Archives For Parenting

Parenting certainly has been different than I imagined it would be as we prepared to welcome our first daughter into the world a dozen years ago. For one thing, I grew up with nothing but brothers, so I never imagined having three daughters and one son. I also figured that by the time I was an almost forty-year-old man I would know exactly how to parent my children because I already had so many great parenting theories as a twenty-seven-year-old man with no kids.

In many ways, parenting has been a school of hard knocks for me because I never thought that my children would actually be sinners who ignored or rebelled against what I told them instead of being a mindless automaton who always said, “yes sir Dad. I’ll do that right now.” Through every one of my four children shattering my misconceptions about parenting, dealing with my own sin, learning how to work together with Beth to parent our children well, and seeing what a joy and blessing children can be, I’ve learned a lot on this journey.

What follows is not an exhaustive list of everything that needs to be said about parenting, but these are nine lessons I have learned along the way.

Don’t Put Your Marriage on Hold

If you are married with children, you don’t have the option of hitting the pause button on your marriage until you have raised them. You are part of a one-flesh union that needs to be cultivated for the glory of God and for your joy. Therefore, you should put your kids to bed at a decent hour so that you can spend time with your spouse. While I agree with everyone who stresses the importance of date night, I have found that the day in and day out time together is of greater importance. Make the time each day to laugh together, do something together, and talk with each other about something other than the kids. A healthy marriage often leads to healthy parenting.

The Family Dinner Table is Your Friend

If you were to ask me to name an overwhelming image from my childhood, it would be sitting around the dinner table laughing with my family. Naturally, this was something I wanted for our children as well and the benefits of trying to eat several meals together around the table at night have been legion. At the table we talk, laugh, tell stories, teach our kids, and enjoy our them. Some of the best times of connecting with our kids have come around the table.

Ask for Forgiveness When You are Wrong

We do not enjoy admitting when we are wrong. This can be especially true when it comes to our children. We don’t like to admit when we have wronged them because it possibly gives our children the upper hand against us. As hard as it may be, if you have falsely accused your children of something, made a mistake that negatively affected them, or lost your temper with them; apologize and ask for their forgiveness. Don’t use it as a time to correct their behavior or point out how they contributed to what you did. Just say you were wrong and ask them to forgive you. This models repentance for your children, teaches them to own their own sin when they are wrong, and builds trust between you.

Losing Your Temper is Lose/Lose

Write James’s words, “the anger of man cannot achieve the righteousness of God” over all of your parenting. When you lose your temper with your children, it undermines whatever good you may have been trying to do in disciplining them. They stop listening to what you are saying to them and only think about the fact that you are angry with them. In the strength that God’s Spirit provides, work hard to control your temper, modeling for your children how to love your neighbor and exercise self-control. This way they can focus on what they need to learn instead of thinking about how much your tone scares them.

Discipline for Disobedience, but not Mistakes

Sometimes as parents, we get angry with our children for things they did that were accidents. This teaches our kids that they get in trouble for making mistakes. We have to have the wisdom to know the difference between our children disobeying and making a mistake. For example, if you told your child not to get milk out of the refrigerator and he does it anyway, that’s disobedience. If you tell him he can have milk and he spills it, that’s a mistake. Know the difference and respond accordingly.

Answer Their Hard Questions

My children ask many questions I would prefer not to answer. Either the answer is complicated or uncomfortable to talk about. They are going to get their questions answered somewhere though, and I want them to know they can come to Mom and Dad with their questions. This means we have long repeated talks about spiritual truths, explaining them the best way we know how. The hardest conversations are the ones that bring up the ugly side of life or the pain of this world, but these subjects cannot be avoided. We’ve had many talks about death, divorce, war, poverty, and a host of other issues I didn’t think we would talk about before a tenth birthday. The conversations are not always comfortable, but they build trust and allow us to help shape our children’s view of the world.

Stop Freaking Out About Them

I meet many parents who are afraid they will unalterably damage their children before they are old enough to speak. The truth is that you are not going to “screw up” your child if you love them, teach them, and treat them with respect. These fears come from our desire to control everything and parenting shakes our control issues like few other things in life do. God is in control and you aren’t, so raise your children in the way he has laid out in his word and trust him. He’s good and he does good. (Closely related to this is the ridiculous list of things we believe we must provide for our children so they can have a magical childhood. Release yourself from the pressure of having to provide your child with amazing experiences all the time. It’s nothing but guilt-inducing madness created by burdens that God hasn’t put on you.)

Have Fun with Them

This is closely related to my previous point. Sometimes we get so caught up in doing things for our children that we forget to do things with them. Take a walk, go to the park, or play a game. Do fun things with your children. They’re funny, fun to be around, and these years go by faster than I care to admit. Enjoy it with them.

Teach the Gospel in Everyday Life

The temptation when we think about teaching the Gospel to our kids is to only think about family devotions and taking our kids to church each Sunday. Teaching our children the Gospel does take place through family devotions and our local church body, but it takes place in other ways as well. Talk about the Gospel with your children as an everyday part of life. This is what Moses had in mind in Deuteronomy 6 when he tells us to talk about these things when we sit in the house and when we walk by the way. When you want to encourage your child to be kind, remind them of the kindness God has shown to them through Jesus. Use the love of God to teach about loving your neighbor. Talk about your own spiritual life, listen to good Gospel-centered music together, and let the language of the Gospel shape the language of your home.

Related Posts:
The Joy and Pain of Consistent Parenting

For Further Reading:
Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family by Paul Tripp

Family Worship by Donald Whitney

At the beginning of a new year, we often think about the things we want to do well for the next three hundred sixty-five days. We often prove ourselves to be great at applying ourselves to our resolutions for a season, but we struggle to persevere in doing these things for the long haul.

There are few areas of our lives in which we struggle more than we do with perseverance in parenting. For a while, we spend quality time with our kids, and then we get into a busy season where our kids start getting the short end of the stick. We have consistent family devotions, then suddenly cannot remember when the last one was. We discipline them consistently, taking the time to talk to them about their behavior and not letting offenses slide. Then, we go through a period where we overlook misbehavior and then lash out in frustration because they aren’t listening to what we say.

The hardest part of parenting is not knowing what to do. Knowing how to teach and pray for your kids is not as hard as you think it is. Often, our instincts about the best way to discipline our children are usually correct, and most parents want to spend quality time with their children.

