Now more than ever, it’s tough being a parent in such a negative world. Our kids today are living in a world that is uncertain, fearful, and violent. And the stakes have never been higher. One small slip-up and a young person can find his or her life permanently altered. One wrong decision and a few years later they can end up HIV positive or caught up in a destructive cycle of drugs and alcohol.
As parents, many of us may wonder: How do we navigate our children through the landmines of change, information overload, moral relativism, peer-pressure, drugs and alcohol, and sexual immorality, etc.? Is it even possible for our kids to grow up through all this mess and still be godly?
What I want to tell you is, yes! God has a plan and has hope. Through His word, empowered by the Holy Spirit, ordinary parents like you and me can break through the culture. We can be positive parents in such a negative world…and here’s how.
First, positive parenting begins with positive, clear-cut objectives.
To be positive parents, we need to know our goal. For a lot of us, our primary goal is to keep our kids safe and out of trouble. So a lot of us live out of fear. We don’t trust our kids or tell them we believe in them. Instead, we spend our time worrying and being afraid of all of the things that might go wrong.
By contrast, our culture tells us that the real goal of parenting is for our kids to be happy in every way. But that’s a dead end street. If your focus is to make them happy, it will not be long-term.
But do you know what God’s goal is for our kids? They are to be holy – to be conformed to His image. Romans 8:29 says: “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”
We are to raise our children with Christian teaching and Christian discipline. Ephesians 6:4 instructs parents: “Do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
Therefore, our primary goal as parents isn’t that our kids never get in trouble or are always happy, but it is to know God and then be like Him. We are to help our kids know Jesus so that they want to become like Him — holy and pure. And if they are becoming more like Him, then they will have genuine joy instead of fleeting happiness.
Second, positive parenting demands we practice what we preach.
The Apostle Paul, speaking as a “spiritual parent” to the Corinthians that he led to Christ, says in 1 Corinthians 4:14-16, “ I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children. Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me.”
As parents, here’s what each of us need to tell our kids: “Imitate me! Live a holy life the way I am doing this.” This is the principle of modeling. As parents, we cannot impart what we do not possess. The best thing we can give our kids is who we are. Our kids will do what we do, not what we say.
Now, does this mean we have to be perfect? No. We will make mistakes, and that’s OK! It’s not about being perfect parents — it’s about being real and authentic. It’s about them seeing us grow and dealing with our stuff. We must be what we want them to become.
Is there an area of your life that you don’t want reproduced in your child? Ask God to help you in this area. He wants to help you become who you long to become, not only for His glory, but also for the benefit of your children.
This week, we’re starting the series, Effective Parenting in a Defective World. In it, we will learn principles for successful parenting as revealed through God’s Word, including practical lessons about discipline as well as how to teach and nurture your children. It’s my hope that during this series, we’ll remember that God is big enough to make us effective parents no matter what the circumstances.
Keep Pressin’ Ahead,
Chip Ingram, Teaching Pastor
Living on the Edge
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip