Parenting is a huge responsibility. The responsibility to parent my children belongs to John and I. It is a sobering responsibility. I see nowhere in scripture where the command is for the church to “raise up our children in the way they should go”, and yet I see far too often that many parents are relying on the Sunday School program, the children’s ministry of their church, or Christian schooling to train their children in the things of God. All of these things can be a very good support system, but they cannot be the primary source of training our children receive. We as parents are the one commanded by God to do the training, it is completely our responsibility!
I am not saying that the body of Christ does not have any responsibility in training children. I Timothy 4:12 clearly states that any in the body who are older are to “set an examples for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity”. In addition, leaders in the body are commanded to “be an example to the flock” (I Peter 5:3). This command is also a serious one. Every one of us is commanded to set an example in the way that we live before the younger generation. That is a very serious command and should not be taken lightly. Be aware, someone is watching you! You are teaching whether you like it or not, simply by being, simply by the example you set, whether it is a good example or a bad one!
The body of Christ is called to be an example to your children, but not to train your children for you! You as parents are the shepherds of your flock! Parenting them should be your primary ministry.
Mothers, I want to address you from my heart! I know well the days of having little ones. I feel like I have two life times of parenting. Once long ago, and now again in a whole new dimension. I know what it’s like to have one my hip, the other clinging to my leg, and one more just out of reach! I remember the days of laundry and shopping when everything took twice as long, oh wait, I’m still there. I remember also the frustration of having my sole focus on my children when I wanted to be involved with other things. I remember years ago having to step off the worship team for a season, so that I could be with my little ones in the worship service and train them how to worship and sit in church. I remember the times when my devotional time with the Lord was a fight because of all the things that pulled at my time during the day and the exhausting that would hit me at night.
Years ago, I remember a moment that was pivotal in my heart regarding the importance of my role as a mother. I was listening to Judson Cornwall speak on worship. I cannot tell you the details of his message, but one sentence that he spoke has been emblazoned on my heart for many years now.
In the middle of a sermon on the importance of worship, he said something like this: “I want to address mothers in this room. Many times you feel like your worship is inadequate or ineffective because you are needed by your children. But I want you to know that during the season that you are training your children, that very sacrifice is an act of worship to God. He receives the care and attention you give to your children as worship unto Him.”
I will never forget those words. They have impacted my heart deeply and I repeat them to you now. Mothers, the hours you spend caring for your children with compassion in your hearts, the time that you give to them when you could be doing other things, is a sweet fragrance to the Lord. Remember the words of Jesus “If you do it to the least of these, you have done it unto me.”
I’m in new stage of parenting now. My children’s ages range from 3-18. Some days meeting the needs of each of them is pure exhaustion. From temper tantrums to pre-teen emotional melt downs. From home work help to potty training. From being woken in the night by a frightened little one to being kept up late by a teenager that needs to talk through life. I remind myself every day, “This counts.” This matters before the Lord.
And I’m reminding you now. This counts. This matters before the Lord. It is a precious fragrance before the throne.