Calling All Parents! – A Look at Christian Parenting
Thad Jahns, M.S.
Certain moments in life profoundly change us. Such moments redefine who we are and why we exist. For me, one such instance began on a warm, sunny day in July of 1994. That was the day that God alerted me to my special calling in life. God didnt speak to me through a burning bush or strike me down on the way to work that day. No tongues of fire, no oil anointing my head, not even so much as a gentle whisper. Yet I knew that God was calling me to a very important task – a task that in many ways is no less important than the work faithfully carried out by the great men and women of God in the Bible.
As I stood in a hospital delivery room that evening, watching my wife lovingly wrap her arms around the small child she had carried for the past nine months, I couldnt help but feel a little sick to my stomach. Dont get me wrong. I was the excited and proud new daddy of a beautiful baby body. I was thankful that God had guided my wife through the agony of labor and had given us this unbelievable gift. Yet, as the days events replayed like a tape in my head, the full impact of my new responsibility hit me. God was entrusting to me the task of taking care of this new life. I would now be responsible for making sure this child had everything needed for a healthy and fulfilling existence. Even more importantly, I was responsible for the spiritual welfare of this young soul! I was feeling the pressure. I was the man. Gods Go-To-Guy. Like Moses (minus the flaming, talking vegetation), God was, in a very real way, calling me to lead my own little flock to the Promised Land.
“Who Am I?”
Have you ever noticed that God never spares us the dirty details when it comes to stories in the Bible? We dont get the sanitized version of the story to protect the not-so-innocent. Rather, we often see these real-life characters for why they were – very ordinary people with extra-ordinary calls to do great things for God. Think about it! Peter appears to have spent much of his life with a foot inserted in his mouth. Paul spent many of his early years making sport of terrorizing early followers of Jesus. Even Moses, when called to God to deliver his people from Egypt, was full of questions, Who am I to do this job? Certainly, you could find someone much more qualified than me. Someone whose resume includes at least a few years of formal leadership experience, maybe some skills in conflict resolution. Moses was hanging out with sheep, running from a past he couldnt quite shake.
By all human standards, he certainly didnt seem to be the man for the job. But God had other plans. In fact God is in the business of making faithful “heroes” out of seemingly worthless “zeroes.”
Perhaps you have asked similar questions in your life: “Why me? Who am I to be called to shepherd my children? Isn’t there someone — anyone — who could do this job better than me?” Scripture clearly teaches that it is a parents responsibility, a unique calling, to “train up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6). Yet our sinful nature questions, redirecting us to ourselves and all of our weaknesses. Then the excuses start: Are you talking to me? I dont know if I can do this. Isnt that what we pay pastors to do? I dont have the Bible background to speak intelligently with my children about Jesus. But God keeps calling your name, letting you know that the Great Commission, making disciples of all nations, needs to begin within the four walls of your own home before it can be taken to the four corners of the earth.
We often fail to recognize what Scripture clearly states and what studies continually affirm — that parents have a greater impact on their childs spiritual development than any other human being. No teacher, no pastor, no classmate or friend can replicate the relationship you have with your child or the opportunities for faith-nurturing available in the day-to-day life in the home. Yet, most of us fall into the trap of compartmentalizing our lives into the sacred and the secular. We reserve the sacred stuff for an hour or two on Sunday morning, maybe even say an occasional prayer before a meal or when we go to bed, then shed our Christian garb as we head out the door to work or school. What a waste! Life is full of teachable moments. Every day is full of changes to share Jesus with your child. And when you rightly view your entire life as an opportunity to live out your unique calling, God continues to provide endless opportunities to intricately weave your faith into every situation.
“I Will Be with You”
God always seems to know just the right thing to say. After all, he is God. And when the Master of the universe makes a promise, you can take it to the bank. Moses, stuttering and stammering and desperately searching for a way out of God’s plan, is offered reassurance with five simple, life-changing words: “I will be with you.” When you find yourself doubting your qualifications, balking at God’s call to parenthood, when youre overwhelmed by the demands of selfish kids and a life that is spinning out of control, God shares the same words with you: “I will be with you. You don’t need to go it alone. Ill give you what you need and never leave you hanging. Trust me on this.”
As a parent, you know that no calling in your life will be more challenging than that of raising a child to know and love Jesus. There are days when you will wonder if it is all worth it or if God is really true to His word. Yet, by God’s grace, you also recognize that few others calls have such potential to impact future generations for Christ. And no other call can provide as much joy.
For almost ten years my wife and I have been leading our growing clan through the “wilderness” of this life. Like you, there are days when we find ourselves lost in the vast desert of frustration, doubt and self-reliance. But every day I awake to three little reminders of why I am here and what God would have me do in this life. And in the eyes of my boys I occasionally catch a glimpse of the Promised Land.
Thad Jahns, M.S., has served as a career counselor and marriage and family therapist. Thad and his wife, Ann, are parents of three energetic boys.
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