Today's devotional is adapted from my brand-new book, Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family.
If you're struggling, frustrated, and feeling overwhelmed as a parent, it may be because you're a confused parent.
I have found in my own life, and in the lives of those I have counseled, that many moms and dads confuse God's will for parenting with their own will. It's seldom expressed and often unconscious, but it operates nonetheless and has a significant impact on everyone in the family.
Here's how it plays out: many parents are motivated more by what they want for their children and from their children rather than what God has planned to do through them in their children.
I like to summarize this confusion with two simple identities: Owner and Ambassador.
Ownership Parenting is not overtly selfish, abusive, or destructive. It seems right, it feels right, and it does many good things. But, it is foundationally misguided and misdirected and will not produce what God intends in the lives that he has entrusted to our care.
Ambassadorial Parenting begins with the radical and humbling recognition that our children don't actually belong to us. Rather, every child is God's posession for his purpose (see Psalm 127:3).
Ambassador (from 2 Corinthians 5:20) really is the perfect identity for what God has called parents to be and to do. The only thing an ambassador does, if they're interested in keeping their job, is to faithfully represent the message, methods, and character of the leader who has sent them.
Parenting is ambassadorial work from beginning to end. It's not to be shaped and directed by personal interest, personal need, or cultural perspectives. Every parent is called to recognize that they have been put on earth at a particular time and in a particular location to do one thing in the lives of their children: represent the will of God.
I must admit: I was very bad at what I am now writing about! I often treated my four children (who are grown) as if they were my possessions. I often took parenting into my own hands and did things I shouldn't have done. I was often a very poor representative of God, propelled by fear more than faith, and seeking short-term gain more than long-term transformation.
You're probably like me. What parent can look back on the days, weeks, months, and years that they had with their children with no regret whatsoever? That's why it's so important to humbly recognize how counterintuitive ambassadorial parenting is and seek the rescue and the power that only God can provide.
You see, sin makes us all more natural owners than ambassadors. Sin makes us all more demanding than patient. Sin causes all of us to find punishment more natural than grace. Sin makes all of us more able to see and be distressed by the sin, weakness, and failure of others than we are about our own. Sin makes it easier for us to talk at other people rather than listening to them.
Here's what all of this means: the thing that constantly gets in the way of our ambassadorial calling as parents is us! Humbly confessing this is the first step in your ambassadorship.
To discover the 14 gospel principles that can radically change your family, visit PaulTripp.com/Parenting.
- What are some things that you want for or from your children? Be specific.
- Are there ways in which these potentially good desires become more important than your identity as ambassador?
- In what other areas of life do you struggle with being an owner instead of an ambassador?