LifeWay Research just released a survey. Twelve hundred adults with children under the age of eighteen were asked about the role faith played in their parenting. Twenty-five percent said the most common definition of successful parenting included children with good moral values. Twenty-five percent described success as their children being happy adults. Twenty-two percent said they would be successful parents if their kids found success in life. Only around 14 percent of parents equaled success with their children having a faith relationship with God. What was even more disturbing is that 29 percent of those polled who claimed to be Christians said faith was not among the most important influences on their parenting.
We are a consumer, entertainment society that has lost its way. Many parents, even most Christians, think that if their children don't get involved with drugs, have a good career, are able to take their family on vacations, etc., that this constitutes the good life and they can rest easy knowing that their parenting job was a success. Even though those things are not bad, that is not how God defines successful parenting. There can be no true successful parenting without it being done through a complete faith and trust in Christ and with the Bible as the ultimate authority on parenting practices. It is not enough to take our children to church and leave faith teaching to the pastor, the Sunday school teacher, and the youth minister. God holds us as parents accountable for teaching our children about Him.
Deuteronomy 6: 4 -9 says, "Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."
It has to be a living, breathing faith. One that touches every aspect of our lives. It is not enough just to pray before every meal. Devotion to Christ should exude from us and when that happens we will be teaching and talking of Him all throughout our day. That is the kind of devotion and parenting that Christ expects.
We may raise children with good morals, at least by society's standards. But morals are not neutral and unless they are based on a faith in Christ and a Biblical foundation, those "good morals" may not be enough to withstand many of the blights they will face. How will they overcome the desire to get out of a marriage that may be uncomfortable at times? How will they stand up to moral ills without a strong faith? How will they be salt and light with just "good moral values?" It is easy for a morally good person to make the wrong decisions based on his/her need for comfort and happiness. It is quite another thing for a person to choose holiness before God regardless of what that decision may mean for them personally.
Christ never called us to raise good, moral, happy children. He has called us to raise a generation of warriors for Him. He has called us to raise godly, holy and joyfully content children. Joy in Christ does not always mean happiness by the world's standards. I do believe however, that the truest happiness will only come from a life committed to Christ. I am not advocating making our children's lives one of drudgery. We love to laugh and play with our children as much as others. But, we are also learning to train them in righteousness...and that is quite a responsibility...and one that we have too often failed at ourselves.
I do not write this as a woman who has all the answers. But, I serve a God that does. I am very much in the learning process with this thing called parenting myself. I fail and get back up, ask God to forgive and seek once again to be the kind of parent He has called me to be. Let us covenant together to raise a godly generation that will stand true to the teachings of Christ. Matthew 6: 33 says, "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things (career, joy, provisions) will be added unto you." How will you define successful parenting with your children? For me, I will consider my job successful if I have five children who love the Lord with all their hearts and stand strong regardless of the temptations surrounding them. I want my children to stand before the Lord and hear "Well done thou good and faithful servant." And if they do that, it matters not what profession they choose, how much money they have, whether they travelled the world, how much money they have at retirement, how big their house is...and the list goes on. When we all give an account before our Maker what will be most important? Will it be the material things we have gained, or will it be what we did to minister to His children? After all, they really are His. He has only loaned them to us for a short time. May God bless you as you continue to fight the good fight!