We’re continuing our Wednesday explorations of bringing Jesus further into our deepest relationships, and this week we focus on our relationships with our children. For some of us, these might be the deepest relationships we have.
But unlike our relationships with our spouses and our friends, this role carries a much broader set of responsibilities. We have to do more than love our children—we’re charged with raising them. To teach them. To discipline them. To model Jesus to them. To use just a couple modest examples:
• What’s one phrase or habit that always reminds you of your mother or father?
• How have your tried to emulate or avoid your parents’ behaviors in your own life?
Let’s face it, this responsibility can be both scary and overwhelming. But as we let Jesus work through our relationships with our children, He can accomplish far more than we’d hoped—and the results might look very different from what we had in mind.
Not all of you have children, but we still need to learn to love those closest to us the way Jesus loves them and help them to grow the way Jesus wants them to grow. You may well be in a relationship where you can help another person do that—where you’re a spiritual parent. So stay with me; there may be something here for you, too.
And with that, let’s looks at a general example that can work wherever we’re at:
“[A]lthough we could have imposed our weight as apostles of Christ; instead we became little children among you. Like a nursing mother caring for her own children, with such affection for you we were happy to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. For you recall, brothers and sisters, our toil and drudgery: By working night and day so as not to impose a burden on any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and so is God, as to how holy and righteous and blameless our conduct was toward you who believe. As you know, we treated each one of you as a father treats his own children, exhorting and encouraging you and insisting that you live in a way worthy of God who calls you to his own kingdom and his glory. And so we too constantly thank God that when you received God’s message that you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human message, but as it truly is, God’s message, which is at work among you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:7-13, NET)
How does Paul describe his behavior toward the Thessalonians? What did he model for them? How do you see that model being passed on to others here?
Likewise, what are some positive traits that your parents, or other adults, have modeled for you? How has that modeling affected your walk with Jesus? How have you been able to pass those traits on to others?
Now, let’s get a little more parent-specific. There’s a great scene in the animated movie The Incredibles, about a family (re-)discovering and learning to use their superpowers for good. In fact, you can watch it here.
• Think about the quote “Your identity is your most valuable possession.” In what ways do you think that’s true (or not)?
• How do you see Violet’s identity change during the course of this scene? What things enabled or forced her to change?
• What character traits do you believe you model well for your children? Which traits does your spouse or others model that you wish you shared?
Every child, regardless of age, is a promise from God—and God wants to fulfill His promise in each of our children’s lives. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in a given situation with our children—or so wrapped up in ourselves—that we forget that. So let’s slow down for a moment.
What’s one area in which you know you could honor your children more? Maybe it’s quality time; maybe it’s any amount of time at all; maybe you need to ask your child’s forgiveness for something and let God’s grace work through that process.
Silently reflect on that now, and begin handing it over to God. Pray something like this, and I will at this end, too:
Lord, we want our children to become the people You want them to be. Help us to release them into Your hands so You can do what You want to do. And use us to reveal Yourself to them. We also thank You for all the ways You ’ve used us to speak into our kids’ lives, even when we weren’t aware of it.
At the same time, we acknowledge that we’ve failed sometimes—probably lots of times—and we ask that You help us become better parents. Right now we confess our need for You in…[say whatever’s appropriate here].
We know You honor our prayers, and we ask for Your Spirit to work through us to become the parents You want us to be, even as You help our kids become the people You want them to be. In Jesus’ name, amen.