Do you feel unqualified to lead your child to Jesus? Overwhelmed at the task of guiding the spiritual journey of your family?
I have this odd hang-up about being in control. It doesn’t always show up in my everyday life but it affects my ability to do things like snow skiing, roller skating, even bike riding. I simply can’t allow an object connected to by body have control over my movement. It’s completely unnerving to think that skis, skates and wheels could take over and move me places I don’t want to go (like on the ground or in a tree).
I’ve felt this way as long as I can remember. My aversion to moving sports equipment didn’t include boats at first. I had no problem sitting in a structure that required my own force for it to move from point A to point B. Then one day in college I attended a team building canoe trip and everything changed.
My younger (and less mature) teammate thought it would be funny to rock the boat. The water was high that day so I was already on edge. When he tipped the canoe and I got caught underneath it, that was the end of my days on the river. I’ve turned down many offers to go canoeing since.
So I added canoes to my list of “things to avoid because they make me feel out of control.” I never invested time or courage into mastering these activities. I simply let them be because I didn’t like feeling unqualified and out of control when I tried them.
And then I became a mom. The funny things is, the feeling of being out of control that comes with wheels and such pales in comparison to what I often feel (in my own strength) as a parent. These tiny humans I’ve been assigned to raise can make me feel so utterly helpless and at my wits’ end from time to time. Most days I feel completely unqualified to guide them.
I have so much to learn about God myself, how could I ever teach them?
I miss the mark every single day. How can I expect them to make good decisions?
I open my Bible and most of the time I have no idea what God is trying to say to me. How can I lead my children to study His Word?
They don’t even listen to me. How can I encourage them to listen to God?
Parenting and discipleship often feels like we’re on a pair of roller skates just trying to keep from falling flat on our butt, grasping for something firm to hold every chance we get. There’s no gliding or fancy foot work in parenting. We’re simply trying to keep our feet from slipping out from under us.
Whether we’re fifth generation Christians or new to a relationship with Jesus, we’re all unqualified on our own. In Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth, he writes,
It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God. 2 Corinthians 3:5 NLT
There’s an old saying in the church. . .God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called.
Often, I’ve rolled my eyes at this notion because it feels patronizing. But I can’t think of one area of life where it’s more true than in the home.
Not one of us is actually qualified to parent our children before they enter our lives. It’s only by the grace of God we’re all still breathing and growing personally, spiritually and emotionally, making each day better than the one before.
From the very beginning we teach our children that God loves them no matter what, his spirit will guide them daily and they can look to him for forgiveness and help whenever they need it. But this message we aim to instill in our children is one we often cannot accept for ourselves.
Our lack of qualifications and strength is what proves to our children they need God. My most effective parenting moments are often the messiest. When I get real and raw with my kids and they see me living out the gospel in my humility and brokenness, this is when they begin to connect the dots. The parent who isn’t afraid to ask questions and wrestle through the hard stuff is a leader they can confidently follow. The God who loves mommy even after she’s raised her voice is a God they can safely surrender their lives to.
Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives and follow their example of faith. Hebrews 13:7 NLT
We read a verse like this and we interpret “all the good that has come from their lives” as perfection, results, spiritual domination. But what if the writer of Hebrews was instead talking about the good fruit we read about in Galatians 5? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. If this is our aim, then our “qualification” for the work of the kingdom is much more attainable. And when we’re aiming for good fruit, we begin to understand the growth process. Planting, watering, cultivating and tending our own relationship with God while we do the same for that of our family.
The Word is full of verses, like this one, that qualify us, in all our humanity, to lead our children to Jesus. It is by his grace we are called and qualified to do the sacred work of parenting and discipleship.
5 Verses that Qualify YOU to Lead your Child to Jesus:
- It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God. 2 Corinthians 3:5 NLT
- And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. 2 Corinthians 9:8 NLT
- So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Galatians 6:9 NLT
- Let your roots grow down into him and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught and you will overflow with thankfulness. Colossians 2:7 NLT
- And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6 NLT
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The book, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society (affiliate link) by Eugene Peterson is one of many books on family faith and discipleship that are on my reading list this year. In it, Peterson says,
We are in a growing-learning relationship [with Jesus], always.
I don’t know if I’ll ever get over my fear of wheels and skis and boats rocking in the river. But the further I get into my journey as a mother, the more I find the courage to move. . .to get out of my comfort zone and do things and learn things I used to be afraid of. I’m pushing past the idea that I have to be qualified before I even try, because that is the whole point of the grace I long to share with my children. It’s the growing-learning relationship. It’s the whole message of the gospel.
We don’t have to have it figured out. We can do it scared. The point is to bravely row forward, together, fully embracing the adventure of faith.
What can you do this month to bravely embrace the adventure of faith for your family?