The story of David continues. Giant slayer, warrior, fugitive, king of Israel, and now… guilty of murder? In this episode we see how even a man after God’s own heart can fail tragically, but also that God remains faithful.
We all want our kids to grow up with a faith they hold onto as adults. In January, Chap Clark spoke at the Clear Creek Forum on Parenting to share what we can do now to foster lasting faith in our kids’ hearts. While he was in town he sat down with Lance Lawson to answer some questions on the podcast that he didn’t have a chance to address at the event.
Have you ever heard the quote, “Parents aren’t raising children, they are raising future adults”?
That kind of quote is what my friend Daniel calls “thinking material.”
It makes me wonder what kind of adults my kids will turn out to be. Will they be kind and generous? How will they define success? What mistakes will they make? Most importantly, will they know how much God loves them and will they devote their lives to him?
What kind of questions does it make you ask? What do you hope your kids are like as adults?
Being a parent is one of the most demanding roles in life. How many times have you heard a person without kids talk about how busy they are and think, If you only knew! Parents stay busy playing chef, chauffer, and social coordinator for their kids. The days turn into years, and somehow, the craziest phase of life speeds by and you’re left telling young parents, “Enjoy it. It flies by!”
The idea that my kids are future adults scares me a little. Not because I don’t have confidence in who they will become, but because I know how important my role in shaping them is. I know how consuming the day-to-day can be, and I don’t want to look back and wish I had been more intentional about things that matter after adolescence.
I bet some of you feel that too.
Here are three commitments I made years ago that I hope keep my eyes looking to the future adults my kids will be.
HAVE AWKWARD CONVERSATIONS
Kids are curious. Their questions start out harmless enough. “Where does the toilet water go when you flush it?” or “Why do you have hair under your arms?” Before long it’s “Why are some people mean?” and “Where do babies come from?”
How you handle those questions will determine what your kids do with more mature ones like, “Does God hate my gay friend?” and “Does evolution disprove God’s existence?”
In our house, no topic of conversation is off limits. We keep the content of conversations age appropriate, but we are committed to talking to our kids about anything and everything. They know they can ask us any question they have. Sometimes it can be awkward, but it’s worth it every time.
The truth is, kids will seek out answers to their questions somewhere. They’ll turn to Google, friends, or a teacher. I want my voice to be part of the chorus of voices influencing what they think and believe about things.
Kids want to know about sex, money, politics, racial tension, gender issues, and why some of our beliefs push against popular world views. They have questions about what they see online and what they hear their friends talking about.
If you aren’t talking to your kids about these things, who is doing it for you?
DON’T STOP LEARNING
No parent has all the answers. There are great, godly resources available that continue to shape me as a parent, as I work to shape my kids into adults. Staying connected to great resources helps to fill the gaps in my parenting.
Also, the world our kids are growing up in is very different than the world we grew up in. And it’s changing all the time. We don’t have to know every detail about every new thing out there, but keeping our finger on the pulse of adolescent culture and trends keeps us informed enough to be engaged.
PRAY FOR YOUR KIDS DAILY
Even if we managed to parent perfectly, kids will make their own choices and go down their own path. Ultimately, if our kids are going to know God’s great love for them, he has to be the one to open their hearts to it.
Clear Creek’s Lead Pastor, Bruce Wesley, has talked about how he used to pray through Ephesians 3:14-21 with his daughters in mind. This passage is a great place to begin.
Talk to God about your kids. Ask for his help as a parent. Ask for his presence in their lives. Ask him to do in their lives what only he can.
Our children will grow up and have families of their own. They will vote, they will shape the world, and hopefully, they will be our brothers and sisters in Christ.
What commitments can you make now that might influence their future adult selves?
Aric and Lance close out 2020 with a question most of us wonder about at times: why do bad things happen?
A fight between an armored warrior and a shepherd boy with a hiking stick and sling doesn’t seem fair. But what if we’ve been focused on the wrong details in this Old Testament story? What if the story of David and Goliath is really a story about Saul? Find out more in this episode of Who’s in the Bible.
