I think the biggest reason why we don’t parent our children in Godly ways is the frantic pace at which we live our lives. It isn’t lack of knowledge or lack of resources or lack of skill, it is essentially a lack of time. It takes time to lead our children in family devotions. It takes time to gather them to pray. It takes time to plan for a family retreat. It takes time to teach them the Gospel in every little situation that comes up. It takes time to listen to their hearts. It takes time to pray for their hearts. It takes time to think through the areas they need to grow in. It takes time. It takes time. It takes time.
But time is something we don’t have. So we settle for yelling or lecturing or shame simply because it produces some immediate response. We know that it’s not best, but we honestly can’t imagine how in the world we would ever come up with the time needed to parent in a different way.
So if anything you learn about parenting (whether from the Parenting Conference in April 2012 or from a book you read or a friend you talk to) is going to take root in your life and family, the first thing that is required is that youcreate space for it. If you try to simply add one more thing on top of everything else you’re doing, it will not work. You must create space. Multi-tasking may work for tasks, but not for relationships. You must carve out unhurried time in order to parent well.This is a simple enough concept, but the difficulty lies in carrying it out. There is no easy formula for creating space. And it certainly won’t happen by default. You must be intentional…and ruthless. Intentional in setting goals and breaking them up into increments and then keeping them as a priority. And ruthless in eliminating not only the meaningless time-wasters, but also the good-but-not-as-important responsibilities and commitments. This means being ruthless in saying “no” to many good opportunities that arise also, even ministry opportunities.
Discipling the hearts of our children is a tremendous responsibility and privilege that God has given us. There are many other voices and influences clamoring for the attention of our children. There are many other factors that are shaping their lives. Will we rise to the challenge to be their primary teacher? Will we take up the calling to train the hearts of our children in the truths and ways of Scripture? Will we make the Gospel the central component in our parenting? Or, will we settle for merely keeping their behavior in line and making sure they get into a good school—and let the godless culture around us squeeze them into its mold?
Take a moment right now, before you rush off to the next thing on your schedule or list, and ask God what He is calling you to do in response to this. Is there something in your regular schedule that you could let go of in order to create space for training your children in the truths of the Gospel? Is there something in the kid’s schedule that could be eliminated in order to open up time for them to relate with God? What do you need to communicate to your spouse in order to begin planning intentionally how to teach your children? Take a minute or two to think about that and ask God what He wants for you to do.