A recent sermon was inspiring to me, so I thought I would share a few notes, before I forget entirely. Because you know I'll forget justlikethat, as usual:-D
The premise of the message was actually about Paul, and Pastors, (taken from Gal 4:8-20), but as soon as I heard the message title it really struck me how much this would really apply to parenting - a great philosophy in raising children. So I take my notes slightly out of context of the message to apply them to parenting, instead of the pastor/shepherd role - which is, really, kind of what we are as parents, especially to young children.
Title: Pastoral Goal (in this case Parenting Goal) - To see Christ fully formed in you.
If there was one thing that could encapsulate the life that we wish for our children to lead, wouldn't that be it? "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth" 3 John 1:4 ESV
A couple notes I jotted down about the "how" - How we can influence those under our care (whether you are a pastor, or a parent) to follow hard after Jesus. We are not imitating His life, we are participating in it, and there is quite a bit more joy to be found in the latter than in the former.
1. Preaching/teaching of Jesus is clear
- theology matters. What I believe is crucial.
It is important that people have a right view of the God they serve, and big people start out as little people. It's a tall order to stand in that place for kids - but as parents, it IS where we stand, like it or not.
2. Patterns of the Spirit are developed and patterns of flesh are crumbling
-theology is meaningless unless applied
Giving our kids, once saved, ultimately room to fail and grow, as the old things fall away. Learning things just gives knowledge, it doesn't give Jesus. Teach them the difference between what's in your head and what's in your heart.
3. Pursuing each other in humility
-members honestly evaluate others and self
Well, this is good for everyone in life, but is probably fairly vital and essential to a healthy family unit, with regards to the relationship from child to parent. How healthy and real for kids to see that their parents are also still on the journey of being fully formed, in Christ. There is such room and necessity for humility and forgiveness. We all will fail, and we all will gain victory, and we can each be accountable to the other, for support in good times or bad. Putting on the front of perfection, or of 'being above' this or that is so counter productive. We want our kids to see struggle, failure, mess, and on the flip side, victory in Him. We want to be the example of a devoted, yet flawed, person that meets Jesus, every day.
4. Persevering in the faith
-you are happy to bear the marks of Jesus
This is a hard one - faith not being marked by what you got, but how long you waited. It's a rich faith, like the faith of Abraham to wait for things you will never see in your lifetime. Waiting on the Lord is hard, and you will bear marks as you go - the marks along the way that show you Jesus. But oftentimes these marks are not at all pleasant to us on the earthly, fleshly side.
"Before God has ever used a man significantly, He hurts him deeply" (Pastor Daniel actually opened the entire sermon with this quote but did not give the source, just saying "someone once said". A google search attributes something similar -not exact- to AW Tozer). As a side note, I would sort of dispute the wording of this quote, while I can appreciate the sentiment, it doesn't sit well with me, as it was quoted.
Alternately, my own version would be: God allows what He could prevent, so that you can meet Jesus there. So that you can see that grace abounds, and that He is sufficient.
So back to the point - whether the original quote or my own, the idea behind it is suffering. And suffering is pretty awful. Especially when you can't see the end goal. When you put suffering in the light of "to see Christ fully formed in you" - well then, it's sits with us a little differently, doesn't it? Wouldn't it then make you proud to bear that mark?
As it pertains to parenting - when I look around the world, everywhere I see brokenness. Infertility, broken marriages, death, struggling to make ends meet, the list goes on and on, and none of it would you wish on your worst enemy. And yet it happens, and daily, to wonderful people. And what I would not do to spare my own children some of that suffering, if I could. But would I be interfering with something the Lord is doing? If I want to see my kids come to be fully formed in Christ...would I really take away their pain?
I'm sure I'd want to. But that is only because I can't see the greatness of what will come next. The wonderful things that would come from a heart completely sold out for the Lord. The beauty that rises from the ashes. It's not beauty that can be created by anything but Him. I don't pray for them to be undone or destroyed. But only that they would be given enough suffering to have them be fully formed, in Him.
It's something in parenting I can only try to equip them to handle, and really - not much else. That is a scary aspect of parenting, isn't it? I mean, it's scary because it's not about me, and it's not in my control. Only God know the plans He has for my kids, and while parenting, equipping and watching...I have to make sure I get out of the way too:-)
Anyway, a few rambling thoughts I wanted to get out while they are still formed in my brain. Have a blessed day, all.