I’ve been told that parenting is the hardest job in the world. Being a “bring-it-on kind of guy,” I felt the need to try this parenting thing for myself! So, my wife, Brittany, and I are now expecting a son in July.
All kidding aside, we really are expecting a baby, and the thought of being a parent scares me. The challenge to care for a kid is daunting, and the responsibility to raise up a godly person from birth seems near impossible. My parents were as good as I could ever ask for, but even they, in a recent conversation, told me that there are things they are now doing with my younger siblings that they wished they had done with me. Even now, with their 25 years of experience as parents, they often times feel inadequate. So, other than freak out, what in the world am I supposed to do?!
Cue the dramatic music, and in steps Candlewood Church. I am blessed and very thankful that part of Candlewood’s mission statement is to build strong families. One of the ways Candlewood does this is by hosting a parenting conference every other year. This year, the pastors invited Matt and Jan Gordon from our sister church in Florida to share their experience of raising their 11 children. I listened in rapt attention. Firstly, out of sheer amazement that they had more children than I have fingers, and secondly, because their experience is quickly becoming very relevant to my life.
What stood out from the conference to me was that parents are always training their kids and constantly being role models. Kids learn either good or bad habits from their parents. Matt and Jan shared that when parents fail to correct their children’s disobedient actions or bad attitudes, they are basically saying that their child’s actions will be tolerated. Their children were trained at a young age to respond to instruction cheerfully, completely, and quickly with consequences for disobeying being consistent, yet caring and calm. Godly standards were set and regularly upheld. Insert my incredulous look, “What child, even at a young age, always obeys their parents quickly, cheerfully, and completely on just one command?” Apparently, theirs.
As I thought more about being a parent, the chorus from Lecrae’s song about role models, “Just Like You,” kept coming to mind:
I just wanna be like you,
Walk like, talk like, even think like you
The only one I could look to,
You’re teaching me to be just like you
Well I just gotta be like, like,
I just gotta be like you
Perhaps the reason why parenting is such a hard job is because a child always ends up seeing what their parents do and copies them. It appears to me that godly standards can be set and aimed for, but if the parent is not also adhering to that standard, the job of parenting will be very difficult.
After the conference, Brittany shared with me that she was convicted to shape and correct her own behavior before anyone else’s. She felt that her attitude would have to be checked with every parenting decision that will be made.
A friend of mine, Brad Daniel, posted on Twitter just the other day, “Parents remember the goal is not to have godly kids, but to BE godly parents who point their kids to own their own personal journey with Jesus.” I have to anticipate that my son will “wanna be just like me.” I just need to make sure that I am training him well, while setting a God-fearing example that is attractive to him so, as he grows up, he will choose to follow Jesus on his own too.
Piece of cake! Or, something like that.