Hoping or Helping
One of the greatest joys of my life has been the privilege of being a father. God, in His goodness, has blessed my wife and me with two precious boys. Along with this honor, however, has come tremendous responsibility as well as joy. Like most parents, we find ourselves making our boys the topic of many of our conversations with others. We share their latest developments, funny stories, and even parenting challenges.
Very recently, I was speaking with a friend about the hopes and dreams that my wife and I have for our children. I made this statement to him: “I hope my children grow up to love and serve the Lord with their lives.” Truly, the desire of my heart is to see my children grow up to be passionate followers of Jesus Christ. When the conversation ended, I began to ponder what I had said.
- Yes, I hope my children do right.
- Yes, I hope my children live for God.
- Yes, I hope my children become young people of character and integrity.
- Yes, I hope my children serve the Lord.
- Yes, I hope my children become hard-working individuals.
- Yes, I hope my children grow to be young men of morals and values.
Yet I had to ask myself, “What am I doing now to help my children be what I hope they will become?”
In working with teenagers and parents these past eight years, I am fully persuaded that every Christian parent hopes that his teenager does what is right in the eyes of God. My fear is that there is a lot of hoping and very little helping.
Many parents have transferred the role that is Biblically theirs to the pastor, youth pastor, or school teacher and then sit back and hope that the qualities their children are being taught outside of the home produce the results that they want to see. Parents, we must take the role that God has given us and begin laboring to train those qualities now in our children.
A familiar verse that we often use in parenting is Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” The word train means to form by instruction, discipline, or drill. This verse has helped me to understand that I need to be a helping parent, not just a hoping parent.
Ephesians 6:4 carries the same idea: “…bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Again, the charge that is given to us implies that we are to do more than simply hope that our young people live for God.
Notice these differences:
- A hoping parent hopes his child lives for God; the helping parent prays his child lives for God.
- A hoping parent hopes his child develops character; the helping parent sees character weaknesses and then, with the child, helps strengthen the character that is lacking.
- A hoping parent hopes his child lives purely; the helping parent will talk about purity, teach how to be pure, and then set up boundaries to help the child to be pure.
- A hoping parent hopes his child works hard; the helping parent will give the child opportunities to work hard—whether at home, church, or school.
- A hoping parents hopes his child will possess morals and values; the helping parent will help daily to develop and cultivate important values in the life of the child.
I am completely aware that there have been parents that are far greater Christians than I who have done everything Biblically correct, yet the choices that the child has made contradict what he has been taught. By no means do I consider myself an expert on childrearing nor will I ever have all the answers. The thought that I am simply trying to convey is that we must not just hope our kids make it in the Christian Life; let us do everything in our power to help them live it.