*This article may seem controversial to some of you. To others, it may clash with your particular interpretation of Scripture or belief. I would humbly ask you to carefully consider what I write in this article, as I genuinely believe it could be a great help to you.
This is every parent’s greatest desire: To control the outcome of what their children become in every way possible. Whether you ever state this as your goal, or whether you can even articulate this, this is for many parents their instinctive deep down desire, especially of Christian parents.
Each of us as dads and moms will find that this is one of the most difficult realities to face in our parenting journey. Many parents will simply deny this reality and choose not to even grasp it. Others will search their Bible for verses that promise them their desired outcome is guaranteed. It is very, very hard to face this reality. To understand and accept that after years, and years, and years of hard, diligent, difficult work, invested in your children’s lives, it may not result in the exact outcome you want or imagined for them is extremely difficult to swallow. We must, however, for our spiritual and emotional well being and for truth’s sake, realize that we truly do not have the absolute power to determine the exact outcome of each child’s life and life choices.
If you refuse to see this reality, this truth, you will most likely become an overbearing, controlling father or mother. Anxiety will tear you apart, in your vain attempt to control the outcome you want to happen under your forceful power. Nothing is as scary as free will! However, we must face it, while at the same time keeping our determination, our sense of purpose, and our vision in raising and training our children for Jesus Christ.
We can influence the outcome, we can shape them towards a particular outcome, we can pray fervently for their lives, we can instill and build godly character, we can train them in character and proper behavior, we can instill certain habits and values, we can nurture and model Biblical faith and obedience to God, but we cannot absolutely guarantee the perfect outcome of our imagining. We cannot guarantee that they will be the perfectly, wise, righteous, upright, smashing godly successes in all aspects of life that we hope or picture in our minds they will be. We cannot control their responses to all of life’s great challenges and difficulties on the road of life ahead of them.
I would like to explain some of why this is our reality. God, in His Sovereign power, wisdom, and design, has given each of us, including our children, their own free will. As parents, we are commanded by God to teach them to obey and to bring them up in the ways of the Lord. We are to be a godly example to them. You will see many, many good things happen in your children’s lives. Many of our children will indeed carry on in the very things we instilled in them for the rest of their lives, and yet, their lives may not look exactly like we imagined. Some of our children may even take a path in life that we would never have chosen ourselves. Some paths, while not sin, may be completely different looking than what we thought they should do, or what our preferences would be, or what our convictions dictate to us. Some children may develop different Biblical convictions than the ones we have. They may see certain scriptures differently than you do.
Some children may struggle with things that for them, because of their unique God-given personality and temperament and the human sinful flesh that each of us has, is vastly different than what you may struggle with. Some children may even have a condition such as Autism, or Aspergers, or A.D.D. that presents them with challenges to face that you never had to deal with yourself. With another child, you may find yourself thinking, why is that such a struggle for them, I never struggled with that? It won’t make sense to you. I cannot tell you how many times I have wished as a father I had a magic wand and I could disappear all evil, brokenness, and temptation from the world.
I often reflect on King David. This tenderhearted shepherd boy who played his harp, wrote and sang songs to God, obediently cared for his father’s sheep, who had such a tender heart towards God, whose faith was so great that he slew giants. He walked so humbly in his service to King Saul. Yet, even this man, this heroic godly man, succumbed to terrible temptations, took another man’s wife, and had that man killed. Yes, he repented, and yet it did not undo what he had done. This godly man, this man after God’s own heart, still failed so miserably with his son Adonijah. David made some terrible mistakes in his life.
Keep in mind there is no greater parent in all the universe than God himself. Even his children, in whom He has placed His Holy Spirit, causing them to be born again, divinely working to shape their character through trials and difficulties, still have their own free will and many often choose to go in a different direction than their Heavenly Father would want them to. God does not control them as though they are robots, or programmed them like a computer that do exactly, at all times, everything He wants or desires.
Also, bear in mind we have a great enemy, a terrible adversary who is relentlessly trying to claw and maim our children. He is working overtime to kill and destroy, to tempt and to deceive. The world and the culture, are under his wicked and evil influence. He is the prince and the power of the air.
One observation I have made over the years is this: Pain and trauma, injustice and evil, can have a very complex and very difficult to understand impact, on the human psyche and person. Personality and temperament have a big influence on how we respond and interact with life events. We tend as humans to be very formulaic in how we approach life and there can be good wisdom in particular strategies and insights.
But life is not wrapped up in a nice little box with bows and ribbons. Raising kids is not like your favorite cake recipe where you just add eggs, milk, butter in exact quantities, at an exact temp, for an exact amount of time and presto a perfect chocolate cake every time! Things may well happen to our kids that we could have never in a million years anticipated, or planned for. Our children will face some incredibly difficult challenges, hardships, and struggles.
I have watched through the years as very godly fathers and mothers experience excruciating pain, sorrow, and anguish because of terrible decisions or foolish choices that one of their older children make. I have seen them suffer anguish and grief because of grave injustices or harm done to their children. While it is always wise to consider if or how I may have contributed to their life choices and what if anything I could have done better to help them, in the final analysis, we cannot perfectly control and determine by our great parenting the exact outcome of their adult lives. This is very painful, but a true reality we must come to understand.
In conclusion, let me say, mom and dad, give your very best. Give all you have to invest, influence, impact, train and disciple your kids. Sincerely strive to grow and learn all you can to be a more excellent, wise and effective parent. Cry out to God in prayer for each of your children’s lives, never stop asking God to work in their life. It is absolutely worth every ounce of your effort. Never forget the primary reason you do it all!
We live for the audience of One! No matter what the final, exact outcome, we do it all to honor our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ. I can guarantee this, He is very pleased by your efforts and He will eternally reward you no matter what the exact earthly outcome is.
I believe these messages will give you great encouragement.