God so amazes me. When Dianna invited me last year to be the EEW parenting columnist I knew this was something God had for me. I had been a long-time reader of EEW and desired to contribute to its voice, but I never felt like there was a place for me. Every column had a columnist, and I was never inspired to contribute in the magazine’s other areas. When I understood that Dianna wasn’t just inviting me to write a column but to be the columnist I was excited and a little afraid. How will I connect with the readers? Will I be able to come up with enough topics? Will they read my column when my oldest son is only 8, hardly the age to make me a parenting “expert”?
These doubts kept me where I should be, at Jesus’ feet, asking, begging, Him to cause me to succeed. He is the inexhaustible God of wisdom and from Him I have received an abundance of topics and biblical and practical direction to share with you. He has given me so much that in January I had enough column topics to cover publishing dates through September, and God has since extended my storehouse through December. This week I had planned to talk about how we can help our children respond to the culture war against Christians who believe in the biblical definition of marriage being between one man and one woman. I thought this was particularly fitting in light of the recent backlash from Chick-fil-A owner Dan Cathy’s expression of his belief in traditional marriage. But a word God gave me last week is what I have to share with you this time.
See, last week, as I was thrust into the international spotlight after my son, Joshua, the "Lemonade Kid," exploded on the media scene for raising money for the City of Detroit, I began wrestling with doubts of my ability to express myself in the platforms God gave me. The doubt first came the day the story hit the paper. An editor asked me to participate in her newspaper’s live chat regarding education in our state. She thought my “voice would be a wonderful addition to the discussion.” “What could I add?” I thought. “I’m not an educational expert. I’m a homeschooling mom.” Eventually, I decided to speak as a home educator and my own experience with education, as a former educator outside of the home and one who had attended and had her child briefly enrolled in the public school system. I finally was confident to contribute, but then I got nervous again when I read the professional credentials of the other participants. When I decided to take my fears to the Lord, He said, “Obedience is your credential.” I thought I should have a master’s in educational policy, be in charge of an educational institution or be some sort of lobbyist. No, God said, “obedience is your credential. When someone asks, ‘How did you get to this point?’ say, ‘obedience.’” We succeed in whatever we do, including as parents, when we obey what God tells us to do.
Obedience is better than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22). We may recall the Prophet Samuel telling King Saul this when Saul disobeyed God and instead sacrificed to God the animals God told him to kill. King Saul believed that his sacrifice would mean more to God than his obeying God. We, as black Americans who have been told that we have to work twice as hard to be considered half as good, believe sacrifice comes with the territory of who we are. Sacrifice is in our cultural DNA. We sacrifice to put our children in the best programs and schools and get them the latest fashions and other accoutrements. We, like Saul, may go after what we think is best instead of following what God says is best. Saul lost his kingship as a result of his disobedience. We lose our parenting “ship” when we self sacrifice and don’t obey God.
Obedience is better than suffering. The result of choosing sacrifice over obedience is suffering. Our suffering can come in a number of ways: a bratty child who has been given too much; poor health from working excessive hours; and little knowledge about our children because others spend more time with them than we do are just a few of the ways we could suffer. I’m not talking about mothers who have to work long hours to make ends meet. I’m talking about you mothers who decided you needed to work to provide extra for your children and God didn’t tell you to do that. God has put parents in charge of the ship to steer our children on the course He has prepared for them. Surely, we should obey God since He designed the course, knows the course and only planted us as captains to follow the course. Our sacrifice without obedience is setting us up for a parenting shipwreck. We need to get off board and on board with God.
First, acknowledge that you have sought man’s credentials over God’s credential for your success. Remember, God will forgive you and cleanse you of this unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
Second, after confessing to God confess to your children that you have chosen sacrifice over obedience to God and will be seeking God to change your course. Remember, if you trust and acknowledge God, He will direct you (Proverbs 3:5-6).
So often we don’t feel surefooted in our parenting. We worry if we are doing things right and even overcompensate for our insecurities by putting in a lot of human effort. But God is calling us to obey His voice, follow Him and not our idea of Him or our own ideas and ideals. Obedience is our credential for parenting and is the way for us to keep the Kingdom first.