Parenting from the Heart

The goal of biblical parenting is to address children’s behavior at the level of the heart. The heart is the source of behavior, so if true, lasting change is to occur, the heart must be impacted by the parents’ teaching and discipline. It is possible, though, for you to focus on the heart issues of your children but not deal honestly with your own heart. Perhaps that is the reason that getting to heart issues with children is sometimes so elusive–you yourself are not parenting from the heart.

In the last post we talked about euphemisms and how they can keep you from knowing the full power of God’s restorative grace in your life. One reality of life that is essential for parents to understand and internalize is that sin will be with us as long as we are on this earth. In one sense, we will never be free of sin in this life. Yes, we can make progress. Yes, we can know victory over an angry spirit or other sinful behavior. But pride is always there. Pride is constantly tugging at you to suggest that you can succeed without God’s help. Pride catches you by surprise with its attacks. It is subtle. It plays on your weaknesses. When you feel overwhelmed and think that you just can’t go on, pride is doing its work. The enemy wants you to rely on your own strength and to focus on the unfairness of life. The enemy wants you to feel alone and abandoned. This is the mission of pride: to separate you from loving and relying upon God and his power for your life.

It is easy to think that pride in parenting means that you think of yourself as Super Parent – the parent who can do everything with ease and leap over all of life’s problems in a single effortless bound. Yes, that is pride. But pride is also being so discouraged and down that you believe there is no hope at all. In despair you think that you and you alone are left to handle the kids, your spouse, and all of the struggles and failures of life. What are you thinking!? God has promised that he will never leave you or forsake you! God has promised that he will give wisdom and strength if you only ask. It is pride that persuades you that you are alone and doomed to failure.Easter–Resurrection Day–means that the power of the cross not only freed you from your sin and the wrath of God, but also that you have God’s power available as you live every day doing what he has given you to do. Pride robs you of that comforting power of God. Pride causes brokenness over sin to lead to discouragement, disillusionment, and weakness. Knowing humility at the cross causes brokenness to lead to a heart that is contrite and renewed. As David says in Psalm 51:17 “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” When you are broken over your sin, pride whispers in your heart God does despise you, you have failed, why bother? You’ll never change. There is no hope. When you agree with these thoughts you disparage the work of Christ on your behalf. You have taken matters into your own hands. God’s way is to see contriteness as the path to knowing the power of the cross in your life.

We will look at this idea more in the next post. Give some thought to ways that pride might be masquerading as discouragement in your life as a parent. Let me know your thoughts. There is real hope in the power of the Cross, the true message of Easter.

Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Psalm 51:8-12 NIV

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