Sometimes the truth about reality can sound a bit, well, harsh. The above title is actually the subtitle that Kevin DeYoung gives to his chapter on parenting in the book Crazy Busy. And it’s here that DeYoung drags into the light a curious and concerning problem that most parents (including godly Christian ones—maybe especially godly Christian ones) seem to struggle with: parental busyness.
On Sunday, we discussed the concept of religious busyness from Mark chapter eleven. Jesus made it clear that there are a lot of things we can be about. And yet, if white-hot worship for God is not the thing we’re about then we’ve got it all wrong. That means that we can be about a lot of things as Christians and do a lot of things as Christians and not actually be about our Father’s will.
Do you realize that the same can be true of parenting? DeYoung puts it this way:
We live in a strange world. Kids are safer than ever before, but parental anxiety is skyrocketing. Children have more options and more opportunities, but parents have more worry and hassle. We have put unheard-of amounts of energy, time, and focus into our children. And yet, we assume their failures will almost certainly be our fault for not doing enough.
Sound familiar? Could it be, as parents, that we are so concerned about the insignificant many that we are not giving proper attention to the essential few? And if so, how are we even supposed to know what the essential few are? Let’s slow down as parents for just a minute and see what priorities the Bible places on us as parents. And then, let’s evaluate the priorities we have placed on our own parenting to see how they’ve lined up.
In Psalm 78 we read, “We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done” (v.4). Parenting can be about a lot of things, but it most certainly, according to Scripture, must be about passing the gospel on to the next generation. This is why we say at Mercy Hill that discipleship begins and ends in the home.
As parents, one of the greatest gifts we can give to our children is an unyielding passion and pursuit of the gospel. CJ Mahaney says,
Effective teaching involves explaining to our children what they are already observing in our lives by example.
Ask yourself the hard question: “What is that example?” Is it the example of a jam-packed schedule that leaves little room for the things of God? Is it an example that prizes baseball over the bride of Christ?
Secondly, though, the Bible is clear that it is our job to send our children out on mission. Look at what Psalm 127 says, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth” (vv.3-4). Reggie Joiner points out,
It is possible to hold onto our kids so tightly that we forget the ultimate goal of parenting is to let them go. . . the ultimate mission of the family is not to protect your children from all harm but to mobilize them for the mission of God.
Engaging your child in the mission of God begins now as your family lives on mission. God’s mission of sending His Son is the greatest story ever told, and now, we get to participate in that story and our children play an integral role. As a parent, though, what story is your child going to see as they grow up? There are hundreds of sub-stories about academic excellence or behavioral bliss that could play out in your home. Many of these stories are good, but none of these stories are ultimate.
Our hope is that the story played over and over again (just like the movie Frozen in our DVD player at home) is the story of Jesus—what he did, what he’s doing now, and what he will do. Why? Because that story is the most exciting story that your child could ever hear, believe, and live in response to.
So, maybe today, stop freaking out. Take a deep breath and evaluate. Parenting can be about a lot of things. Let’s make sure that at the end of every day we make it about the things that are truly of worth.
-Jeremy Dager (Aged-based Ministries Pastor)