Do I have a Plan?
As we continue looking at the “7” Marks of an family-equipping church, we come to mark #3. In this mark, Parenting with a Plan, Dr. Jones states, “Parents are equipped, through pastoral proclamation and church practices with a plan for their child’s discipleship. The church and its leadership may serve as a catalyst for this process, but parents take responsibility for the Christian formation of their children.”
I believe for this post it is necessary for me to come at this topic, not as Family Life Pastor, but as a husband and father. Here we go. I have struggled with a plan. Although I want my children to grow and love God and love others, I had believed my responsibility was the physical provision and the church’s responsibility was the spiritual provision. It was probably a few years ago that God had begun to radically change my opinion about this process. As with most things God opens my eyes to, this was going to require some change. This change wasn’t easy. First, this gave me more responsibility. I already had a busy schedule and how was this going to effect an already packed week. It was much more convenient to hand this responsibility (my child’s spiritual growth) off to someone else. Second, although I loved the churches God has allowed me to be a part of, not too many of them were very effective at encouraging and equipping me for my spiritual parental responsibility. To their defense, I can definitely identify couples from the churches we have been a part of, who are healthy and passing their faith down through the generations. However, I wouldn’t say they were creating a culture of healthiness, but basically a sprinkling here and there. All this to say, God was saying to me, through His word, that I was responsible and needed to be moving to a more faithful understanding of my role.
This past weekend Shannon and I were able to attend a parenting conference called Instructing a Child’s Heart by Dr. Tedd Tripp. This was just what we needed. Weeks before the conference the Lord had been laying upon my heart a mission statement for our family. How would the Mileski’s explain their purpose in life? How would my kids explain to someone their purpose in life? How did they understand God’s purposes for their lives? What were key foundational values that we believed God was pleased with and we could encourage one another towards in our home? Although we had a pretty good idea and had begun to communicate it to the kids a week ago, this conference sealed the deal with it’s importance for our family.
This is one of the reasons for the image above that has a stone path. The Mileski purpose is To Glorify God and Help People Become Faithful Followers of Jesus. We have titled the values we will hold to in our home as the Family Trail. We think of our values as being steps on a trail. Our values are. . .
Ephesians 6:1-3 states “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, because this is right. Honor your father and mother-which is the first commandment with a promise-that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life in the land.” We like to teach them that staying on the family trail will also fulfill this command with the promise of going well and long life.
Now this is just a small slice of the overall parenting responsibility, but we hope this is laying a foundation or structure that will be helpful for them to enjoy God and love one another. What about when you get off the path you might ask, because we all have been there and done that? Well, that’s where corrective discipline is necessary to restore this person back onto the path.
You might be saying to yourself that these guys should have already had this figured out, and maybe you are right. However, we are thankful for a God in heaven who is a God of mercy and hope. Mercy, in that we parents don’t do everything right, but He is patient and forgiving. A God of Hope in that wherever we are in the parenting process, maybe your kids are about to launch into adulthood or are already there, He has a good plan for our future. Through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit we can begin today to seek His guidance in our parenting and the humility to chart a different course if necessary.