Many days I feel completely inadequate and unprepared as a parent. Maybe that is just the nature of things, the circle of life. Maybe you really don’t figure things out until all your kids are out of the house and on their own.
I realize that I will have no control over what my children’s perspective will be in regards to how well I parented them or did not. And although I don’t have control over the future, I do have control over one thing – what I will do today. Yesterday’s mistakes and short comings are gone and tomorrow is never, ever promised to a parent. What I do have is this day and this day only. Even more, all I have is this moment to be a great parent… a spiritual parent. I have this moment and day to lead my kids spiritually and to love them sacrificially. I heard a wise man say recently that, “parenting is a temporary job, if done well” – so we need to make the most of it.
Spiritual Parenting Thoughts
As a pastor, I have the opportunity to lead and facilitate a class at our church (Northwest Church) called Spiritual Parenting (a dvd based curriculum by Michelle Anthony). I was reading and preparing for a session when God brought to my mind a familiar passage from the Bible in the book of James.
13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. James 4:13-17
All we need to do is replace the word, “anyone” with the word, “parent” in verse 17 and you will quickly feel the weight of what I felt. It was exactly what I needed to hear. I had never applied this text to the environment of parenting, but as I did I was very quickly confronted with my lack of perspective and appreciation for the sacred moment of the day at hand and the idea that the good left undone today, for my kids, is in fact sin (missing the mark). Here are 5 principles that that I gleaned on the perspective of spiritual parenting from this passage.
5 Spiritual Parenting Principles to Help You Not Put Off Today
Principle #1: Spiritual Parents accept the reality that they are not promised tomorrow (v13). So much of parenting is with the future in mind. If I can just teach them the “right things” they will turn out right and always make great decisions. The reality is there are many parents who did a terrible job of teaching and modeling for their kids and they turned out great and others who did all the right things and their kids turned out to be politicians (just kidding… kind of). Whatever the future may hold, the idea is to make the best use of TODAY and not worry about tomorrow until it’s tomorrow.
Principle #2: Spiritual Parents have an understanding of the temporary (v14). Another way of understanding that things are temporary is to think in terms of seasons. Seasons by definition are for only a specific period of time – they don’t last forever. Can you imagine how depressing it would be if winter lasted all year long? Or even worse, summer for us that live in Fresno Ca.? Likewise, our children have seasons that do not last forever. Babies turn into toddlers, who turn into school aged kids and on and on until they become adults. All of this happens so fast. The key is to not miss the joy and wonder of the season our kids are in right now. So make memories… take pictures and write as much down as possible. As James puts it, “Your life is a mist” – enjoy the mist instead of complaining about it.
Principle #3: Spiritual Parents are submitted to the will of God (v15). “If the Lord, we will live and do this or that.” As a parent I can get so caught up in the “this or that.” I want “this” and I have to have “that” – and yet very little time goes into prayer and trusting that God has a plan and it’s most likely a lot better then mine for my kids. Parents today face an enormous amount of self inflicted pressure to “keep up” and compete with the culture around them. It’s great to plan but for a spiritual parent, those plans are held very loosely and with a lot of faith.
Principle #4: Spiritual Parents are humble and not prideful (v16). Humility in parenting is so important, especially spiritual parenting. “You boast in your arrogant schemes,” can be connected to our perspective that we as parents are always right and know what’s best. Many times I have been corrected by one of my kids who reminds me of what I have taught them. In humility I have to receive truth even when the source is someone under my care and leadership. To think that I have all of the answers is prideful at best and at it’s worse spiritually abusive. I have to also be willing to ask for and accept help. Too often parents become overwhelmed thinking they need to meet all of their kids needs and have all of the answers. Look outside of yourself for the help you need – maybe even listen to your kids and ask them, “How can I be a better parent?”
Principle #5: Spiritual Parents prioritize the good of this day over the potential of tomorrow (v17). Sure there are many great things to plan in this life. However, if I spend too much time in the future (or the past) I will miss out on the moment of today that God has given me to be a father, husband, pastor or leader. Tomorrow has great potential, but it is still tomorrow which is always an unknown. We must prioritize today in such a way that we are present enough today and trust enough that God will handle our tomorrow. The gift of this day is always of more value then the unknown of tomorrow. Warning… if you know the good you ought to do today and don’t do it, it will be sin for you.
My hope is that all of us parents, and those not yet parents, would feel encouraged to not miss this day. As Michelle Anthony puts it, “Spiritual Parenting is not perfect parenting.” When I let go of trying to do it perfectly I can more freely focus on the opportunity I have to love and lead today. So today take a moment to think and make a decision to do one act of love or service with your kid(s) today – not leaving it for tomorrow.
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