Paul on parenting (and you too).
As far as we know, the Apostle Paul – found in Acts and author of many New Testament books, was not a parent. In fact, it seems as if he was never married. However, Paul did consider himself a father in the faith to many younger men and women.
Paul’s most famous protege was Timothy. Timothy accompanied Paul on his many missionary journeys, and he watched as he planted and led churches across the world. Paul wrote at least two letters to Timothy (1 & 2 Timothy found in the New Testament). In his letters to Timothy, Paul positioned himself as a grandfather teaching a father how to train his spiritual children.
1 Timothy chapter 4 is a great example of this. Written to Timothy about how to lead a group of believers in the church, it is also great information for parents raising children.
Below are 4 tips we can take from this passage in raising our own children.
1. Godly > Myths
Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales. Instead, train yourself to be godly.
-1 Timothy 4:7 (NLT)
It’s so easy to fall into the traps of parenting myths. Here are a few:
- Cleanliness is next to godliness.
- I will always feel love for my kids.
- A good parent is always right.
- Each child is always treated the same.
These myths and other like them can destroy us and/or our children. They can lead us to frustration and heartache. Better than following myths (or even general truths) about parenting, we need to be godly.
We need to hear God’s voice for each our children in every different settings.
2. Spiritual > Physical.
“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it. This is why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers.
-1 Timothy 4:8-10 (NLT)
Our culture is feeding us a lie – all things physical (sports, dance, art, drama, education) is more valuable than the spiritual. Culture tells us the best way to build character or be healthy is to grow the physical part of our kid’s lives.
All of these activities have their place. They are great to build wonderful traits in our children. They aren’t a replacement for spiritual truths. Good parents constantly look for ways to build their children spiritually, knowing physical means is just one way.
3. Youth ≥ Experience
Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.
-1 Timothy 4:12
Life experience is invaluable, and nothing can replace its value. However, youth has it’s place as well. Youth brings with it curiosity, joy, strength and passion.
We need to encourage all of these traits in our children. We need to encourage them to take risks and chances. Challenge your children to lead in these things. Sometimes youth is equal to or even greater than experience. Don’t let your children take a back seat because of their youth.
4. Cultivate Gifts
Do not neglect the spiritual gift you received through the prophecy spoken over you when the elders of the church laid their hands on you. Give your complete attention to these matters. Throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone will see your progress.
-1 Timothy 4:14-15
One of the most life giving actions you can take as a parent is encouraging the gifts built into your child. If they are an artist, encourage them in art. If they are a scholar, encourage them in school. If they are an actor, encourage them in drama.
Further, encourage them in their spiritual gifts – exhortation, teaching, giving, mercy, leadership, etc. Place them in opportunities to excel in their gifts. Pair them with men, women or other children to learn these things.
Grow as a Parent this Month!
Pastor David challenged the entire church to read through the entire New Testament during February and March. I’m reading along, and I’m really enjoying the discussion it has sparked. I encourage you to read along with us.
As you read, look through the eyes of a parent. What is Paul and the other authors of these books telling us about parenting our children toward Jesus?
If you would like to join in, it’s not too late! Grab a Bible at the information desk, or use any of the free resources HERE (includes a children’s version).