On this episode of Who’s in the Bible? we meet a boy named Samuel, a man named Eli, and we learn God’s name.
If you haven’t listened to episode 23 (Judges), you may want to go back and hear that part of the story before you listen to this one.
My wife and I have been married for almost 15 years and have three elementary-age kids (two boys and a girl). But we aren’t experts at marriage, parenting, or life by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, we feel like we are just getting started.
Over the past three years, we have had the privilege of sitting down with numerous couples in Clear Creek’s Expectant Parents class. Our conversations have been centered on how we, as followers of Christ, can strengthen our marriages once we bring home that precious new life. These conversations have been refreshing, reminding us of the joy and anticipation we felt entering into the new stage of parenthood. But, they’ve also been humbling, reminding us of our constant shortcomings as spouses and parents.
Here are just two examples of our many mistakes and what we’ve learned through them that we hope will be a blessing to you and your family:
1. Thinking we will outgrow selfishness
When we were first married, we quickly became aware of how selfish we were as individuals. This is no surprise to anyone who is married. No longer could we do things exactly how we liked. We had to make concessions to our preferences, like how to load the dishwasher or how to spend our evenings. But after a few arguments which usually ended in laughter, we quickly adjusted and moved on happily enough. However, when we became parents, we were blindsided by the awareness that we were still so selfish.
Before our first baby was born, we could eat out as often as our budget allowed and watch movies without interruption. Bringing a baby home disrupted the idea that we had outgrown our petty and selfish ways.
As God so often does, he kindly spoke truth to us through his word and through his people in the form of wise counsel. We began to hear him say, as he had when we first followed him, “If anyone wants to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). We were again reminded that our Father had called us to love and serve his family and our little family as well.
As our babies turned into toddlers, who turned into preschoolers, we would hear ourselves say quite often to them, “You don’t always get what you want,” or “You can’t have it all. You have to share.” Those words, spoken daily to a four-year-old regarding a Goldfish snack or an eight-year-old regarding device time, are the same words that we hear our Father speak to us as parents.
Each day we get to choose whether we will scream like the four-year-old who does not get her Goldfish or whether we will let go of our expectations and follow him.
2. Thinking we will lead our kids spiritually without being intentional
At the time our first baby was born, we were both connected at church, attending small group, and serving to lead unchurched people to be fully devoted followers of Christ. If we had been asked about our priorities in raising our newborn, sharing God’s grace and love with him would have been at the top of the list.
By the time our third child was born, we were in the same position, actively engaging with our Top Five and leading a small group. However, something was different in our home. All of a sudden, and before we realized it, our children could walk, talk, understand, and engage.
We realized that we had spent years talking around our kids about God and his work in our lives, but we hadn’t been intentional about talking to our kids about God and his work in our lives.
For years we had hosted small groups every week in our home both for high school students and for adults. But, for our children, the extent of their small group experience was the frantic cleaning of our home the minutes before guests arrived, the shoving of them into their rooms, and the fleeting aroma of snacks which they rarely tasted.
Once again, God, in his kindness, showed us that we needed to be intentional in discipling our kids if we were going to raise them in a way that demonstrated he was important to us. Discipleship would not happen on its own.
We realized that each day, we can let the moments slide past all too quickly, or we can choose to set aside time to intentionally lead and disciple our children.
We continue to be witnesses to these daily mistakes as well as many others in our own parenting. We humbly recognize that without consistent and daily prayer as a couple, we will fall into the traps of selfishness and of unintentionality.
In our class, we have shared our stories of arguments, fears, mishaps, and frustrations with expectant couples, in hopes that our stories would bring encouragement to people approaching their own parenting adventures.
One of the things we have learned, and continue to learn, is that parenting is refining. We, as parents, have made, and continue to make, mistakes. We are continually reminded of the call to repent and believe the good news of Jesus Christ. Even through the difficulties of parenting, God is drawing us to himself and giving us rest in the work he has already performed.