The hardest aspect of parenting is often not our lack of understanding, but our failure to persevere. As parents, what we need the most is go continue doing the little things every single day.

There are three particular areas in which we need to persevere.

Persevere in Quality Time

Our children want us more than they want stuff from us, but how often do we give our children things so they will occupy themselves so we can have time alone? We need time to recharge and spend with our spouses. Our children must know how to entertain themselves, but we also have to recognize how much our children crave time with us. Fishing, hiking, reading, playing a game, throwing a ball, or sitting around a fire to roast marshmallows provide great opportunities for us to connect with our children each day.
Our children will be more receptive to our discipline and teaching when we spend regular time with them because it flows from our relationship with them. As Ted Tripp points out in Shepherding a Child’s Heart, we parent mainly from authority when our children are young. If we find them touching something they shouldn’t, we can take it away from them or pick them up and move them somewhere else. As they grow older, we still parent from our God-given authority, but our relationship with them becomes a much larger aspect of our parenting. They tend to listen more and be more receptive to our parenting when we spend consistent time with them.

We often find that this is a joy to us as well. Our children are a gift from God. Spending time with them often leads to fun, laughter, joy, and lasting memories. Each of our children has unique personalities and are fun and funny in their own way. Spending time together brings this out, so stop thinking that you will magically “find time” to spend with them and make the time.

Persevere in Teaching and Discipline

The Bible calls parents to teach and discipline our children. Moses’ words from Deuteronomy 6:7 provide insight into how we do this. “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Much of our parenting takes place in the context of ordinary life. We teach, correct, instruct, and discipline our children while we are doing the things we usually do every day.

In addition to teaching as we walk through life, we need to set aside time for teaching through family devotions. When we hear about family devotions, we shouldn’t picture Dad preaching a twenty-minute sermon to the kids. (If your kids are small, it can’t and won’t be this.) In his book Family Worship, Don Whitney offers a simple method for family devotion anyone can do whether they know the Bible well or not- read, pray, sing. Read a portion of the Bible. If your kids are small, this can be from a children’s Bible like The Big Picture Story Bible or The Jesus Storybook Bible. When they get older, progress into reading a section from your favorite translation. Depending on where your children are, you can work on memory verses or a catechism together. Then spend some time in prayer together and sing a song. These can be children’s songs like “Jesus Loves Me” or simple hymns like “Come Thou Fount” or “Be Thou My Vision.”

We must also discipline our children. Truthfully, I find it difficult to separate discipline from teaching because they go together hand in hand. We do not discipline our children to punish them for what they have done, but to instruct their hearts so they will be different in the future. Discipline should not look the same all the time, but we should tailor it to the situation and the bent of our children. While how we discipline is a matter of wisdom at the moment, disciplining our children is not up for debate. God commands children to obey their parents, and we should expect them to obey the first time that we tell them to do something. Anything other than their first-time obedience must result in discipline for the sake of your children’s souls and your future sanity.

Persevere in Prayer

Finally, parents need to persevere in praying for and with our children. Pretend for a second that you could do a perfect job parenting your children. You always kept your cool when they disobeyed and told them exactly what they needed to hear in every situation. You read the Bible to them every day and spent the perfect amount of quality time with them. You led them to friendships with the right kids and gave them every opportunity they needed. Even if you did all these things correctly, it would not guarantee that your child would become a Christian or behave properly. Only the grace of God can take your parenting and make it effective, so you must pray.

We should pray for our children and for our parenting every day. Pray God would cover our efforts with grace, forgive us where we fail, and empower us to persevere in our parenting. Pray God would change our children’s hearts by the power of his Spirit and raise them up to follow him and bring him glory. We need God, and our children need God, so we must daily plead for them before the throne of grace.

Not only should we pray for our children, but we should also pray with our children. By doing this, they learn how to pray and what subjects we bring before the Lord in prayer. They get to see our family pray for needs and how God answers those prayers. Also, our children should hear us pray for their salvation. Our prayers teach them what we value the most and by praying for their salvation, they will consistently hear about their need for Christ.

Parenting is hard, so we must write Galatians 6:9 over all of our parenting. “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

Related Posts:
The Joy and Pain of Consistent Parenting

57 Scattered Thoughts on Parenting

pexels-photo-52907

Sunday begins the Advent season, which is the four Sundays leading up to the celebration of Christmas. Advent looks back at Christ’s first arrival and anticipates the time when he will come again. Just as the light came into the darkness when Jesus was born, so he will appear again in glorious light that will vanquish the darkness finally and completely.

In the busyness of the Christmas season, Advent serves as a wonderful reminder to slow down and meditate on who Christ is and what he has done. One great practical way to do this is to have Advent devotions each night with your family. Taking the time to read Scripture, pray, and sing great songs of the faith will remind you of the work Jesus accomplished when he came the first time and what he will do when he comes again.

Light the Advent Candles

The Advent wreath contains three purple candles and one pink candle in a circle with a white candle in the middle. During devotions, light one candle during the first week of Advent, and one new candle each additional week. One Christmas Eve, light the white Christ child candle in the middle. The increasing light reminds us of the darkness that existed before Jesus came into the world and serves as a testimony to his Gospel which continues to bring light to a dark world.

While lighting the candles, whoever is leading devotion says, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light, and the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” Then the family responds, “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

Read the Bible

If your family has struggled before with devotions, Advent is a good time to get started again. Begin these devotions with the reading of Scripture. Several great options exist for deciding what to read. You can focus on the narratives of Jesus’ birth in Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2. Also, you can use a list of readings (http://www.biblestudytools.com/topical-verses/advent-bible-verses) from both testaments that focus on the coming Messiah.

There are also several good books with devotions you can read with your family. Nancy Guthrie’s http://amzn.to/2gt1fsaLet Every Heart Prepare Him Room, John Piper’s The Dawning of Indestructible Joy, or Scott James’ The Expected One will give you passages to read and questions to discuss together. The goal is to spend a short time focusing on the Scripture and to think about who Jesus is and what he has come to do.

