Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Highest Calling of Parenthood

In Colin S. Smith’s book The 10 Greatest Struggles of Your Life, he goes through the 10 Commandments and shows how each one is representative of some of the greatest struggles in our lives. Here are the chapter titles:

  1. You shall have no other gods before Me. (Your Struggle with God)

  2. You shall not make for yourself an idol. (Your Struggle with Worship)

  3. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God. (Your Struggle with Religion)

  4. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. (Your Struggle with Time)

  5. Honor your father and your mother. (Your Struggle with Authority)

  6. You shall not murder. (Your Struggle for Peace)

  7. You shall not commit adultery. (Your Struggle for Purity)

  8. You shall not steal. (Your Struggle for Integrity)

  9. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. (Your Struggle with Truth)

  10. You shall not covet. (Your Struggle for Contentment)

Yesterday I read about commandment #5. In this chapter, Smith talks about how our relationship with our parents shapes how we respond to ALL authority (God, employers, church leadership, etc.). For example, if your parents brought disappointment and pain into your life, your first instinct may be to distrust all authority figures, including God, assuming that they too will bring disappointment and pain. He goes on to talk about what it means to honor your parents and then he turns a corner and talks about being a parent worthy of honor. That’s where it started getting really convicting for me. He says:

The Bible tells us that God is our Father and that all fatherhood comes from Him (Eph. 3:14-15). Becoming a father or a mother means representing God in the life of your child. Think of all the ways in which you stand in the place of God for your child. You are the child’s guardian, provider, shepherd, intercessor, teacher, and example. What your child experiences from you will shape that child’s impressions of God. Your calling is to give them a good reflection of the image of God. That is the highest calling of parenthood. It’s also the greatest challenge.

This isn’t really new information. This entire blog is modeled around the idea of reflecting the image of God in our everyday lives. Somehow, though, looking at it in this light added a weight to it. From a parenting standpoint, how I relate to my children will give them the model of authority that will influence how they view God (and all authority figures). For example, if I let them know I will never stop loving them, that properly reflects the character of God and they will understand that God loves them unconditionally. But if I go so far as to ignore sin issues in their lives and shield them from the consequences, that misrepresents God and they may expect God to overlook those issues as well. What a weighty responsibility!

I am thankful to be reminded anew that my parenting (and my entire life) is to be a reflection of the image of God, not just to point my children to Him, but everyone I meet.

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