If I polled 100 Christian parents, I bet all would agree that they desire to raise “good” children – those who are kind to others, respectful to authority, and stay out of trouble. Isn’t this a good goal?
Blogger Barrett Johnson encourages us to rethink this mission.
▼ Jump to Listen to Episode #33: Blind Spots in Parenting: Why Raising Good Kids is So Dangerous ▼
RAISING “GOOD” KIDS
“The only problem with this goal is that it runs in stark contrast to what the Bible teaches. The gospel is not about making bad people moral, but about making dead people alive. If we teach morality without the transforming power of the gospel and the necessity of a life fully surrendered to God’s will, then we are raising moral pagans.” How to Raise a Pagan Kid in a Christian Home
Expanding on this point, Phil Vischer (the creator of Veggie Tales and my favorite What’s in the Bible? series) added:
“I looked back at the previous 10 years and realized I had spent 10 years trying to convince kids to behave Christianly without actually teaching them Christianity. And that was a pretty serious conviction. You can say, “Hey kids, be more forgiving because the Bible says so,” or “Hey kids, be more kind because the Bible says so!” But that isn’t Christianity, it’s morality.“
Suddenly I realized that my objective of raising “good” kids is seriously missing the mark.
RAISING “BROKEN” KIDS
“Do you teach your kids ‘be good because the Bible tells you to’ or do you teach your kids that they will never be good without Christ’s offer of grace? There is a huge difference. One leads to moralism; the other leads to brokenness. One leads to self-righteousness; the other leads to a life that realizes that Christ is everything and that nothing else matters.”
Sounds like a demented goal for a parent.
But I now see that it’s only when my children realize their need of a Savior that they can love unconditionally and serve selflessly. Brokenness allows them to be Jesus’ hands and feet to our dying world.
Isn’t that the goal that I really desire?
TRAINING THE HEART
Now, I’m not saying that we need to crush or break our children. Nor am I saying that morals are bad. Quite the opposite. Again going back this blog post, my desire is to train my children’s hearts. Here are some examples from the Bible.
It’s teaching them to love others because Jesus loves them (I John 4:19).
Not because it is the “moral” thing to do.
It’s training them to serve because Jesus modeled being a servant for all (Mark 9:35).
Not because it will get them kudos.
It’s reminding them to forgive because they are deeply forgiven (1 John 1:9).
Not because it’s the “right” thing to do.
It’s disciplining them to obey because we show love to Jesus through obedience (John 14:23).
Not because they fear me or consequences.
It’s coaching them to understand that any good that comes from them is because of Jesus.
Not because of anything that they do or talents they possess.
It’s guiding them to know that Jesus is their only hope and purpose (Jeremiah 29:11).
Not that hope comes from their talents, work ethic, or dreams.
And this requires brokenness, not morals.
Yes, have you ever read Give Them Grace by Elise Fitzpatrick? I’ve read a lot of Christian parenting books in my 17 years as a parent but never one like it.
I haven’t read this book. Thank you for the referral. –heidi