Sing

One of the great joys of the Christmas season is singing together as a family. Many Christmas hymns do more than bring back good memories, they also serve to teach the great truths of the faith. Songs such as Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, What Child is This, and Joy to the World point us to the glorious work of Jesus and the sovereign grace of God that brings us back to him. You may choose to sing several of these songs a night or focus on one for the entirety of Advent. Singing together celebrates what Jesus has done and reinforces the teaching of God’s word.

Pray

Close out by spending some time together as a family in prayer. Pray through your family’s needs and also pray in light of some of the themes covered in your Advent reading. This models for your kids how to thank God for what he has done for us in Christ. Another thing you can do is to pray for families who send you Christmas cards. Pull one card out of the pile every night and pray for the family on the card. Then send them a note or a message to let them know you were praying for them.

Making the time for Advent devotions is a great way to slow down and remember what is most important this holiday season. Reading, praying, and singing turns our hearts away from the busyness and materialism of the world and draws them near to Christ, who loved us and gave himself up for us.

Related Posts:
How to Read the Bible Every Day

The Best Quotes from Hidden Christmas

For Further Reading:
Hidden Christmas by Timothy Keller

Child in the Manger by Sinclair Ferguson

Six Things a Godly Dad Does

August 21, 2016

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
Ephesians 6:4

The words of Paul in Ephesians 6 remind Christian fathers that our parenting has a great end towards which we must aim. God gave us the task of teaching, correcting, disciplining, loving, and training our children so that they come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and walk in a way which pleases him. We often feel unequipped for this task, but looking to the Scriptures and seeing the example of other godly dads give us instruction for this great task.

Our oldest daughter just celebrated her eleventh birthday, so I have now been a parent for over a quarter of my life. There have been sins, mistakes, wins and growth as we seek to raise our four children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. I have ransacked the Bible, read books, watched other godly men, and asked them lots of questions as I have sought to discover the answer to the question, “what does a godly dad do?”

A Godly Dad Keeps Growing

A man can only be an effective father as he continues to grow spiritually. Our marriage and parenting will be impacted by our sin and lack of maturity. We will be impatient, temperamental, rude, thoughtless, and respond sinfully to being sinned against, so our only option is to keep growing in holiness and sanctification. Putting to death the sin in our lives and growing in Christlike maturity will have a practical effect on the way we lead our homes.

This means that fathers must spend time in our Bibles, in prayer, and actively seeking to walk in obedience by the power of God’s Spirit. Since we believe that the Gospel not only justifies us before God, but also is the means by which we grow as believers, we ought to meditate on the truths of the Gospel and live remembering who we are because of Jesus. When we see sin in our lives, we must repent and seek to grow. Where we see immaturity and foolishness, we take steps to grow in maturity and wisdom. The work we have been called to as fathers and husbands is too important for us to take a lackadaisical approach to our walk with Jesus.

A Godly Dad Loves His Wife

Men, before the call to parent our children is the call to love our wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. We can so center our homes on our children that we neglect our marriages, and a neglected marriage will become an unhappy marriage. All of our parenting efforts can be undone when resentments and hurts build up between our wives and ourselves.

We need time together with our wives without our children around. Date nights will prove to be important, especially when our children are young. It can be freeing to get out of the house and have a meal without having to feed another person, and also gives you something to look forward to together. However, as great as date night is, time together every day is of greater importance. Just as you can’t work out once a month and expect to be in shape, you shouldn’t expect one date night a month to be sufficient for growing your marriage. Get your kids in bed or in their rooms at a decent hour so you can talk, read together, watch a movie together, or simply hang out in the same room. This will give you the time together you so desperately need for your marriage to grow and give you joy.

A Godly Dad Teaches Consistently

Moses tells fathers to talk with their children about the commands and statutes of the Lord as they sit in their houses and walk by the way. He uses this rhetorical device to underscore the necessity of fathers teaching their children in every instance of life. The wise father will see all of life as an opportunity to teach his children about the Gospel, walking with Jesus, and practical wisdom.

Family devotions are not the only way for a father to teach his children, but they certainly can play a key role in the formation of our children. These times of worship as a family don’t require hours of preparation and a sermon, but are simple times to read, pray, and sing with our children. When your children are younger, you can read through The Big Picture Story Bible or The Jesus Storybook Bible with them. As they grow older, read a paragraph a night from one of the Gospels or a chapter from Proverbs. Then sing an age appropriate song that will teach them about the character of God and the Gospel. Close out by praying together. If you can set aside the time to have family devotions four nights a week, you will read, pray, and sing with your children over thirty-five hundred times before they leave for college. There won’t be a major breakthrough or “aha” moment every night, but the consistency over the course of years will make a major impact.

A Godly Dad Disciplines Patiently

A few months ago I wrote a post titled, “The Joy and Pain of Consistent Parenting.” It was an extended meditation on Proverbs 29:17, “Discipline your son and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.” Consistently teaching, correcting, and disciplining our children can be exhausting work. We can easily give in to the temptation to let things go we should address or to “parent” by simply barking orders, and neither of these is an acceptable option.

Instead, we must patiently and consistency discipline our children. When our children are wrong and need to be disciplined, it is imperative that we take the time to calmly and patiently talk with them about what happened. Rather than yelling or losing our tempers so that our kids are focused on our sin instead of their own, we have to take the time to calm down so we can have a conversation with our children about the discipline they are facing. We should talk with them about the foolishness or sinfulness of what they did, what the Scriptures say about what they have done, and remind them that we discipline them because we love them. This takes time and is definitely not the easy way out, but it will train the hearts of our children and be better for them in the long run.

A Godly Dad Repents When He is Wrong

“What I said to you and the way I said it was wrong. Will you forgive me?” I don’t know that there is a more difficult thing for a father to say to his children. We will sin against our children at some point in our parenting, either through losing our temper, accusing falsely, speaking harshly, or in a thousand other ways. When we sin against our children, we must repent to the Lord and repent to our children.

The greatest temptation you will face when apologizing to your kids is seeking to justify your sinful behavior based on their sinful behavior. Resist this urge with everything you have because you sinned and that is all that matters. Repenting and asking for forgiveness will model repentance, humility, and the Gospel to your children. It will also teach them that they will be hurt throughout their lives and must learn how to forgive. Also, this process of repentance and forgiveness builds trust with your children. They know that what you say about repentance is real, and they also know that you value your relationship with them enough to humble yourself and admit you are wrong.

