As imperfect mamas we tend to pendulum between two ways of relating to our children. We often unintentionally treat our children as either inconveniences or idols. But God calls us to a radically different way of relating to our children: to offer our parenting as an act of worship to Him. What do I mean? Check out the following scenarios.
You are attempting (for the fourth time) to wash last night’s dinner dishes as well as the new breakfast dishes. You just turned on the faucet again when your toddlers begin screaming in the playroom. You cringe, wait, sigh, shut off the water, stomp to the playroom and begin yelling at your children to stop fighting.
You accusatorily complain to your husband how exhausted you are because the baby ate three times last night. Will you ever get an uninterrupted night of sleep?
You recently decided that your child relies too heavily on you to find things for him, so the next time he comes seeking help you shame him about how helpless he’s acting.
You get the picture. In each instance, the child needs “parenting,” but the timing is inconvenient. In the moment, you elevate your want above their need: task completion rather than training, grumbling rather than sacrifice, and anger rather than guidance. In the moment, you fail to value your children as “a heritage from the Lord” Psalm 127:3. Your heart prefers self-worship rendering your child an inconvenience or an obstacle to achieving what you desire.
Consider a different set of scenarios. You are missing church for the third time this month because your child has another soccer tournament out of town.
You watch your son violently push another child over in the nursery but merely laugh and excuse “boys will be boys.”
You don’t make your daughter wash her greasy hair to avoid the sure-fire tantrum that would certainly ensue.
You avoid serving at church because it would mess up your child’s nap schedule.
You get the idea. In each situation, you’ve allowed the child’s wants to be elevated over spiritual needs: competition trumps faithful church attendance; cultural norms justify misbehavior; schedules dictate ministry; decisions are weighed against backlash. Your flipped priorities result in the worship and service of “the creature rather than the Creator” Romans 1:25. You heart engages in other-worship elevating your child as an idol on your heart’s throne. Accordingly, your decisions are weighed against your child’s perceived wants or needs.
There is a better way. Your child needn’t be an inconvenience nor an idol dictating your heart’s decisions. Your child can be what God intended: a valued image-bearer who takes a back seat to the Creator. In essence, as we are rightly related to our Creator-God, we are rightly related to His image-bearing creation (Genesis 1:27).
As mothers, we must fight to keep God pre-eminent and allow Him (not us, not our children) to dictate and motivate our decisions. When we treasure Christ, we value our children and seek to direct their hearts to their heritage in the Garden. We fervently pray for them and often pray together with them. We delight in conversing about God with them around the table, in the car, at church or at play. We patiently offer correction and use the moment to reveal their need for grace. We do not shame them but point them to the one who took our shame and bore our grief on Calvary. We esteem Christ and sacrificially serve our children even as Christ sacrificed Himself for us. We offer up the helm of our heart to God-worship and invite our children, as His image-bearers, to do the same.