Your children belong to God, not you. He is the one who made them, and He has a purpose that you may only dimly be aware of. Let Him bring about that purpose in His way. Your job is to prepare them for that purpose.

     Think of yourself as a steward. The Lord has entrusted these precious lives into your care. For a short while you will be all they know. You get to have fun with them and share in their joy of discovery. But they don’t belong to you. You must look after them and encourage them; you must protect them, even from yourself and your own prejudices. You must take them into your lap and read to them, and nurture a love of learning that will endure. You must pour your love into them so that they can be strong and self-sufficient and not needy. You must encourage their interests, and sacrifice to fund those interests, even if you don’t fully understand them.

     And when you show them what is wrong, you must do it kindly. There must be instruction in discipline, otherwise it is mere punishment. Doesn’t a loving Lord treat you with kindness when He disciplines you? You must treat your children the same. And if you must spank them – and that must be a last resort – it cannot be in anger. Control your own behaviour, before you attempt to control theirs. And you must hold them afterwards and tell them that you love them and that you earnestly desire them to make a better choice next time. There will come a time when they will have to make those choices without your guidance.

     And you must model what you want them to be, and discipline yourself so that you become that person. Don’t indulge yourself and give in to your excesses. And you must set aside your resources for them, so they are not overburdened financially as they set out in life. You are a steward of God; these are His precious children, and He commands you to treat them as His. You are to set yourself aside so that your children can have what you cannot. This is what it means to be a parent.

     Nobody sets out to be a parent with these things in mind; otherwise none of us would ever start. But you must let God remake your heart and reorder your priorities as you come to understand His greater will in bringing children into your life. It is a huge responsibility, and a huge privilege. I’ll conclude these thoughts tomorrow.