For the past couple of posts in this series we’ve been looking at the extremes parents may fall into when they’re helping their child think about salvation and baptism. Whether it’s the Salesman who pressures their child into getting baptized too early or the Bouncer who thinks kids have to be 110% ready to begin a relationship with Jesus, it’s easy to become the spiritual parent that none of us want to be.
Today, we’ll look at one more parenting model to avoid. The Client.
Merriam-Webster defines a client as “a person who engages the professional advice or services of another.” There’s nothing wrong with being a client. We all act as clients or customers every day.
When we have work that needs done, but we don’t have the expertise or time to do it, it just makes sense to pay someone to do the job right. Depending on our skill set, we may hire professionals to do our taxes, offer legal advice, work on our cars and plan our weddings. It’s not that we don’t value the task. We just know there’s someone who can do the job better than us.
We approach parenting the same way. If I want my kids to learn gymnastics, ballet or horseback riding, I have to pay an expert to teach them how to do it. If they want to play the piano or the violin, they’re not going to learn it from me.
Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to carry this same mindset into our kids’ spiritual lives. We think of it like this:
I want my kids to know Jesus, so I take them to church. After all, the church has great programs and Children’s Ministry experts who can teach my kids to follow Jesus way better than I could. Not only have they been to Bible college or seminary, but they know how to explain things to kids. When my child starts asking questions about salvation and baptism, I definitely don’t want to blow that, so I’m going to take them to the professionals to get it right.
This line of thinking makes total sense. Of course we take our kids to church to help them to know God. That’s a wonderful thing. However, even though our motives are good, it’s easy to forget one important fact. Parents are the experts on their kids. Not their Children’s Pastor. Not their Sunday School teacher. Not their small group leader. Parents.
We know our kids inside and out. We know everything everything about them. We know their hearts, how they’re wired, what makes them tick. That makes us uniquely qualified to help them process the decision to follow Jesus and all of the big spiritual choices of life that follow. That’s God’s design.
At best, the church can partner with us, echo our teaching and leadership and reinforce the spiritual development that can happen at home, but it can never replace it.
As a Children’s Pastor, I used to have parents bring kids to me all the time and ask if I could tell them if their child was ready to be baptized. I always wanted to say, “No, I can’t. I’m not their dad. I’m not the expert on this kid.”
I get it. As parents who love Jesus there’s nothing we want more than for our kids to follow Jesus along with us. We want to see them in heaven, and watch them live our their faith here and now. But no professional Christian can teach them that like a parent can.
In my next post, we’ll talk about how to do it. We’ll look at a simple model of spiritual parenting that any of us follow. Now that we know what kind of parents we don’t want to be, it’s time look at the kind of parent God can help us become.
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