You know those verses that tell us children are a delight and a gift from God? Yeah, they’re not really helpful during a parenting crisis.
I’m talking about those moments when your teenage son pushes his little sister across the room because she turned the channel from the NBA draft to a Disney show. She runs toward him and kicks him in the shins. Seconds later, they are both screaming, the dog is barking, and the entire house is in complete chaos.
When your kids, the TV and the dog are competing for the loudest-noise-ever award, the thought that children are a reward from the Lord is probably not going to cross your mind. That’s why, in the midst of day-to-day sibling rivalries, sarcasm, crude manners, drama and disobedience, we have to remember to parent with the end in mind.
Right now, my kids are just in elementary school. I’m learning, though, to imagine the day they’ll pack their belongings into the car and pull out of the driveway as adults.
When I picture that day, all kinds of thoughts run through my head. Will my son’s integrity be solid? Will my daughter’s character be strong? Will he have a thriving relationship with Jesus? What will she be thinking as she cruises down the road, waving goodbye to her mom and dad?
It’s a little overwhelming to consider, so I like to keep a few verses in my back pocket. They help me to parent today while keeping tomorrow’s driveway scene in mind. I hope they will help you too!
1. Proverbs 4:23: “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” (NASB).
My top priority as a parent isn’t to shape my child’s actions. It’s to focus on his heart.
If I help him guard his heart, then I don’t need to worry about every little thing he does. The heart is what brings life to my kids. It’s the glimmer in the eye of a happy baby, the sadness of a hurting boy, the shame of an abused little girl, the twinkle of a surprised kid, the hardness of a rebellious teen, the apathy of a defeated young man—the heart is the source of these things.
Parent the heart well and the actions you desire will follow.
2. Hebrews 3:13: “Encourage one another daily” (NIV).
Encouragement acts as a deposit into my child’s heart, while correction is like making a withdrawal. So I try to keep relational change in my pocket when interacting with my kids.
And I’ve noticed something. When my kids are feeling a deficit in our relationship—when I’m no longer encouraging but constantly correcting—they act out. Often times, this results in me providing more correction and even less encouragement. I’m making more withdrawals and zero deposits.
If, however, I take the time to offer encouragement where it’s needed, I find myself engaging with kids whose actions are deserving of more and more encouragement.
3. Proverbs 29:18: “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (KJV).
Does it ever seem like your kids forget that they were made on purpose for a purpose? I know mine do.
They forget that there is more to life than video games, sports and Disney. They forget that they were created as an answer to a problem in this world. As their dad, it’s my job to keep reminding them. Over and over again, I do my best to stir God-sized vision in their hearts.
I sit on my kids’ beds at night and dream with them about the future. I pray over my children, encourage them to stretch themselves, and look for every opportunity to remind them that they were created for a purpose.
And on days when the chaos of parenting overwhelms me, I try to imagine that driveway moment.
I tell myself, If the man or woman behind the wheel leaves with a well-protected heart, one full of humble confidence and a focus on God, well then, I think Holly and I will grab some sweet tea, sit on the porch swing, look at one another, and smile.