Tonight we watched session 13 of The Case For Kids. The premise of tonight was from James 4:1-10: What causes fights and quarrels among you? Paul Tripp exhorted parents that any anger we have in our hearts towards our children reveals the idols that are in our hearts. Desires are not wrong, but when a desire rules us instead of Christ, conflict with other humans will result. Examples:
It is not wrong to desire comfort. God created comfort foods, warmth, rest, etc. But when our desire for comfort begins to take priority in our hearts, everything will become out of balance and we will become angry with our children. Our discipline of them will be nothing more than teaching them to not interfere with our pursuit of comfort.
It is fitting that our children should be taught to respect their parents and all in authority over them. But it is important that respect does not become an idol to parents. When it does, the parents will become personally offended and angry when they are disrespected. A parent who does not worship respect will be concerned primarily with the spiritual welfare of a disrespectful child. They will seek to lead that child to become truly respectful because of what is at stake for the child’s future: that it will go well with them and they will live long. They will not demand respect angrily and try to get respect by way of threats. Only when respect has its proper place in a parent’s heart, is a parent able to teach and encourage the child properly.
Appreciation, Success, Control:
Paul Tripp told a funny story about when his 16 year old thought it would be fun to dye his hair florescent green. He did this the day before Tripp was supposed to speak at a conference in Philadelphia with his whole family present. Just think of it, Tripp speaking on parenting and in walks his lovely wife, his lovely kids, and then Christmas-tree boy. He was tempted to be very angry at his son. However, his son had not timed the hair dying maliciously. If admiration, pride and control were what had first place in Tripp’s heart, he would not have been able to overlook his son’s foolishness.
Anytime we are ruled by a desire, our relationships will be damaged. We will find ourselves treating people kindly when they are giving us what we desire. But we will find ourselves instantly against them when they suddenly aren’t playing into our agenda. This is not the Biblical grounds for discipline. We do not discipline our children for our own good, but for their own good, just as God disciplines us for our own good. Any punishment that is given our children because they interfered with our pursuit of comfort, they embarrassed is in public (pursuit of admiration), they failed to appreciate us, will not produce godly fruit in our children. They can tell the difference.
Signs that you have idols in your heart that hurt your relationship with your kids:
Moments of ministry become moments of anger
You personalize what is not personal
Tend to be adversarial in your approach
Tend to settle for situational solutions that do not get to the heart (quick fixes)
Tend to be driven by personal desire instead of God’s purpose
“Your idolatry puts you in the way of, rather than being part of, what God want to do in your life and the life of your child.” The Lord can do a work of grace in anyone’s heart at anytime. But our prayer as parents is that he uses us to lead that child to him, not that he lead the child to himself in spite of us. We should never be a stumbling block to our children.
This discussion further proves the point of how parenting is such a means of sanctification. No one can really realize how much they value comfort until they are pulled from a warm bed in the middle of the night by the cries of a needy newborn. Before parenting, it’s so easy to just coast along in your spiritual life. Once children come along you are daily confronted with your own sin. But this is a chance to also daily repent and grow. This is what God desires, that we grow up to maturity. Letting go of our idols is only possible when we discover how much more beautiful God is. That is what the final video was on: discovering God’s beauty and passing it along to our children. Soon I will post on this final video so stay tuned.