A Godly Dad Knows He Needs the Power of the Holy Spirit

Men, if what we have just talked about sounds like hard work, it is. We get up in the mornings, go to work during the day, come home to play with and spend time with our children, and then get them in bed so we can spend time with our wives. Then we fall in the bed ourselves so we can get up and get back at it again tomorrow. It doesn’t make for an interesting reality show, but this self-giving is central to what it means to be a father and a husband.

Because we must work hard and give ourselves in a way that is not natural to us, we need the power of God’s Spirit. We need his help to stay encouraged, to love, to exercise self-control, and to make our labors effective because we cannot change the hearts of our children. As Paul said, we labor in the strength that God provides, and pray that he would use our labors in our homes to change our children’s lives and bring glory to himself.

Related Posts:
How Do I Know if My Child Has Become a Christian?
To the Parents of Young Children

For Further Reading:
Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp
Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson

photo credit: DSC_8457 via photopin (license)

photo credit: DSC_8457 via photopin (license)

God tasks parents with the holy calling of raising our children, “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” In this our greatest task is to help them understand the Gospel so they might trust in Christ and be saved. The problem for parents is that we often have a difficult time discerning when our kids have truly come to Christ. Either we get excited that our kids are showing interest in the Gospel and pronounce them Christians too quickly or we are so afraid of them making a false profession of faith that we go a long time without treating them as a brother or sister in Christ.

As parents we do have some guidance in knowing if our children are truly in the faith. Everything that would be present in an adult’s conversion will be present in a child’s conversion, but it will show itself in a different manner. I was 19 when I came to Jesus, and was aware of my new life in Christ the moment it took place. At the same time we have stories like John Piper’s. He does not remember his conversion, but his mother was convinced he came to faith and he does not remember ever not believing since then.

We can never know beyond a shadow of a doubt if our child has actually trusted in Christ, but we can see evidences that point to a genuine conversion. Here are some questions we can ask as we attempt to discern whether or not our children have trusted in Christ.

Does Your Child Know He Needs a Savior?

Awareness of sin and the need for a savior is an absolute necessity in conversion. While a child will not have years of drunkenness or debauchery for which they should be ashamed, he will know he has sinned and needs to be forgiven. In Romans 2, Paul talks about the law being written on the heart of every person. We instinctively know we have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

When your child tells you he wants to become a Christian or starts talking about baptism, ask him why he is thinking about this now. Draw out of him, in his words at his age level, whether he feels conviction for his sins and knows that he needs a Savior. Unless he is convinced of his sins, he cannot know that he has a problem from which he needs to be saved.

Does Your Child Understand Jesus’ Death and Resurrection?

If your child shows awareness of and conviction for sin, begin to talk to her about Jesus. You will not be looking for her to give a discourse on the hypostatic union or penal substitutionary atonement. Does she know Jesus is the son of God? Does she believe that he is real, and that he lived the perfect life we could never live?

Then you should move into a discussion about Jesus’ death and resurrection. Can she articulate the basic facts about Jesus’ death and resurrection? Again, you are not looking for a doctoral level treatise, but in her words can she tell you about what Jesus did for her. What you are looking for here is illumination. As she talks about Jesus, do you see an awareness that she understands and knows this at a heart level?

Does Your Child Believe She is Saved by Repentance and Faith?

The other night we read about the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment so she could be healed in our family devotion. Jesus told her that her faith made her well. I took that opportunity to talk to our daughters about salvation being by faith alone. Their Dad is a pastor, their Grandfather is a pastor, their Uncle is a pastor, and their Great-Grandfather was a pastor. They never remember a time when they were not gathering with the church each Sunday and never remember a time when they were not hearing the Gospel in family devotions and in discussions during everyday life, so I wanted to make sure they heard a clear reminder that none of these things make them a Christian.

When your child approaches you about becoming a Christian, you must make sure that she gets this. “For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves.” The Scripture’s testimony is clear, and while your child may not be able to give you an excursus on justification by faith alone and imputed righteousness, you do want her to evidence that she knows she must repent and trust in Jesus. Does she understand that her works or her baptism don’t make her a Christian, but that repentance and trust in Jesus do? Does she have childlike faith in Jesus Christ alone?

Is Your Child Showing Signs of New Life?

Seeing signs of the work of the Spirit in your child’s life is not as evident as it would be in an adult. Your six-year old is not going to have the same kind of testimony that a man with a notorious past would have, but his salvation is just a miraculous. If he has trusted in Jesus, he has been born again and the Holy Spirit indwells him. He will shows evidences of conversion.

If believers grow in conviction over our sins, compassion for other people, and display the fruit of the Spirit, then this will be present in your child’s life. It will be there in childlike form, but it will be there. You will also start to see the lights come on for him spiritually. He will start to understand more of God’s truth and demonstrate a greater awareness of God’s work in his life. As you observe his life, do you see signs of the Spirit’s work in him?

Is Your Child Free from External Pressures?

The invitation system, a pressure-packed VBS or kids’ camp, and friends getting baptized can start putting pressure on your child to make a profession of faith without actually understanding the Gospel. Often children want to know why they can’t take Communion, and hear the answer, “because you haven’t been baptized yet.” In their minds the solution seems simple, “then let me get baptized so I can take Communion.”

You can never know for certain that your child has pure motives in his desire to become to profess Christ, but you should examine to the best of your ability any outside forces that may be exerting pressure on him. Ask him what made him start thinking about this. It may have been a friend’s baptism, but what about the event made him start pondering it for himself? Communion may have sparked an interest in him, but does he just want to take the bread and juice, or did hearing the meaning of Communion draw him to Jesus? These are all factors for you to ask about, think through, and pray over.

Always Bring the Gospel to Your Children

Your child does not get a visible mark on her forehead or a stripe on her back when she comes to Jesus, so you have to talk, pray, and discern. Invite your pastor in to talk to your child and ask questions. He may be able to see and hear things you don’t.

Most of all though, keep putting the Gospel in front of your children. Talk about it in everyday life, in family devotions, and around the table after Sunday worship. Sing songs, pray over your kids, and repent to them when you have wronged them. God’s word never returns void, our labor in the Lord is not in vain, and in due time we will sow if we reap, so take every opportunity to tell and show your kids that Jesus is better than life.

