We all have experienced the common pains of parenting. And the pains are common because we live in a society of common pressures. The broader culture in which we all live wields enormous power over our hopes, fears, and behavior as parents. Sometimes we don’t even realize it, and this may be the greatest danger of all. In order to avoid having our hearts and minds tossed and turned by every wind and wave of our culture’s “doctrine” on parenting, we need to be aware of these often occurring storms and tie ourselves to the masthead of the gospel.
1. Watch out for the waves of performance. We all want to be the proud parent in the bleachers. We all want to have ten bumper stickers declaring the brilliance of our child. We want to be able to casually mention at the party that our son was accepted at Harvard.
The desire to see our child succeed and bring pride to the family is a common one. And it is not bad. But if making sure our children perform well is one of our main objectives as parents, this good desire could turn into a bad demand. If this happens, our drive to make our children succeed will drive them away. They will either perform well, and yet be burdened by the constant threat of failure, or they will not, and be burdened by the judgment of our constant disappointment.
2. Watch out for the winds of praise. Just as the winds stir up the waves that beat against a ship, the quest for praise is closely related to the quest for performance. Our desire to be praised by others often pushes us to perform. The Bible calls this the fear of man, and it is extremely dangerous. “The fear of man lays a snare…” (Proverbs 29:25).
Our kids are not easily fooled. They know why we want them to get straight A’s and make the basketball team. Yes, they may see our good motives. But they certainly see our not-so-good motives: we want to feel good about our parenting and have others praise us for it.
These motives lay the greatest snare when we push our kids to perform religiously, turning the church into the ball field. When we do this we are in danger of driving our kids away from the very place designed to offer freedom from the tyranny of performance!
3. Hold fast to the masthead of the gospel. The fear of man may lay a snare, “but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe” (Proverbs 29:25). The Lord desires to set us and our kids free from the bondage of praise and performance. We don’t have to be the perfect parents with perfectly performing kids. Yes, we may want that because it brings us the praise of man. But God alone deserves praise, because God alone is the perfect parent with a perfectly performing Son, Jesus Christ. And Christ’s performance of perfect obedience and perfect sacrifice for sin is what affords us peace and joy even when our kids do not excel and our parenting is imperfect. Hold fast to Him by faith and you will be safe in your parenting from the waves of performance and the winds of praise.
Author: Pastor Jason Poling