real encouragement for real homeschooling moms

instructing our children in life purpose ~ grace in parenting part four

This week, as I have studied through the book of 2 Timothy, I have been considering the difference between instruction and exhortation. Paul, as the older, spiritual father to Timothy, has many words of wisdom for the younger man and shares his concerns, admonitions, and warnings. In some instances he states directly what he expects Timothy to do. In other verses he encourages Timothy to make wise decisions that come from an inward depth of character as he goes about fulfilling his role as the young pastor.

As I have looked at this passage of Scripture, I believe Paul’s relationship with Timothy and his methods of mentoring are a good example for parenting as we seek to exhort and instruct our own children. I also think that one of the secrets of parenting our children by grace is to understand the difference between the two, particularly as we help them embrace their purpose in life as well as the individual callings the Lord gives to them.

From the very earliest days of toddlerhood, we must instill in our children the truth that they are created for one purpose alone, to bring glory to God. The children’s catechism states so sweetly “Who made you? God made me. What else did God make? God made me and all things. Why did God make you and all things? For His own glory.” These words should be on the lips of little ones early and often. (Baptist catechism and Presbyterian catechism)

As our children become older and their understanding of God grows, it is our job to show them, both in word and in deed, what this means. We read to them Psalm 139, showing them how perfectly and mysteriously they were knit together in the womb, reminding them that God created them in his image (Genesis 1) and were chosen to be His before the foundation of the world. (Ephesians 1)

We take them through the pages of the Old Testament, introducing them to the heroes of the faith who were committed to bringing glory to God, not omitting their failures but rather instructing our children in God’s grace and mercy. And as we do this, how important it is to share with them our own failures and struggles along our own faith journey.

As we spend time with them reading the Gospels and the Epistles of the New Testament, we can begin to lead them into a deeper understanding of discipleship and what it means for them to love God and their neighbors, how their choices in life will reflects their one purpose of glorifying God.

Our curriculum for this is Isaiah 46: 9-10; “Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please” and Psalm 33:10- 11: “The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” Our children can have the sure promise that God will accomplish that purpose.”

In commenting on a child’s purpose in life, author Tim Kimmel reminds parents that their children have only two choices, to follow Christ or not, to be Christians or not. Because they are spiritual by nature, being created in God’s image, they will seek to serve someone or something. Here are his thoughts:

“ Children are spiritual…Yet some parents, through their ignorance or denial of its existence, (or thatmom adds, through bad theology or following manmade teachings) leave their children starved, illiterate, and unhealthy when it comes to spiritual matters. “Bob Dylan summed up this point in a song he wrote:

“You may be an ambassador to England or France,
You may like to gamble, you might like to dance,
You may be the heavyweight champion of the world,
You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

“We’ve got to make sure we get Dylan’s point. Your children have two choices and only two choices….Neutrality is not an option. No one is the captain of his or her own fate.” (Tim Kimmel, Grace-Based Parenting)

Instructing your children that their purpose is to spend their lives glorifying God is the first half of two sides of the coin. Tomorrow I will talk about the other side, that of exhorting our children as they discover their individual callings from the Lord.


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