Related Posts:
Teaching Proverbs to Your Children

The Joy and Pain of Consistent Parenting

For Further Reading:
Big Thoughts for Little Thinkers: The Gospel by Joey Allen

Your Child’s Profession of Faith by Dennis Gundersen

I won’t be preaching this Mother’s Day. Our family is on vacation and one of our elders will be preaching for our church family.

As a pastor I struggle with what to do for Mother’s Day. The day can be associated with a lot of pain for those struggling with infertility, miscarriage, the death of a mother, or relational estrangement from a mother. Do I really want to have people come to worship to hear the good news and reopen all of their wounds because of a Hallmark holiday?

At the same time, motherhood is a high calling of which the Bible speaks in glowing terms. While the day might not be part of what we would call the church calendar, this cultural celebration offers great opportunities to celebrate the gift of motherhood and look at the biblical injunctions to mothers.

So, if I were preaching this Sunday, this would be the heart of my sermon.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30

The Danger Mothers Face

Mothers face endless sources of needless guilt. The greatest sense of guilt you face comes from within yourself as you never feel like you measure up to what it means to be a good mother. There is always something else you feel like you should do, or you cannot stop thinking about that mistake you made.

Our culture doesn’t make things easier on mothers either. You are neglecting your children if you work and lazy if you stay home with your children. You are poisoning them if you fix them processed food and turning them into morons if you let them watch television while you fight the mountain of laundry. You are putting your children in danger if you let them play unattended and smothering them if you keep a watchful eye out. (I could keep going.)

The pressure on mothers begins early and never lets up. At every turn there is a cadre of experts telling you what you should be doing to have a healthy and successful child. If you don’t have them trained to sleep by two months old and meeting developmental milestones at every doctors’ appointment you feel like a failure. You must put together magical and memorable themed birthday parties and enroll them in every possible activity so they can find their passion. Oh, and don’t forget to read to them hours a day so they can develop their vocabulary and imagination.

The cacophony of voices would not be so bad if moms didn’t buy into what they were selling so often. Apart from the Gospel, every person has a desire for self-justification and this takes many forms in our lives. For moms, the temptation is to find your identity and sense of righteousness in being a good mother.

Falling for this temptation leads to two terrible consequences. Either you will feel like you have succeeded and become puffed up with pride so that you look down on everyone else around you or you will believe you have failed and will fall into despair and self-loathing. In addition, when you look to your parenting for self-justification, you put burdens on yourself and on your children that neither of you can bear or were meant to bear.

The Good News Mothers Need to Hear

This brings us to the words of our text. The Pharisees loaded people down with unreasonable expectations leading them to pride or despair. More often though the people were weighed down with despair.

Jesus invites people to come to him. To come to Jesus means to embrace him by faith and to rest in the work he accomplishes for us in his life, death, and resurrection. Through simple faith in Jesus, every one of our sins is atoned for and we stand before God draped in Jesus’ perfect righteousness.

We have no more need for self-justification when we look to Jesus. He invites those weighed down with unreasonable guilt and expectations to come to him, lay down our futile efforts, and rest in his finished work for us.

Jesus’s words serve to remind us that he is a compassionate Savior. He came to earth and experienced every one of our weaknesses and temptations. He knows what it is like to be tired, overwhelmed, and discouraged. He comes to our aid as we face these temptations. The tired and weary soul can come to him and receive grace to help in our time of need.

Jesus also promises to give a different burden when we come to him. No longer does the person who comes to Jesus carry the heavy burden of self-justification. Instead they get to carry Jesus’ burden which is easy and light. The Christian labors, not under the pain of unbearable burdens, but in the great freedom Jesus provides.

This is incredible news for Christian moms. You can carry out the responsibility Jesus has given you, to raise your children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, with freedom instead of drudgery. When you are tired, overwhelmed, and confused, you can come to Jesus and he will give you his peace and his help. When you feel insufficient for the task, you can remember God gave you his Holy Spirit to empower you to do everything God has called you to do.

Tired mom, come to Jesus and find rest. Overwhelmed mom, come to Jesus and find peace. Guilt-laden mom, come to Jesus and find forgiveness. Proud and judgmental mom, come to Jesus and find humility and compassion. Whatever your discouragements, whatever your temptations, whatever your fears, come to Jesus and find the help you so desperately need.

Related Posts:
The Joy and Pain of Consistent Parenting

For Further Reading:
Missional Motherhood by Gloria Furman

Our four children have been a constant source of joy, exhaustion, difficulty, laughter, and many other emotions I cannot list. Our oldest daughter will be eleven this year, our second daughter celebrates her eighth birthday Friday, our youngest daughter turned three a few weeks ago and my is fourteen months old. People see our family and say, “your hands are full.” They are, so is my lap when we read. My heart is also full, and because of our children my knees are calloused and my hair is turning grey.

Below is a list of scattered thoughts on parenting and being a parent. Some come from hard lessons I have learned along the way. Others come from watching other good parents so I can learn from them and I gleaned the most from listening to my amazing wife as she has helped me while we walked through journey together.

1. Parenting is difficult, but it also brings much joy. Persevere when times are hard and enjoy the good times when they come.

2. Men, if you are with your children while your wife is away from home you are not babysitting, you are parenting.

3. Don’t count to three, you’re just giving them a few more seconds to disobey.

4. Every stage of parenting is difficult and at every stage you will be greeted by overwhelming grace.

5. Don’t think family devotion has to be the length of your church’s worship service. Read, sing, and pray. Never underestimate the impact consistently doing these small things will make. Nothing good can happen when you discipline out of anger.

6. Write this over all your parenting, “the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.

7. Do not ignore your spouse once you have children. Continue to cultivate your marriage. This doesn’t just mean date nights either. Look for the opportunity to spend consistent quality time.

8. Disciplining your children is difficult, but dealing with what happens when you don’t discipline is worse.

9. Start teaching your kids the Bible when they are young. They will drink in more than you think.

10. Sing with your kids everyday.

11. Teach your kids about their family tree, especially by telling stories. It’s good for them to know who and what came before them.

12. Go for walks together as a family, and in the woods when possible. There’s something wonderful about being outside together away from technology.

13. Encourage your kids to serve in the church. They need to learn how to work for something bigger than themselves.

14. If you have multiple children, don’t shame the overwhelmed parent with just one child. You were overwhelmed when you were in their place.

