Series Intro: Last year, my husband and I participated in a theological training course through our church called Porterbrook. As part of the course requirements, I gave a presentation in response to one of the modules. The module contended that all of life is to be lived to the glory of God, and I reflected on that as it pertains to parenting. Recently I’ve been thinking about these principles and thought it might be helpful for my own heart to revisit them. Maybe they can encourage you, too. I’ve broken them into a few parts to appear over the next few weeks.
Part 2: Life on Display
A second aspect of living for God’s glory is to display His character to a watching world. As the Porterbrook authors write referencing Ephesians 3:10, “The person I am, the life I live, and the things I do must all commend God to others.”
As a parent, I like the idea of modeling God’s authority to my children. As in: I’m the boss.
It’s not that authority, obedience, and discipline are not essential pieces of parenting. But I know I can quickly become obsessed with obedience, wanting a child who makes me look good in front of my friends, who doesn’t bother me, and who is an all-around pleasant human being. I want my children to bring glory to me!
But as the PB authors point out, a specific application of living for God’s glory is living to love God and other people, not myself. I think God is glorified when we display the love that He modeled for us in Christ. 1 John 4:10-11 says, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” So the cross serves as an example of how we are to love and what love does. Paul Tripp describes it this way, “God’s love is willing to sacrifice for our redemptive good. It didn’t demand reciprocation or that the people being loved are deserving.” And the best part is, while the cross serves as an example for us to replicate, it also serves as the means through which we are able to love our children this way.
Focusing on authority has a way of allowing me to think I am somehow above my children. But the thing about love that is driven by the cross is that I need it too. I can’t love my child like God does – I need God’s love just like my child does. Elyse Fitzpatrick says, “Living in light of God’s love for me in Christ as displayed on the cross creates a dynamic of not us vs. them. Instead it’s, ‘I’m just like you…Let me partner with you; let’s go to Jesus together.’” Living and parenting this way allows me to rest in the reality of my inadequacy. Rather than claiming more control than I truly have, I recognize that I have no ability whatsoever to change my child. Salvation is of the Lord! And Fitzpatrick points out that when we embrace this reality, we find the liberation of being an instrument in the hands of God, bringing His rescuing grace to our children. And how humbling a reality that is! How much more is God glorified when we realize that only He can do the work in our children that we so desperately desire?