God didn’t call us to control our child’s every decision. Our God-given parenting mission is to make disciples who follow Him. How, then, do we parent our children as they grow to live God-honoring lives while also honoring their God-given differences?
In 1 Peter, the apostle writes to the elders of the early church. We, as moms, are elders too! God has entrusted us with our own little churches or— our own little flocks. Peter’s exhortation is a word of wisdom to all of us.
He says, “…shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock” (1 Pe. 5: 2-3 ESV, emphasis mine).
In short, we can shepherd well by:
1. Exercising oversight (not control). This is what God does with us. He gives us guidelines to live within, but also gives us freedom to make our own decisions.
2. Loving our children more than we love ourselves. Nothing reveals how selfish we are, as humans, faster than becoming a parent. Allowing our children to make decisions often means risking our own reputation, happiness, and comfort. When we love them, we care more for their long-term growth than our own short-term gain.
3. Being living examples. One of my favorite sayings is “what they see is what they’ll be.” How do you follow the Father? Do you seek His will for every area of your life? Are you enslaved to fear of what others may think or free to “keep in step with the Spirit?” (Gal. 5:25)
Peter’s following words provide two powerful keys to living this out: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7 ESV, emphasis mine).
First, we must be humble. We must admit that mother doesn’t always know best, but God always does and that we are incapable of shepherding well without the grace and wisdom He provides.
Second, we must cast all our anxieties on Him. Do you know what is at the root of control? Fear. What potential outcome are you worried about? Release it into the Father’s hands. He loves our children even more than we do, and is holding their life in His capable hands.
Spend a few minutes admitting any areas where you have crossed over into control. Identify the fear at the root and give it over to God. Thank God for your child’s unique design and ask Him for increased grace to shepherd them well.
“He tends his flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” Isaiah 40:11 (NIV)
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