Determined Parenting

"If one does not know to which port he is sailing, no wind is favorable." - Seneca

What is true in sailing is likewise true with parenting. If you don't know the end-goal and keep it fixed in your mind every day, life's circumstances will toss you to and fro with distractions and many cares (cf. Matt. 13:22) and critical years in the lives of your children will be squandered where your influence is the greatest and their hearts are the most pliable.

We need to have a clear destination in mind as parents: eternal life with Almighty God for every member of our family (and any others we can persuade on the journey; cf. II Cor. 5:11)! And then we must submit every aspect of our lives to the test: Will this help us or hinder us on our spiritual journey? Solomon instructed in Ecclesiastes 9:10 - "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might." If something is worth doing at all, do it right by doing your best. If everlasting life is a worthy aim (and it is!), seek it passionately not lackadaisically. Don't adopt an undisciplined parenting style like the culture around you but be intentional! Know what port to which you are leading your family! Remain determined and seek excellence, no matter what course others around you chart!

If God has blessed you with children, He has entrusted you with an awesome stewardship; that is, the nurturing and training of a child as he or she develops and eventually matures into an adult (cf. Eph. 6:4; Prov. 22:6). But what does excellence in parenting look like? I'll quickly tell you what it isn't: It's not about providing name-brand clothes or the latest tech gadgets or taking expensive vacations or providing a fancy house or any number of physical gifts or luxuries. Parenting excellence is about sanctifying the Lord God in the hearts of your children. And you must demonstrate that holiness in your life first (cf. I Pet. 3:15). Your determination is lacking if God isn't your highest priority in life (cf. Luke 14:26-33). You cannot lead your children to where you yourself are unwilling to go.

It is certainly the case that good parents will be cognizant of the reality that personalities and abilities differ in children and they will make appropriate adjustments along the way in their parenting. Training up the second child in the way he should go might look different than how the first child was trained, and that's perfectly fine as long as we're still sailing for the ultimate port and keeping our eyes and hearts fixed on Jesus (cf. Heb. 12:1,2).

Wise parents that are determined will walk circumspectly and redeem the time because the days are evil (Eph. 5:15,16). We must learn to differentiate between the urgent and the important. The undisciplined will squander precious time on the urgent and leave important matters of eternal significance unfinished (e.g., favoring sports participation over Bible study or secular academics over opportunities to serve, etc.). A spiritually-determined parent is one who is deeply involved in the lives of every member of his family. They eat dinner together every night where possible to stay connected. They have family devotionals together every night where possible where they discuss and meditate on spiritual truths. They worship together and serve their fellow man together regularly. They work through challenges and problems together with God's word and prayer. This is how training and nurturing in the Lord takes place. One day at a time and one step after another. Determined Christian parents keep on keeping on!

Friend, you need to hear these words: If you aren't determined, you won't be a great Christian or a great parent. A strong, zealous determination is critical to spiritual success in this world that is overflowing with religious apathy and ignorance. If your commitment to Christ and His church is moderate (or less), you'll drift from the Lord and raise children with even less spiritual discipline than you possess (can there be a greater tragedy?). Not to mention, if you lack determination you'll make Jesus sick (e.g., Rev. 3:16).

Colin Powell once said: "There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure." This is certainly the case with Christian parents. There are no shortcuts. You will make mistakes. But with a sincere passion for the Lord, His word, and your children, you can overcome your errors, continue growing in grace and knowledge before God, and have real success as a father or mother. It will be a lot of hard work, prayers, and even some tears, but unrelenting dedication can make success a reality. Remember, it's not about raising a Rhodes Scholar or a professional athlete or anything like that. When you raise a child with good character who follows Jesus with every fiber of his being because he has his own faith and who is compassionate toward his fellow man (cf. Matt. 22:37,38), you've succeeded beyond measure. Such a child should successfully navigate the difficult teenage years and the faith-testing, young-adult years and remain faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ as he sails out on his own with his own determination.

And what could be better than that for a Christian parent?