The Parenting Task

The Parenting Task

This article is an excerpt from the book Reaching Your Child's Heart by Juan and Jeanine Sanchez. David and Sally Michael wrote the following recommendation for the book:

"Juan and Jeanine outline a biblical and theological framework of practical, gospel-oriented principles for parenting. Each chapter is followed by helpful discussion questions, giving an interactive opportunity for parents to assess and apply these biblical principles in their own families. We highly recommend Reaching Your Child’s Heart as a very accessible, practical, biblically sound framework for parenting.” 

The publisher is offering our readers Reaching Your Child's Heart for 40% off retail price through May 31st when you use the coupon code TRUTH78. 

God is producing godly offspring through the proclamation of the gospel and the regenerating work of the Spirit. Our task as parents, then, is to raise our children in a context where they are regularly exposed to the truth of the gospel by our lives and our words. As parents, we pray that the Holy Spirit will use what we’ve taught our children to draw them to Jesus. We are God’s instruments through whom he is reaching their hearts to draw them to his Son. This is the most important job we have. We plant the seed of the gospel. We water it. God gives it life and causes it to grow.

Mom and Dad, these glorious truths of the gospel must first be in our hearts before we can pass them on to our children. All who are in Christ are no longer sinners by nature, but we still battle with sin. As we grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, we are to let go of old ways of thinking and renew our minds with the gospel. We must constantly battle against our sin, knowing that we are forgiven, justified by grace through faith, and empowered by the Spirit to obey. The process of being conformed to the image of Christ is a lifelong work of God in our lives. We are not perfect, but we are being perfected. And that perfecting work of God in our lives will last our entire lives. Understanding this lifelong work should not only guide and inform our Christian life, but it should also guide and inform our parenting. It should lead us to parent by faith, with patient endurance, knowing only God can save our children, and trusting that he will one day complete the work he has begun in his children (Philippians 1:6).

Dads, let me (Juan) speak to you directly. As a result of the fall, we are prone either to passivity or control. Because of our fears and doubts, we will likely vacillate between the two. Take me, for example. For the first six years of our marriage, I was a passive husband. It wasn’t intentional. I was busy with work and ministry and let Jeanine handle things at home until the Lord convicted me. Jeanine was gracious and patient with me, giving me room to fail as I took on more responsibilities at home. At other times, due to my military background, I ran our house like a boot camp. Again, Jeanine was gracious, helping me build relationships with the girls. Brothers, are you leading in your home according to God’s design? Have you abdicated your leadership responsibilities, or are you vying for control? Know that our Lord is full of mercy and grace. Bring your sins, failures, and deficiencies to him, and he will forgive you. Then sit down with your wife and ask her for help (do this when you are not in conflict). 

Moms, God created you to be your husband’s partner—to help him in all things. We do need the help! I’ve spoken with enough men who, like me, recognized their failures at home and wanted to change, but who have concluded that no matter how hard they tried, it would never be good enough. So help your husband. Be hopeful for him. Build him up. Encourage the good things he does. Help him see his weaknesses. Together, seek an older couple to guide you. Talk to your pastors. You don’t have to parent alone.

A word to single parents: whether you find yourself single by choice or by circumstance, you don’t have to parent alone either. Because Jesus has established a new covenant by which he is gathering a new family by faith in him, this new everlasting family is not produced biologically (John 1:12–13). In Christ, we are brothers and sisters. And in the church, we have spiritual fathers, mothers, and grandparents. God has given you his Son, his Spirit, his Word, and his people to help you raise your children. So, allow other families in your church to envelop you and your children into their lives. Seek out older, wiser parents you admire. Learn from parents who are a stage or two in front of you. Ask for help from your pastors. Don’t go at it alone.

Parenting is hard! It exposes our sins and weaknesses. Thankfully, God is forgiving, and he has made us to complement each other. We all want to be faithful parents. We all want our families to flourish. So, let us encourage you to work together. Bear one another’s burdens. Overlook small offenses. Forgive one another. Encourage one another. Be patient with one another. Pray for one another. Love one another. Honor one another. And speak words to one another that build up. 

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