Friday, October 21, 2011

Gospel-Centered Parenting

I am a big fan of Tim Chester. I love how he takes God’s word and brings it to bear in our every day life. I just sat through a workshop with Tim on parenting and having a gospel centered family and it was pure gold, worth the full price of the conference....and we're only 3 hours in.  :)  

Tim spoke of the purpose of parenting. I loved Tim’s definition of “gospel centered parenting”:

“Gospel centered parenting is missional parenting as we use our parenting and family to display the gospel story.”

This is a great picture of the purpose to our parenting. Our family is a stage in which we can re-enact the gospel story over and over for our children, our neighborhoods, our friends, and our extended family.

Something else I resonated with was Tim talking about the danger of taking parenting “techniques” that may or may not have worked for various parents and making them THE way to parent or raise your children.

He said, “parenting is an inexact science…in the rough and tumble of daily life it is tough."

In parenting methods and parenting books we are often given the impression that there IS an exact science to parenting. If you do A and B then you will get C as a result. Not only is this a pretty arrogant way to approach parenting, it is an unbiblical way. WE cannot produce godly children. WE did not write the plan for their life before the foundations of the earth were lain. But we CAN be faithful to God’s call to live out and speak the gospel of Jesus to our children all day, every day. Tim proposed that we align ourselves with the gospel and become gospel-centered parents. We want to share the gospel with our children over and over. To know how to do this, we need to have good parenting principals and then create methods for our own family out of an understanding of those principals (but not make those methods gospel truth for every family).

So what are some of the principals?

Here is the picture Tim has given us for being gospel centered in our parenting...these are highlights from his talk and I think vital to raising our children in the love and instruction of the Lord:

  1. The Main Goal is to model loving authority  
    • The aim of teaching our children that it is good to submit to us is that it is good, ultimately, to submit to God’s loving authority.
    • We should parent our children in a way that models the good and loving authority of God in our life.
    • The family unit is the place where a child learns that they do not live for themselves, but for others
    • Selfish-parental rule fails in gospel centered parenting. Parent rule is to reflect God’s rule, which is not tyrannical, but loving and gracious. A parent centered family means everything revolves around the parents rule, desires, and wishes.
    • At the same time, children ruling the family also fails in gospel centered parenting. In letting our children rule and run our home, they do not learn that it is good to live under God’s rule

  1. The Main hope is that your child will know and serve God
    • We SAY that this is the most important thing to us, but do our daily or weekly lives reflect that reality
    • What matters most to us is what ends up mattering to our children
    • Is our hope for our children to see them grow up to be wealthy, well educated adults? Or is your hope to see them making choices and sacrifices to serve Christ. What do you want for your children?
    • If you want your children to serve Christ in a radically, whole-hearted way, then model that in your everyday life. Expose them to costly ministry. Nothing, even good things, can be more important in our family then knowing and loving God or they become our idols.
    • Call your children to treasure Christ in such a way that they are willing to sell and leave everything to gain and know Christ

  1. The main focus is your child’s heart.
    • What is the reason why your child misbehaves? Behavior comes from the heart. True, food additives, ADD, etc can amplify these behaviors, but the cause is always the heart.
    • What this means is that the GOAL is to change hearts not behavior. It is EASY to change behavior through all sorts of discipline techniques (good and bad), but what needs to happen is to change the heart.
    • If your ways are to teach your children the ways of the Lord, then your discipline will be calm, clear, consistent, and concentrated on the motivation of their hearts.
    • The GOAL is not control (that may be your agenda, but not God’s agenda), the GOAL is heart change.

  1. The main battleground is your heart.
    • “What makes the difference between good parenting and bad parenting is what is going on in my heart” –Tim Chester
    • Often, what skews our own discipline of our children is the idolatrous desires of our own heart. We want something specific and when we don’t get it (Jams 4:1), we fight.
    • We need to be aware of our weaknesses and our sinful desires so that we can repent of our sin. When you notice yourself frustrated or angry, step back and ask yourself about what desires are driving you to feel frustrated and angry
    • Involve your community and share life with a part of your Christian community so that they can see and point out what seems to be going on in your heart.

  1. The main theme is grace.
    • Children are natural-born legalists, we have to teach them grace.
    • Children are LITERALLY a grace, a gift from the Lord
    • Good is great, therefore we do not have to be in control. God is glorious, so we do not have to fear others. God is good, so we don’t have to look elsewhere for satisfaction. God is gracious, so we don’t have to prove ourselves.
    • We need to teach our children those above truths. Think about what it would look like in your life and in your children’s life if each of those truths are not believed by you and/or your children
    • "That is why grace is so important. If you don’t get grace then parenting will crush you, because you will fail, but there is grace…both for you and your child"
      ( On a side note, I've heard similar thoughts from Elyse Fitzpatrick and she talks a lot about gospel-centered parenting. I have not read her book, "Give Them Grace" but I am looking forward to doing so and writing a book review soon.)


      1. this is what he talked about at the intensive, but with a parenting twist. so good!

      2. thank you for sharing this so those of us not there live can share in the wealth of wisdom that is there :)
        give my friend Donna a hug for me!