How to Live on the Family Rewarded Cycle
Parenting isn’t about our kids.
I know! Crazy, right?
Yes, we are responsible for our children until they leave home, but long before that we realize we cannot control their thoughts and actions.
Gaining more influence
We can demand that our children say “thank you” but we cannot coerce them to feel grateful in their hearts. We can take them to church but we cannot force them to worship authentically. We can instruct them on right and wrong but cannot create a teachable heart inside of them.
And perhaps most difficult of all, we cannot choose their faith and values. They must choose these for themselves.
What we can control is our actions and reactions to our kids. And as we control ourselves, we create the most loving environment which best motivates our kids to choose our faith and values.
The good news is that we do not lose influence but gain more influence!
Being who God wants me to be.
Parenting is about being who God is asking me to be…. Whether in marriage or parenting.
And the exciting thing is that as I seek to be the parent God wants me to be, doing it His way, I will be rewarded even if my children do not obey or turn out like I had hoped.
This is ultimately about my obedience and not theirs, which is what the Rewarded Cycle is all about.
As parents, we determine that our kids cannot cause us to react in unloving ways. When we determine to parent this way, God notices and rewards our unconditional love.
This is why it is so important that our parenting should be more unto the Lord than unto our kids. In the words of Jesus, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to . . . even the least of them, you did it to me.
And as Paul put it in Ephesians 6:7–8: “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does” (NIV).
I recall so well when that verse became a lifeline for me. I don’t know if I was exhausted from repeatedly telling them to make their beds, clean their rooms or whatever. But I distinctly remember thinking that this was about me doing this for the Lord.
What do I want my kids to remember?
As I picked up the mess for the millionth time, I thought, “What do I want them to remember? That I was always complaining about their room or that I served them at different times?”
I tried to choose the latter as often as possible. I wanted to be an example of serving so that one day my children would choose to serve and do it with a happy heart.
It was my way of showing them unconditional love at a moment when I was frustrated. And in that I felt God’s pleasure.
This is about me.
This is not about being a slave to our kids or giving in to their laziness. Hopefully we can discern when to “give” or “not give in.” Ultimately it is about my loving attitude either way.
Encouragingly, Paul was saying that whatever we do as to the Lord we will receive back from Him and that certainly includes parenting (which he addressed a few verses earlier in Ephesians 6:4).
Everything you do as a mom or dad counts, even if your child ignores you after the third warning. This is what the Family Rewarded Cycle is all about. Yes, you need to discipline your child. This is never about letting your child take over as parent! But most of all this is about the Lord who stands beyond the shoulder of your child watching your actions and reactions.
God cares! About everything!
Parents who feel discouraged can suddenly catch the truth that what they do matters to God; nothing is wasted.
Putting on a loving attitude while disciplining a disrespectful child is not only possible – it counts to God even if the child refuses to appreciate the love or discipline. He rewards parents who parent His way.
What are the rewards?
We get some of them on earth, but we get an incredible reward in heaven. Jesus wants to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:23, NIV).
What would some of those “few things” be? Surely they include what Paul described as God’s call to parents, which come under the acronym G-U-I-D-E-S which I mentioned in the Energizing Cycle.
When you make a decision to parent God’s way, the dividends are without end. Do a few things on earth in this life and get many things forever in heaven.
That’s a deal none of us should pass up!
“Well done, good and faithful servant.”
As Christ-following parents we have the privilege of living with the end in mind, which is doing Christ’s will and hearing Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
For this reason, parenting is a tool and test to deepen and demonstrate our love, reverence, trust, and obedience toward Jesus Christ.
But how do we stand the test? How does all this work in the daily battle?
Questions for reflection:
- Are you willing to say, “It’s all about me doing what God is asking me to do?”
- Do you really believe He rewards every good thing each one of us does whether in parenting or marriage?
I love knowing nothing is wasted and that God loves to reward whatever I do “unto Him.”
That makes it all worth it!
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