Last week we looked at the reality that we can’t take our kids where we have not first gone ourselves. We can’t expect from them what we are not pursuing and modeling with our own lives. But there is another caution I would add…another encouragement I want to share. When our kids do begin to follow our lead, it will not be at a pace we would choose if it were up to us. It will be one baby step at a time. It will almost always be a process and not an event.
I’ve come to realize that I don’t do “process” well. I’m an “event” kind of gal. I like to plan, execute and then check it off my list. Done. I have always seen this as just the reality of being a bit of a “Type A” or a “go get ’em” personality. I didn’t see it as necessarily a weakness, and I certainly didn’t see how it could negatively effect my parenting…but now I know that it can, and in all transparency, it does.
In his fantastic book, Parenting, and specifically his chapter on “Process”, Paul Tripp reminds the reader that parenting is much like our own salvation: “The power of sin has been broken, but the presence of sin still remains and will be progressively eradicated. The most important word in the last sentence is progressively. Here’s what is important to understand: the Father’s work of justification is an event, but his work of transformation is literally a life-long process. When justifying you, God is fully aware that he is committing himself to a day-by-day process of illumining, confronting, convicting, forgiving, transforming, and delivering grace.”
That is the mindset we are to have with our kids (or anyone else, for that matter). Parenting is not an event, but a “life-long process of incremental awareness and progressive change”. To desire overnight change is what will get us into trouble. It’s what gets me into trouble as a parent. I want to hash it out and say all that needs to be said in a given situation. Then, I expect my child to hear it all, agree with it all, and immediately repent and change so we never have to tackle that situation again. Yet that is not how my own sanctification works so why would I think that is how growth will occur in my child’s heart and life?
In the midst of “mothering madness”, it is so important that we remember that “change is most often a process and seldom an event”. This frees our hearts from the “pressure of needing to get from your child what you are never going to get in a single conversation”. And we can rejoice in patient expectation through the many “mini-moments of change”….when God, out of love, will “expose what is wrong with that child again and again so that you will have opportunity after opportunity to take yet another step in the process of awareness, conviction, commitment, and change that he has called you to be part of in the life of your child.”
Tripp goes on to say: “Here’s what parenting is: it’s unfinished people (we parents) being used of God as agents of transformation in the lives of unfinished people. And, yes, it is true that like you, your children will leave your home still unfinished. One of the last things Jesus said to his disciples is that he had many more things to teach them, but they were not at that time able to bear them. So he promised them that he would send another teacher to complete his work. The world’s best teacher had a process mentality and because he did, he was willing to leave his work to unfinished people. (John 16:12-15)”
What a humbling encouragement! What a needed reminder that, as parents, we are still unfinished people in a daily process of “growing in the grace and knowledge” of Jesus. This process mentality truly changes the way relate to our kids in both the ordinary moments of each day and the unexpected ones, as well. It enables us, by God’s grace, to treat them with the same compassionate, patient care that the Lord shows us! What hope this should bring to our hearts as we seek to parent to the praise of His glory!