live inside you. You really aren’t left to yourself. And he will not turn his back on you until what he has called you to do as a parent is complete
(Based on "Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles" by Paul David Tripp)