The True Joy of Parenting.
“The father of godly children has cause for joy. What a pleasure to have children who are wise. So give your father and mother joy! May she who gave you birth be happy..” – Proverbs 23:24-25 NLT
Having been blessed with six wonderful children, Julie and I can say from experience that parenting is filled with all kinds of joy. We have experienced so much laughter and shared so many memories. And we continue to do so, even as they each grow older and move out from under our wings. Our children have made us laugh and smile. They have brought us so much happiness over the last 30-plus years that it seems that the time has literally flown by. But the older I get, the more I realize that the greatest joy any child can bring their parent is to turn out well. At the end of the day, when all is said and done, we want to see our children succeed in life. We want to see them as mature, healthy, whole adults. But as a parent who loves Christ, I know that the standard for success is not up to me. It has little to do with degree plans, career paths, car models or the neighborhood my child ends up living in. No, I know that the measure of success has much more to do with the heart, and it directly tied to their relationship with God. As a 57-year-old father of six, I am far less interested that my children make a lot of money, live in beautiful homes, or make six-figure incomes. While the world may say that is the measure of success, I have seen far too many individuals who have all that and more, live miserable, unhappy lives. They have achieved worldly success and missed out on what was truly important. Which is why Solomon says, “The father of godly children has cause for joy” (Proverbs 23:24a NLT). That man has a reason to rejoice. His children have turned out well. They have chosen to seek after and serve God. And as a result, they are wise. Solomon qualifies what a godly child looks like. “What a pleasure to have children who are wise” (Proverbs 23:24b NLT). You see, godliness and wisdom go hand in hand, because wisdom is a gift from God. Over in Proverbs 2, Solomon makes it clear, “For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest” (Proverbs 2:6-6 NLT). A wise child is one who has sought God. He has recognized that true wisdom is only available from one place, God. He has learned to make the pursuit of godly wisdom his highest priority. And he learned it from watching his own parents. He has grown up in a home where his parents sought the wisdom of God on a daily basis and lived it out in their daily lives. It was a full-time pastime for them. And it resulted in wisdom. Because as they sought the wisdom of God FROM God, He placed it directly into their hearts. “For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy” (Proverbs 2:10 NLT). God places His wisdom into our hearts and gives us the capacity to live wisely. We end up making wise, godly choices. We parent more wisely. We model marriage in front of our kids more wisely. We reveal a dependency on God that shows our children that this life is only lived in His strength and according to His terms, not ours.
As a parent, I long to see each of my children living wise, godly lives. While I want them to enjoy financial success, I know that it cannot bring them joy. No career will ever really fulfill them. No spouse will ever make them truly happy. If they lack the wisdom of God that allows them to see life through His eyes. So like Solomon, I plead with my children, “give me your heart. May your eyes take delight in following my ways” (Proverbs 23:26 NLT). But even as I type those words, I shudder, because it makes me realize how dangerous it is to invite your own children to follow YOUR ways. If they do as you do, will they end up wise? If they follow your example, will they become godly? Parenting is a great privilege and it carries tremendous responsibility. As the old saying goes, when it comes to raising children, “More is caught than taught.” They are constantly watching us, evaluating us, and copying our behavior. My wife has a favorite saying she has used over the years, and it is usually directed at me when my behavior has been less than appropriate in front of our children. She simple says, “What parents do in moderation, children do to excess.” In other words, those little acts of selfishness, indiscretion, inappropriateness, and ungodliness are lived out in the lives of our kids, but usually with a certain lack of discernment. They take it to the next level. They model our actions and end up living unwise, ungodly lives. So if I want to be the father of godly children, I must be a godly father. If I want to have wise children, I must pursue the wisdom of God and live it out in my home. Children are a blessing. Godly children are a joy. But they don’t just happen. It takes a constant pursuit of and dependence upon God.
Father, I so want to see my children living wise and godly lives as adults. I want them completely reliant upon You for all that they do. I have made a lot of mistakes over the years. I have not always modeled godliness well. But thank You for Your grace and forgiveness. Help me to use the time I have left to model the life of wisdom and godliness well, because we are never really done parenting. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men