There is only one perfect parent – God, and the rest of us have an awful lot to learn, don’t we? Parenting often can be so humbling; its tests our communication skills, our heart, our wisdom, our energy, our ability to live without sleep and our patience! Yet few blessings can compare to the tremendous joys given by God to godly parents. We can literally say, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 4). For those who are parents, we must give greater thought and prayer to what God-centered parenting really is.
It is not enough merely to give place to God-centered parenting. We think about it some and talk about it occasionally, but we do not think, breathe and perpetually focus on it and its practice within our families. Nor is it enough for parents to give priority to God-centered parenting. You see, parents may faithfully attend the services of a congregation and regularly expose their children to God, His word and His people. The kids may do Bible Bowl, Christian camp and various youth events. God is a priority in their lives. He is definitely on the “Top 10 List.” We might refer to this as the “parenting style” of the Rich Young Ruler (cf. Matthew 19:16-22). These can be very good things and may be done “from one’s youth” up, yet something can still be “lacking.”
God-centered parenting means that God is preeminent. There is no question that God is above and before all. He’s not somewhere on the “Top 10 List.” Everything on the list revolves around Him and our relationship to Him! (Cf. Matthew 22:36-40; 6:33). Our great desire to love, hear, teach, obey and to remember Him in everything we do comes out as we parent (cf. Deuteronomy 6:4-15). Here are four important characteristics of God-centered parenting.
- Never lose sight that children are both a gift from God (Psalm 127:3-5) and a sacred trust placed in our care (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:1). They have been committed to us for a while so they can be God’s forever! God-centered parents are all about helping children come to know and love the Lord so as to be with Him forever in glory.
- God-centered parents constantly ask, “How does God want me to parent this child?” “What would You have me to do, Lord?” is another way of expressing this thought. This approach does 2 things: it recognizes our desperate need as parents for God and His strength; and, it recognizes something of the unique nature of each child (cf. Proverbs 22:6).
- From a very early point in their life, make it easy for your children to talk to you. Admittedly, there will be times when you will think you are getting too much of a good thing! Children were born wanting to communicate. They may cry, scream, stomp, pout, bargain, use drama, give the “silent treatment,” and so forth all because they lack the skills to communicate well (interestingly, these traits tend to go far beyond childhood!). One wonders how many parents have asked over the years, “Why didn’t you come to me so we could talk about it?” God-centered parenting means we seek to be available for our kids and that we long to truly hear and to understand them. Aren’t you glad that we have a God who does this for His children? (Hebrews 4:16; 1 John 5:14).
- God-centered parents affirm and bless their children constantly. Affirmation has to do with saying things that are true to our kids which express our encouragement and devotion. Blessing our kids has to do with speaking well of them and generously and graciously treating them because we treasure them. They matter to us! Affirmation and blessing are NOT spoiling! After all, God constantly practices these things with His children. Do we find ourselves constantly criticizing and belittling our children? We must speak and act in ways that reflect we believe in them and see their preciousness (cf. Ephesians 4:29; Psalm 19:14).
As humans, we will never be perfect parents. Parenting is too tough and too challenging for any mere mortal to make such an outrageous claim. However, we can be faithful to God in parenting our kids. We can seek to be God-centered in our own lives and in our parenting. And lives will be blessed. Most important, the Father will be honored and praised by our efforts.