Spiritual Parenting

If you’re around The Crossing for any length of time, or for that matter, spend much time reading this blog, you’re bound to notice that we place a high priority on equipping parents to raise their kids in a biblical way. So we regularly feature teaching and resources toward that end. Certainly, no parent can take advantage of all of it all. But since (1) you’ll likely be a parent for some time and (2) your kids are the most important ministry you have, it makes sense to take regular opportunities to mature in the role.

With that said, thanks to my wife, Rachel, for reviewing a resource that’s already had quite an impact in our own home. The following was originally posted at our sister blog, Leaving a Legacy.
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Dear Dads and Moms: If you pick up one parenting book this year, I would suggest Spiritual Parenting. I’ve been reading and rereading it this past year and am consistently encouraged, convicted, and challenged as a parent as a result. This book has also influenced our Crossing Kids staff team in how we think about teaching and ministering to the children God has placed in our ministry. Here’s why…

“What is my end goal in raising each of the children God has entrusted to me, and then how will I parent them with that end in mind?” This is the core question Michelle Anthony, the author of Spiritual Parenting, wants each parent to ask. Her thesis: “The goal of spiritual parenting is that our children would learn to hear and know God’s voice, desire to obey it, and obey it in the power of God’s Spirit, not their own strength.”

Spiritual Parenting goes beyond a “how to” parenting book. Through honest personal stories and clear biblical teaching, Anthony paints a compelling big picture of a parent’s God-given role. She calls parents to depend on God for their children’s spiritual growth while cultivating 10 environments in their home that foster a heart-transforming faith. “If we believe that the Holy Spirit is God’s chosen teacher in our children’s hearts and that He is the one who causes spiritual growth…, then we must be willing to cultivate environments for Him to do this work,” Anthony writes.

These home environments, which are fleshed out in each chapter and frankly have changed the way I think about parenting, include:

1. Storytelling – Exposes children to the Big God Story. This gives them an awe-inspiring perspective into how God has been moving throughout history and is creating even our own unique story for his glory.

2. Identity – Focuses on who we are in Christ, according to Ephesians 1. An understanding of their true identity helps children stand firm against the myriad of false-identities waiting to seduce them in the world.

3. Faith Community – Helps children see the importance of living life with, worshiping with, and learning from others who are following Him.

4. Service – Cultivates a heart that asks, “What needs to be done?” and helps kids to view their lives as living sacrifices that we generously give away.

5. Out of the Comfort Zone – Inspires a generation to seek not comfort but a radical life of faith in Christ.

6. Responsibility – Enables children to take ownership of their lives, gifts, resources, and relationships before God.

7. Course Correction (Discipline) – Fleshes out Hebrews 12:11-13 and a grace-driven vision for biblical discipline of a child.

8. Love and Respect – Recognizes that children need an environment of love and respect in order to be free to both receive and give God’s grace.

9. Knowing – As we, through personally knowing God, create an environment that upholds and displays God’s truth, we give children the assurance of being known by God through a relationship with Him in Christ.

10. Modeling – Biblical content needs to be expressed in practical living in order for it to make a difference spiritually. Knowing is the “who” while Modeling is the “how.”

Now creating not one, not two, but 10 environments seems overwhelming, right? As I read each chapter, I felt like I had significant ways to grow in each one of these areas. Fortunately, Anthony does a great job of reminding parents again and again that it’s not about us. It’s about God. Our role is from God, and He wants to equip us and help us grow as spiritual parents as we seek Him.

One of the ways I use this book is to periodically read a chapter during my devotional times with God in the morning. It’s been helpful to re-read, journal about, and pray about several portions of the book and how they apply to my family.

The book appropriately ends with a simple prayer that you and I can make our own today: “I am Yours. Our home is Yours. These children are Yours. Be glorified! Amen.”

P.S. The Women’s Ministry is running the Spiritual Parenting DVD Curriculum as a Bible study on Tuesday mornings and Wednesday nights from the week of September 12 through November 14. Registration is August 14 – September 4. Here’s a teaser video.

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