Fulfilling the enormous task of parenting takes training
7 MINUTE READ
A few months ago, a friend and I remarked on the countless hours, days, months and indeed, years that are spent training for our profession. All the training preparation was done in the hope that we would be competent and well-equipped for our role as doctor, dentist, or veterinarian, etc. If only the same could be said for preparing us for our role as parents.
Ironically, we are often poorly equipped and inadequately trained for the enormous task of parenting, a task of immeasurable value and eternal significance.
So, if you are reading this article, thank you. I am so thankful that you want to equip yourself in this work. I pray that what I write will encourage you to keep growing in your role as a parent, and that by God’s grace, He keeps transforming you and your kids in this sanctifying journey.
1. Our children are a gift, not a right
We are God’s stewards. Our children are God’s, not ours. None of us “deserves” to be parents. We have been given this privilege and blessing by God. It is not an accident. In a world that sees children as optional extras and sometimes hindrances to what we really want to achieve in life, do we see our children as God’s precious gifts? How are we nurturing and growing them for God and his purposes, and not for our own desires, goals and dreams?
“Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them” (Psalm 127:3-5a).
2. Guard your own heart. Then, you can teach your children to guard theirs
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
… Impress them on your children…
… be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. Fear the Lord your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5, 7, 12-14).
Teach the children to love the Lord, otherwise they will forget who their God is. Have we forgotten who our God is?
What does your calendar look like? Is it filled with children’s sports, school commitments, music exams, birthday parties, or language classes? Or perhaps it’s packed by your shift work, conferences, submission deadlines, or personal hobbies? These things can so easily fill our schedules, bury our family life, and cloud our hearts. “When you are full, do not forget God,” Moses warns the Israelites and rightly, warns us too.
How are we going at balancing life? Do we put God as our priority in our personal and family life? Do personal and family devotions, meeting with God’s people, and hearing God’s word feature as “non-negotiables” in our week? Or do we choose to let the many distractions fill our lives? Is busyness robbing us of beholding the true and living God and worshipping Him only?
Teaching our children to love God starts with us. It starts with our choices and decisions to put God first in our life. Our children are watching us. Do our children see that we love God? Or has our love for God been clouded by the idols and distractions of our life?
3. Be present for your kids
“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates”(Deuteronomy 6:6-9).
When I started having children, I looked up what was the minimum hours of medical work I needed to maintain registration. Is this how we sometimes feel about parenting? Our line of work often calls us to make costly sacrifices for the sake of our patients, on-calls, night shifts, exams and further studies. Ironically, does this leave us with the mentality of “minimum hours” in our work as parents?
We need to remember our calling as parents. If we have been gifted with children, then they are our primary responsibility. Do we seek to maximise our time with them so we can learn more about them, communicate with them better, and develop rich, meaningful relationships with them? Our kids deserve more than minimum hours. Parenting is not something we should outsource. Our patients will always have another doctor, our team another member, our workplace another employee, but our kids will only have one mother and one father.
Don’t miss out on precious times with your kids. Teaching them to love God must not happen between 5pm-7pm only, when we finish our “day jobs”. It should be ALL of life. Every day and every moment. Our kids watch what brings us joy and what makes us cry. So much of the Christian life is “caught”, not taught. So, what are our kids catching from us? What are your kids catching from you?
4. Stop trying harder. Confess your sins and depend on Jesus
Many of us have worked hard to achieve what we have. Our conscientious work ethic and relentless pursuit of excellence are a part of who we are. We may say we believe in grace but deep down do we truly believe it personally?
Maybe we are trying so hard to be good parents who don’t mess up. Perhaps we forget that what they need most are not perfect parents but parents who show them the real need for grace. Parents who show weakness, display flaws and simply call out for help. I know I find that really hard to do.
We need to stop feeling like we just need to “do better” and start falling on our knees simply for Jesus. Let us come to the cross and know that “nothing in my hands I bring, simply to your cross I cling”.1
I asked myself, and I want to ask you, do you confess your sins with your children? Do you ask them to pray for you? Do they see you depending on Jesus for forgiveness? Do they see you relying on the power of the Spirit to transform you?
5. Help them long for heaven
Medical advances have been a huge source of help and hope for many. They have brought immense improvements to the quality and quantity of people’s lives. But surrounded by sick and failing bodies, we should be confronted daily with reminders that we are living in a broken world. No amount of modern medicine and dentistry can change the fact that our patients will face death. Every medication prescribed, every dental cavity filled, does not change that our patients will one day confront their maker and judge.
Do the daily reminders of sickness and suffering make us long for our eternal home heaven? Do we pray for hearts to be softened and souls to be saved? Do we pray with our children for their friends and loved ones to know Jesus? Do we help our kids long for heaven where there is no more suffering, sadness and pain?
“Will we carefully consider how to teach, disciple and train them to know their God?”
As parents, we are given a huge privilege and responsibility in this season of life to be shepherds and ambassadors of God to our children. Will we carefully consider how to teach, disciple and train them to know their God?
Again I asked myself and I want to ask you, will you fall on your knees to God, knowing that he will give you the strength and wisdom for this task, and that forgiveness is yours when you mess up?
It is a tiring and costly investment, but as Australian songwriter, Colin Buchanan, helpfully put it “the greatest treasure in the whole wide world is… peace with God”.2
Dr Li Qing Wong Dr Li Qing Wong came from Singapore to New South Wales as an international student. Whilst aiming to get a medical degree, God challenged her to seek God’s kingdom first. She married Iggy 1 week after graduation. They moved to Brisbane in 2017, where she enjoys being busy at home with her 4 kids and serving alongside Iggy at Coopers Plains Evangelical Church. She does casual work in surgical assisting and as a RMO at the private hospital.
- Toplady AM. Rock of Ages, Cleft for me. [Song] Psalms and Hymns for Public and Private Worship. 1740-1778. Available from: https://hymnary.org/text/rock_of_ages_cleft_for_me_let_me_hide
- Buchanan C. The greatest treasure. [Song] Practise being godly. 1997. Available from: https://genius.com/Colin-buchanan-the-greatest-treasure-lyrics