Summary: To be considered faithful as parents we must have the right target and use the right tactics.
A. Allow me to begin with a short poem by Michael Hodgin:
Child-raising theories did abound, before my children were around.
Then one day I had my own, now all those theories I disown.
Energy was once my friend, now I am at my strength’s end.
Fortune gone, the fridge is clean, my child has now become a teen!
B. So many of us have “been there, done that.” Amen?
1. I don’t have to tell you that raising children is a challenge.
2. Certainly, it is difficult to raise kids in today’s world, but it has been difficult to raise them since the very beginning…just ask Adam and Eve…you try raising Cain!
3. One mother was considering her plight in life. She said to herself, “I guess if it was going to be easy, it would not have started with something called ‘labor’.”
4. I have a cartoon that shows a young mother asking the reference librarian where to find a book. The librarian is pointing as she answers, “If you are looking for the book on how to have perfect children, it is in the fiction section.”
C. Last week we talked about being faithful in marriage, and I really tried to approach the subject realistically and compassionately.
1. I hope to do the same with today’s subject about faithful parenting.
2. None of us are perfect parents, and we will never be perfect, but we can aim to be faithful.
3. Some of us are really struggling with this task of parenting, while others are having a much easier time of it.
4. How difficult or easy a time we have in parenting is dependent upon a myriad of things; some we have control over and some we do not.
D. Someone has said that raising children is like cooking. If you want something to come out well, you have to follow the recipe and you must not skimp on the ingredients.
1. I wish it were that simple and straightforward.
2. We all appreciate the fact that if you have a great cake recipe, and are careful to use the same ingredients and follow the same directions, the cake will come out equally as well every time.
3. That is not the case with raising children.
4. Every child is unique, having their own temperaments and we parents are never exactly the same as parents – from day to day and year to year.
5. Therefore, we are always amazed at how kids can grow up in the same home, with the same parents, and yet they turn out so differently and uniquely.
E. Nevertheless, even though parenting is not exactly like cooking, there are some similarities.
1. We do need a good and tested recipe to follow.
2. And we do need to try to be consistent as we follow the directions.
3. The very best directions we have for parenting come from God himself.
4. So, what I would like to do with the rest of our time this morning, is to review some directions for parenting that we find in Scripture.
5. Keep in mind that I do not consider myself an expert in this area, rather I am just a Christian parent like the rest of you, who is trying to do the best that I can with God’s help.
6. I’ve been a parent now for about 20 years, and I consider it one of the most important and fulfilling things that God has allowed me to be a part of.
7. I know that one sermon won’t solve all our parenting woes, but I hope that something I say may enable us to be a little more focused and intentional in our parenting.
F. The text that I have chosen to work with today is not a traditional parenting text.
1. You might have expected a text like Proverbs 22:6, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”
2. Or Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers do not exasperate your children; instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
3. Obviously, those are wonderful texts, but I would like us to focus on a few verses from 1 Thessalonians 2.
4. Paul wrote these verses to describe the kind of leader that he had been with the Thessalonians.
5. He was not actually trying to give them, nor us, a model of parenting, but that is exactly what he ended up doing.
6. He said, “We were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children.” (vs. 7) And, “For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting, and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.” (vs. 11-12)