roles of parenting [This is an excerpt from a sermon preached on June 9th, 2013.] 

It’s probably no surprise if I tell you that virtually anything could be outsourced as a parent. Anything that is essential to your job as a parent, anything that you feel is integral to what it means for you to parent your child, any of those things could be outsourced.  If you wanted to give up the first year of your kid’s life – because we all know how exhausting the infant years can be – you could give up the thousands of diapers, the sleepless nights figuring out if your kid’s sick or if they’re teething, figuring out why they’re crying, the burping, the cuddling, the swaddling – if you wanted to, you could outsource that. For $170,000.00, you could find a professional to come in and handle it all for you. You’d never have to change a diaper during that first year.

Now, maybe that’s a bit extreme. So, maybe we’d tame it down a notch. Let’s say child-proofing overwhelms you. The idea of crawling around your housing, going to every nook and cranny, and trying to figure out which areas of your house are the most unsafe. You could hire a child-proofing consultant to come in and let you know which electrical outlets really need to be covered up, to let you know that the Drano should be locked up, and the medicine cabinet out of reach. For $1,000.00, somebody would come in and be happy to share with you what should be done to keep your child safe. If you had a child who struggled with thumb sucking – that, for a while, was cute, but now they’ve gone beyond the cute stage of thumb sucking – you could hire a thumb sucking guru from the city of Chicago to fly in and provide their consulting services. For $40,000.00, they would be happy to let you know how to correct this problem, and even throw in two phone consultations for no extra charge.

And the young years are hard and cause a lot of sleeplessness, but as you’re kids get older, you start to lose sleep for all kinds of other reasons. Don’t you? If you wanted, you could outsource discipline, teaching your kids to respect your authority, teaching them manners. In fact, there is such a thing as etiquette experts. In The New York Times, a journalist said,

“Etiquette experts say that new approaches are needed because parents no longer have the stomach, time, or know-how to play bad cop and teach manners. Parents no longer have the stomach, the time, or the know-how."

And so, this key job of teaching etiquette, discipline, teaching authority can be outsourced to somebody else. We can outsource throwing our kids’ birthday parties and buying our kids’ birthday gifts. Anything that is the job of the parent could be outsourced to somebody else who claims to be an expert or a professional.

And while we talk about these things, and while we list these things, many of them may be disturbing to think about, many of us do this very same thing when it comes to the spiritual influence in the lives of our children. Many of us have relied on an hour-and-a-half on a weekend to be the complete sum of the spiritual development of our kids. Now don’t misunderstand me, what we do when we gather is important. What the children’s ministry does on a Sunday is very important. And what the student ministry does is very important. But it is nothing compared to the lifetime that you spend with your kids, teaching, shepherding and influencing them. There is no greater spiritual influence in the lives of your kids than you are as parents.

Sitting, walking, lying down, and getting up

In Deuteronomy 6, Moses is preaching to the nation of Israel and says:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

When you sit down, when you walk along the road, when you lie down, when you get up. What Moses realizes, and what Moses is trying to preach to the nation of Israel is that this is an all-of-life kind of thing. It’s not a once-you-have-time-for-it kind of thing. It’s not if-we-can-fit-it-into-our-busy-schedules kind of thing; it’s an all-of-life. It’s about building our kids’ relationship, their love for God with their heart, with their soul, with their mind. And he doesn’t list out all the things that they need to squeeze into their life. Instead, he lists their schedule.

He says, “When you sit, when you walk along the road, when you lie down, when you get up.” He doesn’t list new things for them to start doing. He lists things that they’re already doing, and he says just think differently about the things that you’re doing and use those to impress these on the lives of your kids.

As Christian families, God desires that all of our life, the times when we’re in the Scriptures and the times when we’re going to the baseball game, to be all about Jesus. It’s very easy to have opinions about what being a Christian should look like on a Sunday morning. But what does it look like to be a Christian family at dinnertime? And what does it look like to be a Christian family on Tuesday, on the way home from baseball? Or on Wednesday, when your daughter tells you about the boy who broke her heart? Or on Thursday, when you’re packing up your son or daughter to go off to college?

Your little church

The preacher, Jonathan Edwards, said, “Every Christian family ought to be as it were a little church.”

In your homes, in your little churches, what would it look like if everything we did was shaped by what was actually most important? Because as Christians, we believe that Jesus lived the perfect life that none of us could ever live. And that by his death, he paid a price that none of us could pay. And by his resurrection, he conquered sin, death, and the devil. And if we believe that that changed our lives, shouldn’t it actually change the way we live? If we believe that we were slaves to sin, but now we’ve been made sons and daughters of God, shouldn’t that change the way we relate to our sons and daughters. And Moses says, “Talk about this. Talk about this when you sit at home, when you walk along the road, when you lie down, and when you get up.”

I will continue posting excerpts from this sermon; to listen or watch the sermon online - check it out.