I had wanted to read this book much earlier than I actually did. However, it was perfectly timed for me to read it at just the right time. I needed the encouragement from it this week. Parenting with the Gospel in mind takes work and intention and if I’m honest, some days it’s tiring. Some days I don’t want to be intentional. I just want to turn on a movie with a child in each room so there’s no more arguing. Sure, there’s a time and place for that. But if I’m not getting to the heart issue, what’s the purpose?
I have seen The Gospel for Life series in bookstores for awhile now, but never stopped to pick it up. For one thing, the $12.99 for such a small book was a little bit of a turnoff for me. HOWEVER, I would happily spend that much on this book and the others in the series after reading this book. I think this would be a great book to use in small groups or as a women’s or men’s Bible study. I also think that the series in general, would be a great sermon series to help guide the church into deeper knowledge of the why’s and how’s that is often lacking in our churches.
The Gospel and Parenting is a short book with 5 chapters. They are:
What Are We For?
What Does the Gospel Say?
How Should the Christian Live?
How Should the Church Engage?
What Does the Culture Say?
There were so many golden nuggets throughout the pages of this book. It stepped on my toes a few times, but I’m glad it did. It’s so easy to let culture seep into our parenting for many reasons, but I found that in myself, it was because it was easier. It was less intentional. Didn’t take too much work on those days when all you’re doing is looking forward to putting them to bed!
In the section of “What Does the Gospel Say?” I had to break out the highlighter. Honestly, it was broken out long before then, but this might be one of my favorite sections in the book. Timothy Paul Jones wrote:
“There are a couple of phrases that I have repeated over and over throughout my children’s lives, particularly when they’re considering vocational possibilities. What I’ve said to them is simply this: ‘I would rather have you on the other side of the world seeking God’s glory than in a house next door to me seeking your glory, and I would rather have you in a grave in God’s will than in a mansion resisting God’s will.”
I had to read and re-read that statement over and over. Wow. Could I really, honestly, deep down say this to my kids? I mean, sure I could speak the words, but could I mean them? Well, his daughter tests his honesty about this statement and it was such a tender and touching story in this section. You’ll have to get the book to read about it because I’m not spoiling it by trying to paraphrase!
The other part that made me stop and pray over myself was in Chapter 5. David E. Prince shares a story about how he and his wife came to realize that they were letting the culture seep into their parenting. They found themselves saying “How could you…?” or “I can’t believe you…” But we’re all sinners, so why do we think they wouldn’t do certain things? He said, “The way we had been responding to sin focused on how our child was letting us down. It was about his or her failure to live up to the family standard of righteousness.” I’ve been there, done that. I had to confess my sins before I even turned a page.
He goes on to say “Framing discipline in an anti-gospel way places children on a performance treadmill. Their lives are based on meeting your expectations. And the only outcome of that appraoch is defeat and despair. Conviction of sin will bring no joy. It will only bring shame because they will reason, ‘I have failed my parents who thought I was a good person. Now they know I am not a good person because I have these thoughts and act this way. I must be worthless.'”
Ouch. I don’t ever want my children to have those thoughts, yet how often do we slip into performance-based parenting and discipline instead of going for the heart change?
If you’re a parent, you must read this book. You may say “Yeah, it’s just another parenting book,” as you roll your eyes and throw it back on the shelf. It’s not. It’s a good, quick study on parenting AND the Gospel. I’m sure you’ll find your toes stepped on throughout the book, too. But it’s worth it. I promise.
I received this book free from Lifeway in exchange for my honest opinion of this book.