Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Goals of Parenting
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Without goals, it’s only a matter of time before one wanders without a sense of direction and purpose. Without clear, decisive, straightforward goals, no ultimate mark will be hit and ultimately one will be meandering aimlessly, without direction, and at a loss as to the reason why he does what he does. We must remember our goals. And not only must we remember our goals, but we must ensure that we have the right ones. When talking to Christian parents, a common goal for the children is that they become Christians. As important at this is and as noble as this is, this is not the ultimate goal of parenting. For if conversion is the goal, and if a child does not come to Christ, then the parent has failed in parenting. And that’s not the biblical understanding of Christian living -- or parenting. In this write-up, I want to delineate a few goals of parenting and, in so doing, I also want to underscore the priority of the first item that is listed below.

The first and preeminent goal of parenting must be faithfulness. It is required of God’s stewards that one be found ‘trustworthy’ (1 Cor 4.1-2). Children of God receive a warm and glorious welcome into the kingdom when they hear: “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt 25.21, 23). God demands faithfulness of His people -- the kind of faithfulness that emulates His own faithfulness. Success, according to the Bible, is not results or numbers. Success in the Bible is gauged by faithfulness. How faithful is the parent to pray for the children? How faithful is the parent to selflessly love the children and daily point them to their eternal refuge in Christ? How faithful is the parent to get at the heart in the discipline room and during the occasions of instruction and discipleship? How faithful is the parent to lead in family worship and bring Christ and His gospel to bear in the hearts of the children? How faithful is the parent to repent of sin, ask for forgiveness, and model Christlikeness to the children? Parents must remember that the ultimate and chief goal of parenting is faithfulness. Be faithful to what God has called you to do and leave the results to God.
   
Secondly, the goal of parenting includes evangelization. Of course, every Christian parent longs for his children to come to know Christ in a saving way. Every parent longs for, prays for, and strives for this. And rightly so! But faithfulness to God does not guarantee the conversion of the child. But in being faithful to God and in being obedient to His Word, a Christian parent will evangelize the children daily. Indeed, he will utilize opportunities to formally teach about God (family worship, devotions, etc.) and informally teach about God (on a road trip, a funeral, watching a sunset, seeing an amazing creature, etc.). Parents must relentlessly, patiently, prayerfully, tenderly, and urgently evangelize the children by pointing out their sinful hearts, the character of God, the penalty for sin, the punishment of hell, the love and life of Christ, the substitution that procured salvation, the need for repentance and faith, and the hope of eternal life for all who believe. Parents must lovingly invite the children to come to this God in Christ and to love Him, serve Him, obey Him, and trust in Him!

Third, parenting must have the goal of preparation. This includes preparation for judgment day. There is a day soon coming when everyone will stand before Jesus Christ, the Judge of heaven and earth. And our job as parents is to prepare, by God’s enabling grace and power, our children to stand before the Almighty and just judgment of God! Furthermore, we want to devote ourselves to prepare them for life.  We want them to know what integrity is and what it looks like. We want them to be hard workers. We must teach and instruct them to be busy, workers with their hands, devoted to God, truthful in all things, and living with an eye toward eternity. Additionally, we parent to teach our children to prepare for marriage. We parent our boys to be men who lead, who are humble servants, selfless in their daily sacrifice, and genuinely loving as Christ loves. We teach our girls to be gentle, helpers, submissive, and to joyfully embrace the calling to follow and complete a man that God may bring into their lives. Finally, we want to  prepare our children for when they themselves are parents. But ultimately, of course, our primary focus is on their preparation to meet God -- which most certainly will come.

Next, the goals of parenting must entail a multi-generational influence. We don’t parent only for now. We parent for the future. We must remember the long-term perspective of parenting. Let’s not have a narrow, myopic focus of parenting but remember that our children will one day be parents and they will be parenting their children, and then their children will have children that they will parent, and so forth. We must remember that we want to teach the generations to come -- yes, even the generations yet to be born -- to trust in the Lord and place their hope in God (see Psalm 78:1-8).

Finally, the goal of parenting includes demonstration. That refers to the demonstration of the gospel visibly and relationally. The way that God as Father treats us as His children has a very direct correlation to how we as parents must treat our children. And in so far as we faithfully understand how God treats us, we want to faithfully emulate His conduct with our children so as to rightly show selfless love and humble sacrifice in the gospel. How do we demonstrate God’s selfless, sacrificial, humble love toward our children when they sin?  How do we lavish forgiveness upon them that emulates God’s enormous forgiveness of us?  How do we communicate clearly, often, tenderly, and with comforting promises like God does to us in the pages of Scripture? How do we unilaterally initiate occasions to love our children even when they do not love in return?  This is how God has loved us in Christ? Let us seek to remember the ultimate goal of being faithful to God and to His Word as we strive, working by His power, to follow Him, obey His Word, and see God’s Spirit regenerate our children by His sovereign grace.

More can be found at Pastor Geoff's site here.

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