15. Give your spouse lots of grace. Give your kids lots of grace, and allow yourself to experience grace.

16. Teach your children how to carry on a conversation with adults.

17. Yes ma’am. No ma’am. Yes sir. No sir. Your kids need to know how to respect adults and people in authority.

18. When your child trusts in Christ your job as a parent is not done. They need to be taught how to follow Jesus, and you can’t farm this responsibility out to other people.

19. I cannot think of any circumstances under which you should criticize your spouse to your children.

20. Establish an allowance as soon as your kids are old enough to understand so they associate earning money with work.

21. I only remember two birthday parties from my first ten years of life. Keep them simple and have a great time.

22. Eat dinner together as a family often. This gives you the opportunity to talk, laugh, and tell stories.

23. Make your kids go to bed early so you can spend time with your spouse.

24. If you sin against your children ask them to forgive you.

25. Teach your children to admit when they are wrong and to forgive when they are wronged.

26. What will it profit if your child earns a scholarship but you forfeited their soul?

27. I’m not exactly sure of the best way to say this- stop freaking out about your kids so much.

28. Read The Chronicles of Narnia with your kids when they were young. The reaction my kids had when Aslan came back to life and Mr. Tumnus was no longer a statue is one of my favorite parenting moments.

29. Teach your kids to bring their hard questions to you and do your best to answer them. They’ll learn to trust your wisdom as they get older.

30. Do not push your child to be baptized before they are ready. Make sure they understand their need for a Savior and that that Jesus is their only hope.

31. Your kids don’t need to specialize in a sport when they are five. Let them play around with lots of different activities and discover what they like on their own.

32. Make sure that you and your spouse are on the same team when it comes to disciplining your children. Talk about your childrearing disagreements behind closed doors and then back each other up.

33. If your child starts a sport or activity, they don’t have to do it again but they must finish out the season or the year. This will help them learn perseverance.

34. When you have little kids do not get obsessed with them reaching milestones by a certain point. As long as they are healthy and growing they will do everything they are supposed to do eventually. Every child progresses at different rates.

35. The Bible teaches us to love, teach, correct, and discipline our children. Outside of that it does not have much to say, so we should hold the strong convictions which we use to look down on other parents loosely.

36. Even if you were to do a perfect job of parenting it would still take God’s grace to make it effective in the life of your child, so pray for them often.

37. Read to your kids as often as possible. What else can you do which provides great time together, expands their vocabulary, teaches them about life, and enlivens their imaginations?

38. Whatever is going on right now on social media is not nearly as important as your children.

39. If you asked me to hand my child a smart phone or a loaded gun, I would have a hard time deciding which one was most dangerous. With either of them I would teach them how to use it wisely and the dangers associated with misuse.

40. Let them jump in the mud puddle every once in a while. In a few years they will avoid them on purpose.

41. Your kids will not announce, “this is the last time I’m going to climb into bed with you on Saturday morning.” Enjoy the times of laughing and snuggling while you can.

42. Teach your kids that Mom and Dad need time together for their sake. Help them understand their lives will be better when Mom and Dad have a strong, happy relationship.

43. You can do chores and tasks around the house fast and correct without your kids or slow and incorrect with your kids. Many times the slow and incorrect way will be more fun.

44. Halfway paying attention to your kids while they are trying to talk to you will only frustrate you both. Either give them your full attention now or tell them to let you finish what you are doing and you will hear everything they have to say then.

45. Your kids will not take you seriously if you make empty threats when they disobey. Do not make outrageous claims like, “I’ll never let you watch TV again” when you know you aren’t going to follow through. Exercise self-control and only promise discipline you know you will do.

46. Teach your kids how to behave around a dinner table so your experience of eating with them in public will not be the most miserable experience of your life.

47. Make sure your kids know your love for them is never contingent upon their performance.

48. When my father-in-law preached his father’s funeral he said, “when Dad got home from work, that’s when the fun started.” This has always seemed like a great rule of thumb.

49. Make sure your children know it is always better to tell the truth and face the consequences than to lie. The best way to build this into them is for the discipline to always be more stiff if they lie.

50. Do not feel guilty if you need to let your child watch TV so you can get some rest. Parenting with your tank empty will almost always lead to a breakdown.

51. Some of the best parenting advice I have ever heard is to remember your child is your neighbor too. Everything the Bible says about how we are to treat our neighbors applies to how we treat our children.

52. Pray for your children’s salvation in their hearing. Let them know that one of your heart’s greatest desires is for them to know Jesus.

53. Never, under any circumstances, belittle your children or call them names. If you are so angry you think you will say hurtful things to them, walk away and talk to them after you have calmed down. You may forget the things you say in anger because now you feel better but your children will not forget.

54. Fathers, you will wake up, go to work, come home to play with your kids, spend time with your wife, and your day will be over. This is what it means to be a man, so learn to embrace it. Please dispense with the idea that you need a day a week for your hobbies and two nights a week to watch sports. You will not remember the game in a couple of weeks, but what you do with your wife and kids will last past your lifetime.

55. At the same time, you do need time with other adults for fun, encouragement, and recharging. Don’t feel guilty about doing this, but also don’t let it be an excuse for neglecting your family.

56. If you do not feel sufficient for the task of parenting, that is good. You can only parent effectively by the grace of God, so trust in him and pray for his strength.

57. Always point your children to Jesus as the source of their hope, joy, and salvation. Look for every opportunity, as you sit down and as you walk along through life, to proclaim to them the good news of his death, burial, and resurrection. Labor to help them understand their hope is not in being a good kid, but can only be found through faith in Jesus who loves them.

There was no way this list could be exhaustive, so what did I miss?

Related Posts:
The Joy and Pain of Consistent Parenting

To the Parents of Young Children

For Further Reading:
Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson

Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp

photo credit: The guys via photopin (license)

photo credit: The guys via photopin (license)

“Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.”
Proverbs 29:17

This morning I awoke at 12:30AM to the blood-curdling screams of my two-year old daughter. She wanted a new band-aid for her toe. Her screaming fit caused her one-year old brother to wake up as well. We got her back in bed and she continued to cry, and her brother did too. I had only been in bed for and hour and a half and needed to be up in four hours, yet I laid wide awake listening to my youngest two children cry on the other side of the wall. This has happened multiple times in the last few weeks. Parenting is hard.

