There is no formula for parenting, no guaranteed “method” for producing perfect children. There are, however, principles that can guide us through this daunting task. I love this one by Anne Ortlund:
My greatest goal for my home is that it produce healthy, happy, secure, and mostly, God-bent children.
This very principle is one that God has put on my heart in these past years since becoming a parent.
It’s easy to have big dreams for my kids. That they would deeply know and love God. That they would serve Him radically and wholeheartedly. That they would build His kingdom with their lives and step into the fullness of His glorious plan for them.
But it’s much harder to actually live this way myself.
How often I get lazy in my relationship with God! How often I fail to serve or give sacrificially when it’s inconvenient or I’m overly worried about my own interests!
However, for a truly strong, simple and settled home, I must first be what I should be. Parenting is a high calling indeed.
And while discipline in maintaining and running a home well has value, the deeper, richer value comes from being spiritually disciplined –firmly and intentionally rooted in Christ as the homemaker and mother.
“Keep his decrees and commands… so that it may go well with you and your children.” Deuteronomy 4:40
And yet, no matter how “on track” we may be, our children also need the opportunity to be with us for this model to truly shape them. They need to see us live our lives in faithfulness, and witness firsthand the goodness of the way. Hence the importance of presence.
So, practically, here are some thoughts on how to live a disciplined spiritual life:
Suggestions for Living a Disciplined Life
1. Prioritize daily time with God
Are you undisciplined in this area? If so, stop making excuses for yourself. If you have time to watch TV or browse the internet during the day, then you have time to invest in your relationship with God. I know that’s not true for everyone (I too have experienced those seasons of survival-mode), but that is the case for most of us.
We will not likely be transformed into the image of God without frequently taking the time to renew our minds to His ways. We will not likely grow in God without frequently taking the time to consume the fresh, abundant, living bread of His word, the Bible.
And if we’re not allowing ourselves to be transformed, how will we lead our children into the fullness of this glorious new life in Christ?
“Discipline is for the parents first. You can’t lead your children over paths you yourself haven’t trod” Anne Ortlund, Disciplines of the Home
For more on how to do this, read:
2. Tithe and give sacrificially as God directs you
Maybe trusting and following God’s leading with our finances –keeping our hands open and our grip on worldly possessions loose –will cost us a new car or a remodeling project. Maybe it will cost us a vacation or new clothes. Maybe it will cost us something that costs us.
If so, good.
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” Malachi 3:10 NIV
We cannot even begin to fathom the blessings God will pour out on us and our families until we begin to do that very thing. We cannot even begin to fathom the eternal reach properly surrendered finances will have in God’s kingdom. We cannot even begin to fathom the profound influence this will be in our children’s lives.
3. Truly love others
Do you consider this a discipline in your life? It can be. So often in life, love is a choice, an action, a verb.
The Bible says it this way,
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” 1 Corinthians 13:1 (NIV)
And what good will it do our children to grow up hearing nothing more than the empty sound of clanging from our lives? Pretty little.
So let us consider what prejudices we must lay aside to more fully step into this life of love to which God has called us.
4. Attend church
Godly community is grounding for us and our children. But these little ones won’t likely come to see, know and experience its importance unless we first make it a priority in our own lives and that of our family.
The easiest way to find this nourishing community is by attending a strong, well-founded church.
How is God challenging you to grow personally in order to better lead your children?
The ideas in this post are adapted from Disciplines of the Home by Anne Ortlund.
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