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Sunday Worship: 10:30a | Sunday Schools: 9:30a

Making Much of Jesus in our Parenting

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This past week, a friend and faithful and experienced Pastor texted me after he went to Tim Keller’s memorial service. He said this, “My biggest takeaways from being at Tim Keller’s memorial service yesterday? It’s impossible to make too much of Jesus. Jesus isn’t to be balanced out or fit into anything. We’re capable of being obnoxious Christians, but we’ll never over-adore, over-love, or over-serve Jesus.”

I love his words. “It’s impossible to make too much of Jesus.” As parents who are followers of Jesus, what do we make much of? We make much of getting our children to obey, to succeed, to prevent them from experiencing pain, suffering, or failure. We make much of getting things done around the house or at work. We make much of trying to achieve comfort and ease. We make much of worrying about what tomorrow may bring. We make much of acting like we have it all together and don’t need any help, or putting on the facade that we’re really ok, when we know we are struggling, discouraged, and fearful. We make much of trying to get our kids to behave and look good because we personalize their failures, shortcomings, and sinful actions as reflections on us. We make much of prioritizing outward appearances rather than pursuing and shaping our children’s hearts.

Please don’t hear what I’m not saying. Having our children obey is a good thing. Doing good work in the home and at work are good things. Enjoying times of comfort should be celebrated. I’m not trying to heap on the guilt and shame that we all so readily have available to us. But what would it look like for us as parents to make much of Jesus? Remember, we can’t make too much of Jesus.
We often relegate Jesus to Sunday mornings, our quiet time, and maybe another time or two during the week. But what about after a long day at work or of being home with the kids? What about when you’ve spent 2 hours in car line? What about when you don’t want to cook dinner or clean up the dishes? What about when you’re tired and your kid needs help with their homework? What about when your kids have broken the unspoken agreement that “there will be no parenting after 9PM” and you have to respond to a tired and grumpy child, a fight or argument, or another drink of water?

My tendency is to make much of me in those moments. And my kids know it. My comfort and “deserved” rest is being violated. My desires for control, respect, and quiet are being threatened. I forget Paul Tripp’s advice to see disruptions, sinful behaviors, frustrations, not as interruptions, but as opportunities to show the love and grace of Jesus to children; as opportunities to show them and teach them about the existence and character of the God who made them and loves them, who made and loves me (!), and who called me to be their parent so they might know Him.

What if I made much of Jesus, not just on Sundays, but all day, every day? What if I was constantly rehearsing the truth of the gospel that Jesus came and lived and died and took my penalty for my sins on the cross, and he defeated my sin (ALL sin) and death there, and there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1)? What if I began to to trust that God actually loves me and sees Jesus when he looks at me? What if I began to believe and live out of Galatians 2:20, that “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me”? What if the love and grace God has shown me as a sinner saved by grace and not by my own works informed the way I love, listen to, and parent my children?

Parenting is a full contact sport. All of our baggage, our feelings, our insecurities, our shame, our fears come out in difficult moments. That’s why it’s crucial for us to remember who we are in Jesus and whose we are! We are not our own, we are the dearly loved children of the God of the Universe, those in whom He delights. We have been called by God to partner with Him in pursuing the hearts of our children, in reflecting the love of God we’ve received by Him back to them, and in mirroring God’s kindness that leads to repentance. It’s not our job to be the Holy Spirit for ourselves or our children. But we get to make much of Jesus with them. Remember we can never over-adore, over-love, or over-serve Jesus.

How can we make much of Jesus this week with our kids, especially when they are tired, frustrated, hurting, discouraged, angry, and disobedient? Jesus is gracious with us when we don’t measure up and continues to pour his grace out into our lives. Because that’s true, we can enter into those moments of disruption and see them as moments of opportunity to show God’s love and grace to our children.

A couple ideas to consider:

  1. Spend some moments every day to remember who God is (Ex. 34:5-7) and who He says you are now because of Jesus’ sacrifice for you (Gal. 2:20, Hebrews 10:10,14, Titus 3:3-8). Preach the gospel to yourself every day.
  2. This week, when things are tough, when your kids are reminding you that they need grace, and you’re discouraged, pray for the Spirit to be at work reminding you of His love for you and your child, and let His grace for you shape your response to your children in your parenting.
  3. Be ready to fail and ask for forgiveness, and remind yourself you need to rely on God’s grace moment by moment.