Parenting and Teaching Our Children In Grace

I had the privilege of speaking to the parents of our Classical, University Model school today, in preparation for the upcoming school year of co-teaching in the home. I'm sharing an excerpt of my talk with you today:

Grace-filled parenting is gospel-centered parenting. God dealt grace to us on the Cross. Grace-filled parenting is modeling that grace in the way we train up our children, and in the substance of what we are training them with. Grace-filled parenting remembers that God forgave us, and patiently corrected us in our foolishness. Grace-filled parenting follows Christ's example of love: based on His character, not how loveable we are. The highest goal of grace-filled, gospel-centered parenting, is to lead our children to true repentance, salvation, and a fervent love for the Lord.

If we took out the word “Grace”, and put in the word Law, how would that change our parenting. What does "law-filled parenting" look like? How about "works-filled parenting"? Works, or legalism, relies on our own efforts, on the good we think we can produce, and is ultimately the opposite of godly obedience.

Grace-filled parenting seeks to see a child formed by the grace of God, to BE transformed by the renewing of his mind. Work-based parenting seeks to convince a child to simply behave, to APPEAR righteous outwardly.

As parents who teach in the home, we do not remove our parent hat to put on our teacher hat. We've taken on a model that affirms that educating our children is an extension of our role as parents; that there is no better person than a parent, to form a child's mind and worldview. If this is such a high calling, then why is it so difficult to embrace it with joy at all times?

The answer is simply this: we are imperfect parents and we have imperfect children. As such, our days as co-teacher will be marked by unique moments of intimacy and laughter with our children, but also the difficult times of disobedience and correction. Grace-filled parenting is hard work.

What often stands in the way of us being grace-filled and joyful parents? Here are some of mine:

•My treasuring perfection, more than the Perfector.

•My prioritizing comfort over our calling.

•My placing more value on the product than on process.

•My temptation to compare rather than be content.

Don’t these, again, resonate very much with works-filled, rather than grace-filled parenting? You can see how, as parents, we often think we parent with Grace but ultimately we uphold the Law. We understand that we are saved by the work of the Cross, and not our own perfection when it comes to the work of salvation, but when we enter the realm of parenting, we are tempted to return our allegiance to legalism in the training and teaching of our children.

We understand that merely going through the motions, checking off the list, and securing approval does not make us holy or justified, but how quickly we turn to subtle forms of manipulation, guilt, and demands for performance, in order to get our children to behave and do as we think they ought. We often turn to the same means in educating our children. In the same way that sanctification is the work of God in progress-- ultimately producing fruit that is visible from the overflow of our hearts, teaching our children is a journey whose success is not measured by straight A's, perfect behavior, or being the best at something; it is a process by which our children (and their parents) learn to express wisdom and knowledge through the formation of the inner man.

As we begin a new year in teaching our children, let us not simply think of our instruction as "academic." Let us not be tempted to "check off the list." God is at work IN us and THROUGH us to bring our children to the likeness of Him. The Grace of God, not the self-reliant adherence to the Law, is what transforms.