Jesus on Parenting Teens: You are not God

Poor in spirit

If we want our teens to embrace Christianity, we can’t just take them to church or simply talk about it.  We have to be living it!  There is a difference between being religious and modeling Christ, and teens can spot that a mile away.  They want, and need, authentic believers to show them the way.

One way to check your progress in this area is to spend some time reading Jesus’ famous “Sermon on the Mount”.  He outlines the character and conduct of a true Christian, beginning with “The Beatitudes.”

I’ve often heard them referred to as “the Be-attitudes, not the Do-attitudes”, because they describe whom we should be when we are living in fellowship with Christ.

I’ve also heard them described as “the beautiful attitudes”.  I don’t know about you, but I frequently struggle with having a beautiful attitude, and parenting can bring out the worst attitudes in us…especially during the teen years.

“None of these descriptions refers to what we may call natural tendencies.”-Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones

The first beautiful attitude we are to have is to be poor in spirit.  This means to be aware of how totally dependent we are on God.  Left to ourselves, we are spiritually bankrupt.  We can do no good thing on our own, and that includes parenting!

Jesus says we are blessed when we have this attitude, because it is only when we are aware of our own emptiness that we can acknowledge our need for a Savior.  It is the door into the kingdom.

Also, God favors the humble, those who trust in Him rather than their own strength.  We can read every parenting book or blog (including this one), rely on our own intelligence, and take advice from friends and family…but ultimately we must rely on God’s guidance, provision, and strength to do this parenting thing every day.  Admitting our weaknesses to God grants Him access to work in power in our lives, for the sake of our children.

This kind of humility produces a variety of fruit.  For one thing, the humble are not easily prone to anger.  It’s pretty hard to get upset with your child when you have a full comprehension of your own struggles.  Our teens are just as poor in spirit as we are!  That recognition opens our hearts to compassion and patience.

Also, realizing that we ourselves are not God takes a lot of pressure off, doesn’t it?  Ultimately, God loves our kids even more than we do.  That’s hard to comprehend, but even just thinking about it gives us hope and peace.  Yes, we are to “train up a child in the way they should go” (Proverbs 22:6), but we cannot force them to believe.  Our job is to introduce Jesus to them, through instruction and example.  The rest of the work is up to the Holy Spirit, and our best work is done on our knees, in total dependence on God.

Does that mean every one of our kids will automatically and immediately become a believer with a rock solid faith?  Of course not.  There are no guarantees here, because our kids are born with free will, just like the rest of us. (That stinks, doesn’t it?)

It also does not mean that even if they have accepted Christ they will behave perfectly.  In fact, some days, between the raging hormones and the continual pressing for independence, you may feel like you’ve the lost the battle.  When those days come, remember Jesus’ encouragement:

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.” – Matthew 5:3 (The Message)

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