Monday, May 18, 2015

The Most Valuable Gift You Can Give a Kid

I don’t have it all figured out as a parent.  But the one thing I have learned the hard way is that my parenting goes better when I take intentional time to nurture and grow my relationship with God.

I spent my earliest years as a parent very busy, raggedly running around trying to prove myself a good, successful, happy person.  And for a while, I thought that was enough.

Until it wasn’t.  

The Do-It-Yourself (DIY) ways of the world we buy into these days will only get us so far.  At best, we end up with an exhausting and unsatisfying facade we call life.

I realize that your faith experience may be more or less than mine, but the point is we are in it together…

No matter what we do—
…how hard we work
…how smart we become
…how ambitious and driven we are, 
…how carefully we plan and prepare
…how deeply we want
…how much we give, 
…or how genuinely we love…

There are guaranteed to be times when what we do is not enough because that’s the way of this world, and we are human.  And then what?  

Regardless of the current state of our faith, don’t we all hope life is more than that?  More than a rat race?  Don’t we all want more for our kids?  

Today, I am especially thankful for my kids.  They helped change my convenient, logical perspective on God.  I took one look at the gifts I held in my arms, my beautiful babies, tiny fingers and toes—so dependent on me— and I related to God in a way I never had before.  God had a Son too, a baby born in a manger.

Thank God.  

But I think God’s grace is where many of us, not just parents, are at risk for getting stuck in our faith.  We aren’t sure how to respond to God’s grace in our lives.  

I speak to you not as a parenting expert but as an ordinary, mistake-making parent who realizes God is the expert.  He is the guide I need.

God invites us into a committed relationship with Him, and we get busy.  It’s common to leave God hanging when it comes to our personal responses to Him.

God is good for His promises in our lives, not just for one day’s eternity but for this life we are living now.  And God promises us that His Son, Jesus, came so that we can have abundant, full life

I want my kids to know and believe in God and His loving promises—not just unpredictably and sometimes but in the details of every single day—His love that’s bigger and more powerful than they will ever be on their own.  I want my kids to have an everyday faith that is genuine in truth and their actions.

God is the author and giver of life and all good gifts.
In Christ, we really do find the purpose and meaning we spend so much time seeking as we grow up.

The tricky part is, even with my best efforts, my kids’ life and faith is between them and God.  I am not in control of their personal choices at the end of the day.  But still, there’s no denying that I significantly influence my kids’ lives through my choices now.

So what does my faith have to do with my parenting?  Everything, I am learning.

For all of us in the business of impacting kids, there’s good news.  Kids don’t need us to be super-humans with picture perfect lives.  God is divine, and we are not.  No matter where we are in our faith journeys, God will meet us there.

Kids need us to let God work in us and through us— growing us along the way by His grace—while they watch.  I think that is arguably the most important gift we can give our kids.

I have way too much for one blog post on nurturing our relationship with God and growing our faith so we can nurture our kids’ faith.  This is the on-going conversation I want to begin today and encourage in days ahead.  Because our faith isn’t meant to be something we figure out by ourselves  

So in an effort to get us thinking together and talking, here is one simple place to begin that makes all the difference to me.  It’s a simple prayer.

Holy God,
Minister to me, and then minister through me to your people 
[these children you have entrusted to me].
In the Mighty name of Jesus I pray,

One of my pastor’s shared this prayer from another pastor.  It’s one she finds helpful before preaching.  I find it helpful and adaptable to many situations but especially as I am in the throws of raising my three boys.  And so, I am sharing it with you.

My intentional time and effort with God allows me to parent from a place of overflow instead of a place of depletion.

What we really need and what our kids really need everyday is One and the same-- the Spirit of God pouring into us, filling us, and guiding us.
 "For from him and through him and to him are all things. 
To him be the glory forever. 


Question: How do you take intentional time to nurture and grow your relationship with God in the midst of parenting?  What works?

 I would love for you to share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below to keep our conversation going and encourage others…

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