Don’t Be That Parent Part 4: Understanding Your Role

One of the toughest parts of spiritual parenting is understanding your role.  Imagine if you’d been cast as the Tin Man in a live production of the Wizard of Oz, but you thought you were supposed to play the Wizard.  You’d come on stage at all the wrong times, say all the wrong lines and generally make a mess of the whole show.

Sometimes, we do the same thing when it comes to helping our kids follow Jesus.  Even though our motivation is good,  we misunderstand our role in the spiritual formation process, and miss out on the opportunity to play our part.

This is particularly hard when our kids begin asking questions about salvation and baptism.  Over the last few weeks, we’ve talked about how parents may fall into the role of the salesman, who tries to sell their kid on making a decision, the bouncer, who tries to hold them back until they’re old enough or the client, who farms out the whole process to the professionals at church.

Notice that all of these parents have great motives.  They want to see their children begin a relationship with Jesus when they are mature enough to understand the decision. However, God has a better role for us to play in the process.   Continue reading

Don’t Be That Parent Part 3: The Client

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.

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.

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Don’t Be That Parent Part 2: The Bouncer

imageA couple of years ago, on the way home from a Children’s Ministry event, my daughter dropped a bomb on me.  She said, “I think I’m ready, Dad.  I’m ready to get baptized.”

Immediately, I felt the pressure.  I wanted to say the right thing to affirm her, but also make sure she really knew what she was getting into.  This was one conversation I did not want to mess up.

When our kids start asking questions about salvation, baptism and what it means to follow Jesus, it’s easy to freak out.  It’s easy fall into unhealthy extremes.

In my last post we looked at the first of these extremes, the salesman.  The salesman is the parent who thinks it’s their job to convince their kids to get baptized and follow Jesus as early as they possibly can.

In this post we’ll look at the parent who’s at the opposite end of the spectrum.

Parent #2 – The Bouncer

A bouncer’s job is to keep underage kids out of the club.  Bouncer parents do the same thing.  The bouncer parent is determined to make sure that their child is 110% ready to follow Jesus.  They will be old enough!  They will be smart enough!  They will be everything enough before they are allowed to give their life to Christ!  The bouncer’s standard line is “you’re not ready yet.”

Bouncer parents have great intentions.  They want to make sure their children are able to grasp what it means to have a relationship with Jesus.  They want their children to fully understand the gravity of the decision.  That’s a good thing.

We’ve all known people who came to Christ as kids but, as adults, said they didn’t understand the decision they had made.  Nobody wants that.  But we also don’t want to quench the work of the Holy Spirit.

If you struggle with being a bouncer parent, here a few things to remember.   Continue reading