Welcome to my daughter’s Mothering book club, her weekly discussion of The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child’s Heart for Eternity.
Anna begins, “I hope that you are taking time each week to read through the chapter and let Sally’s insights sink deep down. After each chapter, I find myself inspired to take my role as a mother more seriously and prayerfully!
Let’s begin now with Chapter 5, The Discipling Mother…
“I had to chuckle at Sally’s description of a visit to the home of a “lovely, accomplished Christian friend”, in which she spent the entire time comparing her own children to those of her hostess. Her friend’s children had impeccable manners, wore nice clothes, were very accomplished and even had great haircuts! As the visit progressed, Sally found herself feeling worse and worse about her own mothering and by the time she left, she had a lengthy mental list of things she was going to “start working on” with her kids right away!
We’ve all been there, haven’t we?
I know that many times, I’ve felt that same pressure when I’ve been with families who seem more “with it” than our family.
As moms, one of our greatest desires is for our children to be happy. In many ways, that’s how we were designed – we have a strong drive to protect, nurture and comfort our children. We want to provide them with everything they need to be successful.
Yet, often times we allow the myriad of deafening voices out in the world to tell us what that success should look like, instead of letting God tell us what really matters.
Let’s go back and look at one of the passages of scripture in which God gives us a glimpse of what is important to Him:
“Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the LORD. – Jeremiah 9:23-24
Isn’t it amazing that today, over 2,000 years later, people still seek success through these same three areas – the intellect; power and status; and riches?
What about us? Do we let ourselves get sucked into the world’s definition of success? Do we think that if only we can choose the right curriculum or get our children into the right school/college, they will have a great life? If only we can earn enough money to make our children “fit in” with their peers, then they will feel at peace? If our children would display wonderful manners, we could actually be a “good witness” to others?
The reality is that no matter how we try to control these external factors, each of us will fall short. No matter how we try to control life, we cannot make it behave. And pursuing only these worldly goals has a diminishing effect on us as mothers as well as on our children. Comparing ourselves to others and all they have will almost inevitably cause us to focus on the shortcomings of our families instead of progressing in truly important areas. (p. 83)
So, what is the most important thing to focus on?
God does not look on the externals; He is most concerned about the state of the heart. Therefore, it makes sense that our primary job as parents is to focus on our children’s heart attitudes.
Sally offers four areas that we can focus on as we strive to reach our children’s hearts.
Jesus developed the hearts of His followers by spending time with them – instructing, advising them, and modeling right behavior. He spoke with them one-on-one and in small groups. He included them in His ministry and in His daily life.
Compare that with how we try to reach children’s hearts today. Often we value activity (busyness) over long-term personal relationships. Again, I think this stems from our desire as moms for the very best for our children. We don’t want them to miss out on anything!!
But as Sally says:
All of the going in the world will not make us or our children spiritually deep or alive. It is only by coming to the living God and developing intimacy with Him that we will really draw near in our hearts to Christ.
Signing up our children up for every “spiritual” activity or organization may or may not make any difference in them developing a heart for God. Giving them time with someone (that’s you!) who knows and loves God, however, will make a tremendous one.
Intentional instruction in God’s Word is crucial to developing our children’s hearts for God. We cannot expect our children to know the truth or how to behave or how to think until they know what the Bible actually says.
There is no easy way around teaching Scripture. It takes dedication and time. No amount of “quality videos” or Bible-themed crafts can replace plain and simple instruction from the Word.
Although it may seem daunting, it can be done. In this chapter, Sally offers some practical suggestions on how to incorporate Biblical instruction into the day with young children by way of storytelling, memorization, and family devotions.
Although at first glance it may seem like it, training and instruction are not the same thing.
Training is the practical application of a learned truth to actual life.
Training involves helping our children to form “pathways” of thought and action and often involves confrontation. Are we willing to risk the unpleasantness associated with training our children in the interest of their growth in righteousness?
There are various methods for training and discipline, but we must always remember to exercise our training with love and patience.
Sally mentions that one of the main tools they used in their family was to teach their children the Clarkson’s “24 Family Ways”. You may recall me mentioning a few months back that Dan and I have used the Clarkson’s Ways in our own family. Though it is not a formula for parenting, it has been a very useful tool for us to use as we try to train our children in the ways they should go.
This might be the most controversial segment of Chapter 5, because people tend to be unbalanced one way or the other in regards to guarding their children’s influences. I believe that Sally offers a balanced approach to this topic when she says that young children need protection and guidance from outside forces that would threaten their future growth.
The thing is, there is no formula for exactly how to go about this, especially in this exceptionally perverse generation that we live in. It is one of those areas where we have to take each and every step by faith coupled with lots of prayer.
Sally reminds us that while we work toward guarding our children from ungodly influences, we need to also give them access to positive influences and also opportunities to have compassion on others who live by different standards than we do.
This chapter is a tall order! It’s almost overwhelming when I think about it.
And yet, I know that if I am following after God every hour, He will provide everything I need to raise my children. Because in reality, they are His children.
If would like to visit my daughter’s blog page, you can find a treasure source of inspiration here at WhereMyTreasureIs.