How to Win the Parenting Race
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize (1 Corinthians 9:24).
I am the mother of two awesome children, a 13-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter. I have many goals and dreams for them. I want them to be healthy, happy and successful. The world is full of exciting opportunities and adventures for them to experience. But, as someone who has experienced the love of Jesus personally, the thing I want most for my children is for them to love and follow Jesus.
My job outside the home is teaching parents. The most sought after advice year after year is how to discipline their children. Discipline is key to great parenting, but even more important is disciplining ourselves.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 says this:
"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."
If parenting is a race and the finish line is children who love and follow Jesus, we must discipline ourselves in three ways to show our children the blessing of a relationship with Jesus.
1. Point your child to Jesus by developing a personal relationship with Him.
We can’t show our children how to have something we don’t have. I have never been water skiing. Really, I have no interest in it. My children have never shown an interest in it either; they’ve never been exposed to it. I couldn’t show them how to water ski if I tried. The same is true spiritually. Without exposure to someone following Jesus, our children are unlikely to seek a relationship with Him.
As parents we get to be one our children’s primary examples of what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus. The first step is to ask Jesus into our lives and commit to following His leadership. But even after that, we need to discipline ourselves each day to spend time with Jesus, worship Him and thank Him.
Schedules are busy and sometimes we push time with God to the end, or off, of our to-do list. Our children will follow our example. Matthew 6:31-33 reminds parents not to get tied up in daily concerns and responsibilities: “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For...your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."
2. Point your child to Jesus by loving as Jesus loves.
In John 13:34-35, Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Over and over, we see Jesus loving the hurt and rejected. Once we’ve experienced Jesus’ love, we have the ability to show that same love to other people. But like other areas of our spiritual lives, loving people well requires discipline. When I’m in a hurry, I don’t always want to let the lady with two items check out ahead of me and my 50 items. But what shows my children the love of Jesus? Thinking of someone else above myself. What do I do for other people? What do I involve my children in doing for other people? It takes discipline to put myself aside when Jesus asks me to serve someone else.
We must not forget to show love to our children, too. Yes, most parents love their kids. But are we showing them how much we love them by controlling our words and temper? Are we spending time making memories with them? How are we serving our children?
3. Point your child to Jesus by teaching him truth.
If there is a decision my child has to make, I should point him to what God says in the Bible. When media, friends or family live a lifestyle not pleasing to God, we must teach our children God’s Word, not in condemnation of the other person but, “speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” (Ephesians 4:15).
When my son was six he took a $20 bill from a friend’s room. After he told me what he did, I took him to the house and had him give the money back. I was embarrassed, and he was pitiful and sorry, but we did what God wanted us to do.
Surrounding our children with other people who love Jesus is also important. We need the support of others as we teach truth to our children. The Bible addresses this need in Hebrews 10:24-25 saying, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another...” Being disciplined about taking our children to church is another way we point them to Jesus.
Parenting is one of the hardest races you will ever run. Discipline yourself to develop your relationship with Jesus, to love like Jesus loves and to surround your child with the truth of the Bible. Keep the finish line in sight and keep your eyes on Jesus, who has shown you the way to win the parenting race.
Written by Crystal Cox
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