This morning my youngest daughter came downstairs and into the dining room as I was finishing my breakfast and devotion. “Daddy, can we dye Easter eggs today?” “We dyed Easter eggs Saturday and don’t have any left. We’ll do it again next year.” “Noooooooo! I want to do it today!” “Please don’t start the day like this. Mom and Dad are tired.”

I tell these two stories from the last twelve hours of my life not to arouse your sympathies, but because I know I’m not alone in feeling too tired to be a faithful parent who lovingly teaches and correcting my children for the good of their souls. Persevering in loving, consistent, discipline and teaching is the hardest thing parents have to do. When our children disobey, either pretending like it didn’t happen or losing our temper with our kids feels like the easiest thing to do. We have homes to clean, jobs to work, projects to complete, rest to get, and unfortunately, phones to stare at. This all feel more pressing and important than consistent parenting.

Think about the words from Proverbs 29:17, “Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.” This verse holds out an important principle in parenting, if we persevere in parenting well we will reap greater benefits than if we take the easy way out of neglect or anger. “Discipline your son, and he will give you rest.” Children who are well-disciplined, as a general rule, cause less stress and heartache in the future. If we do the hard thing, we will avoid much harder things in the future.

“He will give delight to your heart.” Your initial thought may be, “don’t children always give delight to their parent’s hearts.” No, no children do not always give delight to the hearts of their parents. Sometimes our children disobey in incredibly embarrassing situations, cry in the middle of the night when we want to sleep, and display defiant attitudes when we just need them to cooperate. We get frustrated with, angry at, and weary from our children sometimes. Solomon holds out some hope here for us though. When we persevere in faithful parenting, we have a greater opportunity to enjoy our children for the blessings they truly are.

Persevere in Loving

Understanding that your child is your neighbor transforms your parenting. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” We say we love our children, but often speak to them harshly, become impatient with them, and wave off things they want to say with an astonishing callousness. We need to repent of these things and love our children as we love ourselves. We must treat them with respect and kindness, looking out for their greatest good. Our children need to know of our love for them, as it provides an incredible security for them and opens their heart to hearing what we tell them.

Persevere in Recreating

The best way to grow in loving your children is to spend time with them when there is no agenda. This happens when you turn off your phone, shut off the TV, and go for a walk, play a game, or go outside together. These are the times that your children will always remember and your heart will cherish.

I cannot emphasize the getting rid of distractions aspect of this enough. When you are halfway home with your kids and halfway in your phone or laptop, you are not fully doing anything. End your day before you come home and then be home when you are home. It will lead to a lot less frustration for you and your children.

Persevere in Teaching

Parents, you bear the primary responsibility for teaching your children life’s most important truths. You need to have a plan for teaching your children about God, sin, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, grace, ethics, and how to treat other people. This means we should have regular times where we are reading the Bible with our children. We also teach according to the pattern of Deuteronomy 6 and use every opportunity life presents to positively convey important truths to our kids. Never, ever stop teaching. It lies at the heart of our role as parents.

Persevere in Correcting

When our children disobey or mistreat other people, they must be corrected so their hearts and behavior change. We correct, not in outbursts of anger, but with kindness, patience, and firmness. In this, it must be emphasized that we correct our children for disobeying the first time they do it. We count to avoid a confrontation or overlook it because we don’t feel like dealing with it. This cannot be, as we have a divine mandate to correct our children for the good of their own souls. We must give clear instructions to our children and there must be clear and reasonable consequences for their disobedience.

Persevering in our parenting can be difficult, which is why we cannot do it alone. We need the Holy Spirit to empower us so we parent well for God’s glory. Read your Bible, pray for help, and walk in fellowship with other believers who can encourage and challenge you. The Lord has called us to do this, so he will supply the strength we need, and in the end it will be worth it.

Related Posts:
A Letter to My Son
To the Parents of Young Children

For Further Reading:
Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp
Don’t Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Hubbard

Persevere in Parenting

Photo by Rachel Morris Photography

When people ask me how old my kids are it’s fun to see the looks on their faces when I keep listing children after they think I should be done. We currently have four kids. All are under ten and two are toddlers. We’ve learned a lot about parenting through the years and keep encountering new areas where we need to grow. Below I want to share a few things I think are important for parenting your kids during their younger years. This list is not close to be exhaustive, so please feel free to add to it in the comments. (Also, there were a few things I wanted to say that Steve McCoy said much better than I could.)

Enjoy This Time

I know this is a pretty cliched thing to say, but you really do need to have fun during the times when your children are small. They do funny things, say funny things, and learn new things all the time. Play games, read books, and snuggle; you’ll treasure these for a lifetime. Every stage has joys and difficulties, but if feels like the joys of your children’s younger years are especially sweet. Enjoy them.

Prioritize Your Marriage

If you are married with children you must make your marriage a priority. You live in covenant together and have been called to love and cherish each other. If you neglect each other for the children you will start to resent each other and you will not be able to work as if you are on the same team. Get the kids in bed so you can spend time together each day and find babysitters so you can get an occasional date night you. You will experience greater joy, you will work together better as a couple and your children will experience a more joyful home.

Read the Bible to Them

Start reading the Bible with your kids when they are young. You will need to make time for this because everything in your life will conspire against it. Don’t think you will magically find the time; you must intentionally carve it out. When they are little start out with the Big Picture Story Bible or the Jesus Storybook Bible. These will take them through all of the major events in Scripture while focusing on how they point to Jesus and what he did for us. You will also find that your children will be able to start memorizing Scripture earlier than you think.

Read Other Good Books Too

Reading is a great way to spend time with your children while developing their imagination and vocabulary. Our favorite time to read with the kids is right before bed. It establishes a routine that has them sitting still and calming down. You will find they love the routine and it becomes a good indicator to them that it’s time for bed. As they get older, start reading through longer series like The Chronicles of Narnia. I doubt I’ll ever forget the reaction of my oldest daughters when they realized Aslan was alive and Mr. Tumnus was no longer a statue.

