Ever feel like there’s no time for you to grow spiritually because you’re always busy with the kids? In this episode, I look at this a different way because the truth is being a parent can actually help you grow closer to God. As we deal with all the busy and all the exhaustion we can try and do it on our own, or we can press into God.  The thing is – the more we depend on God the more like Christ we become – and that, as we’ll find out is God’s purpose.  Tune in to find out how you can strengthen your faith and become more and more like Christ – because you are a parent, not inspite of it!

Growing in Faith Through Parenting

There is no doubt about it parenting is hard, full on, exhausting and yet it can also be rewarding and even joyful.  As I look back on our directive parenting years, and the teen years, and even now as a parent of 4 adults one thing that I am aware of is that all of the things that happened in those years – the challenging behaviour, the hard circumstances, the struggles – all created an opportunity for me to grow spiritually.  I know I talk a lot about how we as parents help shape our children’s beliefs, values, character, life skills and so forth – the reality is our children shape us as well – and even more so they create this context where we have to press into God, where we have to depend on Him and His love, mercy and grace and in doing so not only do we learn to respond with patience, kindness and grace – but we are growing in our faith walk too – we become more like Christ, more mature in our faith.  

 

God’s Calling to Parents

This is probably a bit controversial but I don’t believe that God calls us to be a mother – instead, He calls us to be a follower of Christ, and as we respond to that call it will change how we live our life – how we relate as a spouse, how we parent our kids, how we run our business, how we steward our resources, how we spend our time – basically how we do life. Following Christ affects, or changes, every part of our life – every choice, every attitude, every action – should be to honour and glorify Christ.

But of course, we don’t always live life, or make choices consistent with the Spirits promptings – this is the challenge of living by the Spirit (that is living with the Spirit’s guidance) or living by the Flesh (living in response to the promptings of our flesh).  

Galatians 5:16-18 says “So I say, walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.  For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh.  They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”

We are familiar with the verses of the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control- these things happen in our life, so much so that people (including our children) can see these things in our life – these things happen when we walk in step with, or in obedience to the Holy Spirit.

Romans 8:28-29 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.  For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.”  

This verse reminds us that all experiences, including our parenting experiences, are used by God to conform us to the image of Christ.  

Being a parent is one of those ‘all things’.  If we were to speak this verse to parents specifically we would be able to say – And we know that in all family life God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.  

Parenting as a Context for Spiritual Growth

Being a parent is the context, the circumstances that we will be in that that God will use to conform us to His image.

Regardless of the ages of your children you will be faced with challenges – how will you respond?  

  • When you have sleepless nights because baby is crying – 
  • When toddler is throwing a doozey of a tantrum in the middle of a church service – 
  • When your school age child is constantly hitting their sibling and saying hurtful things –
  • When your teenager wants to follow the crowd and does things to decieve you –

 

What will your response be?  Will it be guided by the Spirit?  I don’t say this to guilt you – I simply don’t see it that way – what I see is an opportunity for us to grow as a Christ follower, for us to put off the old man, to renew our mind, to walk in the spirit – and by doing so growing in our faith and becoming more like Christ.  

Being a mum threw me into God’s word – I needed His truth in my head all the time. I prayed – all the time – arrow prayers, long prayers, on my knees prayers, and going to sleep prayers. I asked others to pray for me. I filled my mind and my heart with worshipful music so I could meditate on God’s truths.

There were seasons where I didn’t get to do daily devotions, seasons where I didn’t dig deep into Bible Study, or times when I didn’t gather with others to talk about God’s word.  But God was always in my heart, always in my mind and always a part of my day to day life because He is a person I relate to day in and day out, He isn’t someone I make appointments for – He is just with me so I talk to Him.

And as I walk with Jesus day by day, God does the work in my heart and I grow to be like Christ – this is God’s will for us all.

Though that is daunting, confronting and sometimes overwhelming when we look at through the lense of Christ’s love for us – it is encouraging. God is using every circumstance you are facing as a parent to draw you to Himself, and to conform you into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.  It isn’t something you do, but as you walk in step with the Spirit – being guided by what is in keeping with who God is, then you will be changed, you will be growing in likeness to Christ.  

This is a response to our salvation – because of the work Christ did at the cross – we are forgiven and given a new heart – we now want to be like Christ.  It is something that is deep inside of us – we no longer want the things of the flesh – and when we do follow after the flesh, we know that we don’t really want them (that is the struggle Paul talks about).  As a Christian we want to be like Christ, to live a life that honours and glorifies Him.  

 

 

Heart-focused Parenting Action Step

Though the work on our heart – both in salvation and in becoming like Christ, is a work of God in our life – there are a few things that we can do.  God gives us a choice-maker, you’ll often hear me talking about it as our heart – though we are saved from eternal seperation from God, we do have daily choices to make.  So there are three things that I want to remind you of today, to help you make the choice to listen to the Spirit, and let Him conform you to Christ’s image, regardless of what you are facing in your family life this week.

 

1- Put off the “old man” and Put on the “new”

Ephesians 4:22-24 says, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” 

Putting off and putting on is a very deliberate act.  We need to deliberately walk away from the things of the flesh – things that don’t glorify God and deliberately walk towards the things that are of God.  We do that by reading the Scriptures (so that we know God, His character, His ways), by praying (so that we can listen to and obey the Spirit’s promptings).  

Parenting creates the context where we have to deal with the old man.  We have to put off the habitual responses that don’t reflect the work Jesus has done in our heart.  Impatience, anger, harshness.  These things are a part of the old man – the new man, the redeemed person responds to frustrations with a God-given patience, gentleness, and calm.  

We deal with the old man habits by apologising, asking for forgivness, and restoring broken or hurt relationshps and then by doing the right thing. This is how we grow in righteousness.

 

2- Renewing our mind

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Whenever I read this verse I always connect it to the verse in 2 Cor 10:5 “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

Parenting is a context where wrong thinking pops up – self-doubt, comparison, fear, anxiety, perfectionism, guilt, desire to control, unforgiveness and bitterness – these thoughts can direct our choices as a parent.  But they don’t line up with the knowledge of God and we are told to catch them, and make our thoughts obedient to Christ.  God says, we are loved, chosen, accepted, valuable, we have purpose, we are God’s masterpiece! 

We are to change our thinking. Though the Holy Spirit is able to wash our thoughts and make them clean, we are also encouraged to do something active about what is in our head, ensuring that those thoughts line up with Christ’s teachings – we are to actively reject anything that contradicts God’s word. 

And as we do that, and replace those wrong thoughts (I have friend who calls them stinkin’thinkin’) when we replace them with the truth of Gods word, we are able to think as the new creation God has made us.

 

3-Put on the Armour of God

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

So much in that.  But the takeaway that I want to mention today is that you have to put on the armour.  The armour will help you stand, it will guard your heart, it will give you purpose, it will protect you and enable you to fight the good fight as a Christian.  Actually each piece of the armour is what is needed if we are to put off the old man and renew our mind. 

When we do these three things – put off the old man, renew our mind, and put on the armour – we will be growing in our faith, maturing, we will also be growing to be more and more like Christ regardless of what is going on in your family life.

Thank you for inviting me into your journey of faith and parenting. I hope this discussion has encouraged you to dig into God – for your own sake, not because you have to be a good example for your kids and teach them about God, but because you love Him and want to live your life with Him as Lord.  I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences. You can do that by leaving a comment on my blog, or on any socials.  Or you can send me an email – from here.  I actually really like emails – so if you want to chat that way I’m more than happy to email back. 

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