Skip to main content

Greatest Fear of Parenting

Sometimes I have nightmares about my kids. Like I get really scared. Everything from nap schedules to choice of schooling, to bumps and bruises, to developmental milestones and appearance, are cause for me to worry. But they don’t bother me as much as my worst nightmare.

My greatest fear is my kids won’t make the same life decisions I have. Its not about economic status, educational attainment or even morality and personal happiness. I worry they will not walk with God. My nightmare is that 20 years from now I’ll have adult children who are successful, well-educated, upright professionals who have no affection for Jesus.

Judy and I can drag our kids to go to church (and we do), make them pray with us before bedtime (check), talk with them about God (yup), and even study the Bible with them (alright – sporadically) but the abiding decision of trusting Christ is up to them. It is a choice that is ultimately their own. And that is a scary thing. We can influence which God they follow and model for them what God is like, but we do not control their decision to trust Him.

And yet there is a blessing in not having that control. It means it is not all up to me. It means God values our freedom to choose. After all, the most important decision in my life was my own. I don’t doubt the Holy Spirit compelled me to believe but I take full responsibility for my choice. More than that, I delight in the story of how Jesus pursued and won me over. I love being a first-generation Christian.

And I want my kids to have the same opportunity to choose. Steve Korch once told me his parenting goal was to give his children the experience of being first-generation Christians. I don’t know exactly what that looks like but I know freedom is a vital ingredient. We guard and protect their freedom to choose. So although household faith activities may not be optional, ultimately I want them to know faith in Christ is their choice.

I recognize the contradiction in that statement. How can I force them to do things and yet allow them to choose? I’m not exactly sure but I do know as kids mature, their choices become increasingly important. In the beginning, I may choose for them but as they get older, I’m more interested in helping them think through how they make their decisions. In this way, raising children in the LORD highlights the tension between law and gospel. How do you transition a child to adulthood? How do you teach a child what is right and then tell him that he gets to choose?

I see a parallel with how God raised Israel as His child in the book of Exodus. Their rescue out of Egyptian slavery was only the beginning. He gave Israel the Ten Commandments and the law revealed their sin and need not only for salvation but also transformation. They were constantly reminded in the midst of law that God had rescued them by grace. Israel’s failure to follow the law demonstrated how dependent they were on the unconditional love of God. It prepared them to meet Jesus. So in the midst of rejecting God (as the Israelites did with the golden calf), children can respond to Christ and receive forgiveness, hope, worth, and acceptance. Or not.

And that’s the beauty of the gospel. As Don Carson has said, the gospel is caught not taught. May we not stop tossing out His love. And may God work in the hearts of the receivers.


Popular posts from this blog

A Dad's Review of Passport 2 Purity

[3,100 words, 11 minute read] The sex talk is one of the most dreaded conversations parents anticipate having with their children. To make things easier, an entire industry exists to help parents with sex education. Dozens of books have been written to help parents navigate this treacherous topic with their progeny. One of the best known among evangelicals is called the Passport 2 Purity Getaway package . It is produced by FamilyLife, a division of Cru (former Campus Crusade for Christ) and consists of a five lecture CD package including a journal and exercises designed as a weekend retreat for a pre-pubescent child and his/her parent(s). Passport 2 Purity was not my initiative. Our trip came about because Judy had heard from several home-schooling mom friends how they had taken their daughters on a road trip to go through the CDs. She even heard how a mom took a trip with husband and two sons to through the curriculum. So a couple months ago, Judy suggested we take our two older boy

Why Asians Run Slower

My brother got me David Epstein's book The Sports Gene . It is a fascinating quick read. If you're interested in sports and science, it will enthrall you.  I finished it in three days. Epstein's point is that far more of an athlete's performance is due to genetics than due to the so-called "10,000 hour" rule promulgated by books such as Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell and Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin (both which are very good). The 10,000 hour rule states that any person can reach expert level of performance in a sport if they devote 10,000 hours of deliberate and intentional practice.  That's a lot of hours. Most people aren't capable of anywhere close. And that's precisely Epstein's point. Someone who devotes 10,000 hours of sport-specific practice is likely genetically gifted for the sport in extraordinary ways AND genetically gifted in their ability to persevere and benefit from practice. Therefore, a person who can pra

Unsolvable Problems in Marriage I: Lowering Expectations

Different expectations of conflict From a recent Facebook post: Working on a post about unsolvable problems in marriage: For those who have been married five or more years, on a scale of 1 to 10, how much expectation did you have entering into marriage that communication could resolve any conflict between you and your spouse? How would you rate that expectation now? People often enter into marriage thinking that most if not all their conflicts can be resolved. Women come into marriage thinking "I can make my husband a better man". Men come into marriage thinking, "My wife will learn to see things my way". This idealistic view of marriage does not survive contact with the enemy. Even for couples for whom the first years of marriage are conflict-free, raising children is its own brand of unsolvable problem. And then there's sickness and mental health issues, job changes, unemployment, moving, and shifts in friendships. Conflict in marriage is inevitable. A number