Make Family Dinner a Priority

If you asked me to close my eyes and name one item from my childhood it would not be any of my toys or gaming systems; it would be my family’s dinner table. Around that table day in and day out we talked about life, laughed, and told stories. I treasure those memories and want to create them with our kids as well. Family dinner establishes a routine, provides great time together, and ensures you will all eat healthier. When get around the table we tell funny stories, talk about what’s going on their lives, and have great conversations about all kinds of topics. In addition, cleaning up from meals teaches your kids responsibility and the importance of pitching in to help. It also provides a good time to stop and have family devotion after.

Discipline Consistently

The hardest thing parents do is to be consistent in loving discipline. By discipline I don’t just mean our children facing consequences for disobedience, but in patiently teaching them about life. Parents will be tempted to waffle back and forth between being too permissive or too strict. Sometimes we are slack and lazy in our parenting and other times we correct our children too quickly. Instead we must learn to teach and correct our children with wisdom, patience and love. This means laying down clear expectations for what they are to do, and when they are younger this means they must learn to obey the first time you tell them to do something. Also, don’t correct them harshly for making mistakes. Teach them through mistakes. Correct and discipline when they disobey.

Give Yourself Some Grace

People are great in peddling out guilt for your parenting choices and you will easily take this guilt upon yourself. Many people, including people who have never walked where you are walking will impose superficial standards by which you should evaluate yourself. Jesus frees you from unrealistic guilt and his burden is light. Love your children, teach them, play with them, and discipline them. If you need to let them watch TV so you can get a nap or get McDonalds for their dinner because you are too tired to cook everything will be okay. There’s grace for your big failures too because of Jesus’ death. Trust in his grace; you are going to need it more than you ever imagined.

Don’t Fall into the Competition Trap

If you love your children, teach them, and discipline them faithfully you are doing the most important things you can do for them. Do not fall into the trap of thinking you have to do everything for your kids the super parents are doing for theirs. You also need to brutally murder your notions that your three-year old is “falling behind” when he not doing everything other kids his age can do. Your kids don’t have to pick a specialty when they are six. You will suffocate them if you think like this.

Losing Your Temper is Sinful and Counterproductive

Parenting can be tiring and frustrating. Yes your kids are cute, but they wake up in the middle of the night. They disobey, make messes, and throw fits. You will be tempted to lose your cool. Instead, write “the anger of man will not achieve the righteousness of God” over all of your parenting. Losing your temper is a sin against the Lord and will transfer your child’s attention from their wrong behavior to your anger. It accomplishes nothing but scaring them and an unacceptable way of handling their stress and frustration. If you do lose your temper, repent to the Lord then repent your children and ask for their forgiveness. Don’t blame them for your sin. This will model the Gospel for them and serve as a great check the next time you think you might be about to lose it.

For Further Reading:
Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp
Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson

A Letter to My Son

January 4, 2016

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“We’re having a boy!” After three daughters I never thought we would utter these words. The celebration your mother and I had in in the ultrasound room confused the technician as she had no idea how excited we were to welcome a son into our home.

Lurking underneath my joy was a thought that scared me to death- you will be looking to me to figure out how to be a man. Your three sisters get to learn about being a godly woman from your mom, and they are in good hands. Unfortunately Matt, you will be looking to me and I could not feel more unqualified for this task.

When I look at your blue eyes and bright smile I see the reflection of the two greatest men I have ever known- your grandfathers. Your Pa Eddie tried to teach me how to be a man as I was growing up. He attempted to teach me the important things in life- how to fear God, walk in integrity, and treat others with respect. He also showed me skills he knew I would need like how to work on a car, save money, and perform routine household maintenance. Instead of listening to him, I reacted with arrogance, impatience, and anger. Almost everyday I wish I could talk to that fourteen-year-old boy and tell him that his future self needs him to listen to his father with humility, patience, and eagerness. I would tell him that twenty-five years from now he would crawl across a desert to have the opportunity this impatient punk was squandering.

The reality of my foolishness came crashing down on me at last in my early twenties. I sat in my apartment in Louisville frustrated, angry, and confused as I wrestled with a problem. (Thankfully the years have helped me forget what the exact problem was.) As I thought, vented, and prayed I came to the realization that going my own way and not following the path my father pointed out for me had devastating consequences. I grabbed the phone and called him, hoping he would be home. He was, and he got treated to a speech he must have enjoyed hearing. “Dad, what I am about to tell you I know you know already. I want you to know that I know it now. You are smarter than me and I regret not listening to you.”

Son, the foolishness of your father’s youth holds one of the most important lessons you will learn in your life- you must have the humility to admit you don’t know everything, and you need wisdom that comes from beyond yourself. For most of the last decade I have kept my nose in the book of Proverbs. The short, memorable statements in Solomon’s instruction to his son give great instruction in many areas of godly living. Too often though we miss the first nine chapters of Proverbs. Solomon pleads with his son to choose the way of wisdom before he shows him how to live wisely. He wants to show the way of wisdom and the way of folly so his son can see clearly the character and destination of each path.

In 3:5-8 Solomon says to his son, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.” Two times in these four verses Solomon entreats his son to avoid the foolishness which comes from arrogance. “Do not lead on your own understanding.” “Be not wise in your own eyes.” These two short commands constitute a call from a father to his son, calling him to abandon the foolish idea he has nothing to learn and no one to whom he needs to listen.

Solomon’s main idea in these verses is to help his son understand that the first step to being a wise man is acknowledging your own lack of wisdom. Notice the necessity Solomon feels to tell his son to trust in the Lord instead of leaning on his own understanding. After this he instructs him to fear the Lord and reminds him not to be wise in his own eyes. Solomon’s warning to his son serves as an important reminder that the greatest barrier between you, your God, and a life of wisdom and joy will be your own pride.

Even in your early years people will tell you to follow your heart and be true to yourself. Ignore the foolishness of these well-meaning, but ridiculous platitudes and listen to the wisdom of the Lord. Humble yourself before him, disavowing every notion that you can figure life out on your own. Fear the Lord, trust in his grace, sit at his feet to learn his word, and listen to the men around you. Solomon said this will give, “healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.” Genuine wisdom leads to great joy. I pray you get to experience it to the fullest by shunning the foolishness that comes from youthful arrogance.

Related Posts:
‘You’re Going to Be Broke:’ Some Thoughts on Having Three Daughters

For Further Reading:
A Proverbs Driven Life by Anthony Selvaggio
Hear, My Son by Daniel Estes