While my title sounds like a promotion for student ministry in the local church, it isn’t. Do we need student ministry excellence in our local churches? Absolutely, and I have given my entire career to that endeavor. In reality, student ministry and parenting are the sole and the laces of the same shoe. I am also not talking about raising a great family so society will adopt a healthy contribution of skills and habits via your children. I am not even talking about raising great kids that we enjoy and promote. No, what I believe the bible mandates for believing parents is raising kids in partnership with the church with a goal of witnessing the God of the universe advance His Kingdom through the family. Does that include raising great kids? Hopefully! Does that include building a great family? I think God is pleased when we strive for that! But more than eliminating conflict. . . more than having a quiet dinner without drama . . . more than enjoying a tranquil life around the house. . . more than becoming the starting athlete, first-chair, or valedictorian, is raising and releasing the disciples God has entrusted to your care, your children. Nowhere in Gods word is family promoted for accomplishing any higher priority. Our FAMILY is about ADVANCING the GOSPEL. Does that sound a bit weird?
That’s not to say our family will experience one or the other, but rather a first and highest priority that dictates and directs everything we pursue.
A common viewing of parenting goes sort of like this:
OK, I have this child. This is my time to nail it! What my parents did well, I will retain. What my parents did poorly, I will improve. I will give my child the best life I can build, the easiest life I can afford, and the most fulfilling life I can offer. I will strive to make their life happy, fulfilling, and comfortable as I can, and I will do it using Christian principles along the way.
Now admittedly this sounds noble, acceptable and diligent. But that is only the tip of the iceberg. Those are subordinate outcomes compared to the high calling of Christ on you as a Parent.
Are you willing to shift your thinking towards parenting? If we see our role as I just described, then we are likely to succumb to a culturally shaped “me” centered model for parenting. But, the bible teaches that we are to view parenting more like the role of training up warriors, fighting for the fame of the coming King, and advancing His system of living by establishing a family (outpost) so to speak, an outpost defended by the supernatural calling and power of God and using the arrows in our quivers (children) while looking for ways to rescue the lost souls He places in our path (school, teams, clubs, hobbies, etc.) We are to be warrior centered.
Isiah 42:6-7 expresses our mission like this:
“I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, 7 to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.”
So, Gods design for parents, for family is for us to join Him in His global mission in rescuing those in darkness, those held captive by the darkness, those who live ordinary, dark, wandering lives with superficial purpose, temporary peace, and no hope for eternity.
So, we must build our families for the right purpose, through His power, and for His Glory.
This is how Psalms 127 says it:
1 Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. 2 In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat for he grants sleep to[a] those he loves. 3 Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. 4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. 5 Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.
Why does the bible not simply declare your children are your responsibility and leave it at that. Why not just declare the importance of building your home on a Godly foundation and leave the application up to us. Why does He deliberately add the military metaphors into the job? Why does He illustrate with bold military brush strokes rather than gentle pastel colors. He compares children to arrows in a quiver of a warrior for a purpose. And . . . I think that purpose is to point us towards thinking more like a family training camp preparing its members for cultural battles of evil, for tearing down strong holds of darkness, and establishing outposts of light. He leans much more towards the raising hearts of tender warriors than He does promoting the laid-back attitude of a Caribbean cruise.
Wherever you find yourself along the journey of parenting, take heart. It does not matter how in sync you desire to be in applying Biblical parenting, you are going to make mistakes. Every parent has regrets, every parent has failures, and every parent who strives towards building a Godly family will see all his or her failures redeemed for His glory – redeemed in supernatural ways that we can’t even imagine. He is faithful and only by His might will we raise kids and release them like arrows aimed at the schemes of Satan, at advancing the Kingdom, at defending, defeating, and celebrating to the Glory of God.
II Corinthians 2: 14-16 says it this way . . . “But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. 15 Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. 16 To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?”
So parenting, is the responsibility of raising up a crew of missional rescue warriors in the outpost we call family with impactful and well-trained warriors. So lets help our kids “put on the full armor of God “ and make them aware that “The weapons of war are not of flesh and blood but are of divine power to destroy strongholds” that they may be able to“Share in the suffering of a good soldier”, training to become “good soldiers” that “you might wage good warfare” and know that one day your children can say . . . because my parents were diligent towards my faith journey, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith“.
The WAR ROOM Challenge:
A. Go to your kids’ rooms and pray over their bed, their memorabilia, their pictures, posters, clothes, etc. If they have a vehicle, pray over it too.
B. Go to a parking lot in view of their school or university and pray over their school, the administrators, teachers, professors, coaches, etc. If that is not practical or possible, then pull it up online and pray at your computer.
Remember . . . arrows:
- Are to be sharpened and ready.
- Are meant to be used, not a perpetual compliment or accent piece for the bow or quiver.
- Are mean to be released!
A Parents Prayer: Lord help me to know your plan for our outpost. Grant me the insight to build a mighty fortress for your Kingdom mission. Lead us to obey you, prioritize you, and make our homes the rescue mission you desire as custodians of your Gospel. Lead me to raise persuaders of the Gospel, defenders of the faith, strong and bold tender warriors, fully prepared for your Kingdom service. Give me the courage and wisdom to parent according to your word and give me the strength and trust to release them into your mission.