Gospel Parenting: Planting Seeds in the Soil of Their Needs
As I sit down to write this, I hear my son rustling through a box of legos along with a Boxcar Children’s book buzzing through the speaker in his bedroom. The baby monitor sits on a table beside me, emitting a gentle stream of white noise. In it’s grey and yellow light I see the silhouette of my daughter, curled into a tiny heap, her chest expanding with each breath. She is snoozing peacefully in her crib.
For one sacred moment, no one needs me.
I’ve been a mom for five years now. I know how rare these moments are. I also know that this moment won’t last long. But today, I’m actually pausing to reflect on how the years of being needed will not last long. And why we must treasure them.
Inarguably, these are the years of high demands; the endless arguments, diapers, crying, and fevers. The weeks and months of clutter and fingerprints scattered about every living space. But they are also the nurturing years. The shaping years. The years most ripe with opportunity to transmit truth. And if we aren’t intentional, they will slip by before we realize it.
So how can we be intentional about sharing Jesus with our children during this foundational time? We assume reading bible stories, praying or singing Sunday school songs are the only ways we can teach truth to them. And certainly, they are vastly important! But our reach does not end there. I suspect that our everyday interactions will shape our children even more than those isolated teaching moments. Which is why we must find a way to saturate the ordinary moments of our day with extraordinary gospel truths. Meeting their needs is a great starting point.
This season, brimming over with all of our children’s needs, is fertile soil for planting gospel seeds.
Here are a few ways I’m learning to articulate God’s truth through my little one’s needs:
Sharing the Gospel through Quality Time
We communicate the gospel to our children every time we lay down our own desires and agendas for quality time with them.
Maybe we set aside a basket of unfolded laundry to play “dinosaurs” with our preschooler. Or we read their favorite story five times, instead of flicking through our phone for the latest news.
These things seem trivial, but they are not. Listening to our children, getting down on their level, making eye contact, laughing and crying with them. All of these choices shout one thing loudly:
I am with you!
One of the most dear and precious attributes of Jesus is His desire to dwell with us. He abandoned the splendor and perfection of heaven to be nearer to us on this broken and troubled planet.
When we abandon our own desires and sprawl across the floor playing dinosaurs, we speak a meaningful language to them. We say without words, “You are valuable, and I want to be with you.” Often, we can just enjoy this closeness with them and trust that God will use it to grow the relationship.
Other times, we might want to tell them how, just like we are near, God longs to be near too. We can describe how our sin separated us from Him and what it cost Him to draw us near again. We can tell them about how we can draw near to Jesus through song, bible reading and prayer.
Undivided attention, even for five minutes at a time, is something we have an opportunity to give our children nearly every day. And it’s a powerful thing.
Sharing the Gospel Through Comfort
Sometimes, the tears and emotions our kids display seem completely out of proportion. My son spent a good ten minutes crying today because his sister got to wash her hands first after an art project. Though we can’t soothe every heartache a child has, we have a great number of opportunities to offer comfort. And offering comfort, even for things that don’t make sense to us, is a meaningful way to plant another gospel seed.
The God of the universe is tender, compassionate, and unfailing in His mercy toward us. If we are honest we must admit that, just like our children, we get sad, angry and frustrated about insignificant things. Yet even in our most raw, unrefined hours, He draws near to us, pulling us into His powerful embrace. Indeed He comforts us in all our afflictions,
We can portray God’s mercy to our children the same way. They need to know we are near and that they are heard. Furthermore, in their pain, they may be able to hear truths about God’s love that would otherwise evade them. Could it be possible that, while resting in our arms as their tears fall, they will long in a new way for Jesus’ future promise to end all suffering? Could they, through our own gentleness, catch a glimpse of this “Man of sorrows,” who perfectly understands and cares for them?
Undoubtedly, we parents are graced with dozens of opportunities to show this nurturing grace to our children daily.
Sharing Jesus Through Correction
Like it or not, it’s a rare day that passes without our children requiring a vast amount of correction. I’ll be the first to admit that I often miss the meaning of discipline and jump straight to managing ‘bad’ behavior. It’s tempting to forget that ‘good’ behavior isn’t the goal because, when achieved, our homes become peaceful. But getting beneath behavior to reach the hearts of our children is the actual goal of discipline.
In the course of just one day, we might encounter defiance, aggression, arguing, lying, tantrums and other forms of disobedience. Despite our frustration, these are the times we can ask God for the strength and wisdom to respond, and not simply react. We can ask Him, “Lord, what is happening in my child’s heart right now? Could it be that they are struggling with anger or fear? With jealousy or disappointment? Is it discontentment, selfishness, or unforgiveness? When we get to the source of the problem we can apply both grace and truth by:
- Sharing about times we’ve struggled similarly and how we’ve worked through it
- Praying with them for healing and a desire to obey
- Affirming our love for them despite their misbehavior.
- Reminding them that we have their good in mind, just as God does
- Administering a fair consequence when one is needed
When we excavate the bigger reasons behind misbehavior, we discover those deeper solutions found only in Christ.
Of course, there are many other opportunities for us to show our children the beauty of the gospel in our everyday lives! But sharing through quality time, comfort, and correction are a few ways I’m exploring right now. What about you? What ways have you found to transform ordinary life moments into extraordinary gospel opportunities?
For More on Parenting: https://totsandtidbits.org/parent-with-compassion/