From my interaction with parents, many are asking, “Parenting is hard enough, why then add to it the responsibility of Spiritual Parenting?” Sadly, parenting has been reduced to mostly providing for the child’s needs such as food, clothing, shelter, and education. (I’m sure you are not one of them.) Many parents have expressed to me how they wish they could have a less stressful job, a job which they truly enjoy doing; but for the sake of their children they have to toil on. I know of a few parents who, now that their children are grown, are able to be more involved in Christian service such as going on Mission trips. How sad indeed. How much more their children would have benefited if they had done that while their children were younger and growing up.
I have come to see that Parenting is spiritual in nature, like it or not, because we are caring not just for the body but also for the soul and spirit. Joseph, Jesus’ father, obviously did a good job in parenting because in Luke 2:52 we are told the Jesus “advanced in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man”. “In wisdom and stature” speaks of the mental, intellectual, emotional and spiritual aspects of Jesus’ development as well as the physiological. It was the proper development of His soul and spirit that gained Him favor with God and with men.
Spiritual Parenting is more than bringing your children to church and having Family Devotions at home or saying grace before meals. It is about disciplining your children in love and righteousness, knowing that they were conceived in sin and brought forth in iniquity (Psa 51:5). In other words, their innate inclination to sin will be their decline unless parents do something about it.
In an article, J Warner Wallace, author of Cold Case Christianity, assets that we should stop teaching our kids and start training them. When I was reading this article, Proverbs 22:6 came to mind. It does say to “train up a child” and not teach a child. And testing is part of the training process. Don’t believe me? Just look at how God dealt with Israel, His firstborn son (Ex 4:22). After giving them His laws and statutes and ordinances, God made them wander in the wilderness for forty years so as to humble them; test them to see what was in their hearts; and made them hunger and fed them with manna so that they would know that “man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD” (Deut 8:1-3). To put it bluntly, God provided them with manna so that they would be alive to learn the lessons God wanted to teach them.
My elder daughter’s faith has been tested many times particularly in the last three years. It is now my son’s turn to be tested. I reminded him that his name is Jabez and urged him to start praying the Jabez Prayer: “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.”
Here’s another reason why parenting is in itself spiritual in nature. Soon after birth, the parents gives a name to the child. Like it or not, the child’s destiny is set by this simple act. It is therefore not advisable to choose your child’s name carelessly. In the Bible, God changed the names of a few people: Abram to Abraham, Jacob to Israel, Simon to Peter, and Saul to Paul. With the change of names came the change of destiny as well. Much time was spent in prayer before I decided on what names to give to my children. Today, the two older ones are walking towards their God-given destinies according to the names given them.