What Is the Daily Aim of Parenting?
From Gospel Translations
We’re honored to be joined by author and speaker Paul Tripp. He joins us one last time. Paul, as a parent, I think of parenting as painting. Each day I put one dab on a canvas. I hope it’s the right color. I hope it’s in the right spot. But parenting brings with it a lot of uncertainly, insecurity, and self-doubt. As a parent with experience, what would you say is the goal of day in and day out parenting? “Big deal” parenting is two things:
The first one is authority. Children must understand early that they have been born into a world of authority, and they are not it. The sooner a child submits to that, the more blessed his life is going to be. And so my children don’t belong to me. They belong to God. He is the ultimate owner and authority. That means that I am a representative — an ambassador of the authority of God. I am the tone of God’s voice as a parent. I am the look on his face. I am the touch of his hand.
Now this will make you weak in your knees. Here is what this means: Every time I exercise authority in the lives of my children and all those mundane little circumstances, it must be a beautiful picture of the authority of God. I want my children to see authority as beautiful and giving and serving and loving and compassionate and patient and gracious, because that is the authority of God. Children are born with a natural antipathy toward authority — a natural hatred for authority. And I want to depict authority in its divine beauty so that they will say, “Authority is a good thing. Authority is a wise thing. Authority is a protective thing. Authority doesn’t crush my freedom. It gives me freedom.” So that is a big deal.
Here is a second thing: I know as a parent that there are mysteries of the universe that, if you don’t understand these mysteries, you won’t be what you are supposed to be and you won’t do what you are supposed to do. The ultimate expression of that mystery is the mystery of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. But there are many, many mysteries — such as the mystery of the sovereignty of God — many, many of these mysteries. Well, I want to download those mysteries to my children.
So I am always looking for opportunities to take the mundane moment and unfold one of these mysteries to my children. They are not in control. Life is not about them. Love of neighbor is an important thing. Stewardship of resources is something God calls me to. We live in a world that is not just a world of authority. It is a world of grace. So I look for all of these opportunities to unfold the mysteries that have been entrusted to me through the ministry of the Spirit, through the Word of God, to my children so that they are able to understand things that become the tracks on which human life was meant to be lived.
And here is what I need to know, that if my eyes ever see and my ears ever hear the sin, weakness, and failure of my children, it is never an accident. It is never an interruption. It is never a hassle. It is always grace. God loves those children. He has put them in a family of faith. He will reveal their need to me as a parent so I can be a tool of his authority and his truth and his wisdom and his grace. That is a system. And so God will always give you more opportunities. You do the work in these little moments. It is always unfinished because change is a process and not an event. But you have the wonderful position — this truth is amazing to me — of being a tool in God’s hands for the forming of a human soul. What could be more exciting than that?