Live With Eternal Perspective Podcast Episode 020 Eternal Perspective Parenting
Welcome to the Terri Hitt – Live With Eternal Perspective Podcast
Episode #020 – Eternal Perspective Parenting
Thank you for entrusting and investing your precious time with me to grow in Jesus together. I am blessed to be back with you today to discuss more ways to live with eternal perspective.
One of the greatest gifts and hardest struggles the Lord has blessed me with is parenting. Being a mother has stretched me, helped to erase selfish desires, and shown me the heart and essence of God through a deeper understanding of how much He desires to parent and love me.
Parenthood allows God to expose my heart in ways that never would have occurred had I not stepped into the role of mother. To love a child without reserve, to acknowledge that in their eyes, I am everything, yet to skillfully accept that love and adoration, that dependence, and shift it to their Heavenly Father as I aspire to allow Him to guide and direct me is a humbling and beautiful task.
Even more beautiful for me is the beautiful gift God extended to me when He called my husband and I to adopt. Adoption has exposed the gospel to me in an even clearer and meaningful way. Jesus was adopted. Orphan lives matter. I understand now how deeply I love each one of my precious children, regardless of how they came to be mine. There is no distinction. They are mine forever. I would die for any one of them. Jesus has manifested Himself to me in supernatural ways through the process of creating a home for and providing for the needs of my children through adoption. He works so clearly as I depend on Him to guide and educate me, to love through me, and increase my understanding of His plans for us and our beloved children.
Laying aside my desires and needs to meet theirs can be both joy-filled and exhausting, yet it is what I am called to do as a parent. Life is not about expecting gratitude for sacrifices, either. When I lay down my life for my child daily, it may not be a physical death, but an eradication of self and my self-centered expectations and I am teaching them to do the same for others. There is no greater joy for me than to raise my children to know, love, and honor the Lord and to guide them to accept Jesus as Savior and live the life He has created them to experience with joy and peace. This goal is always on the forefront of my mind. II want to influence them to be lifelong disciplines of Jesus and guide them to exalt Him in every area of their life and to desire following Him in every way.
The idea I regard as true for my role as a parent has certainly matured since I became a mother for the first time at age 18. When you envision parenting, do you describe your child (or children) as your best friend or “mini me?” Do you follow the world and fall to the expectations and lean toward the aspirations it sets for your parental goals? Or do you accept your responsibility as their guardian with a heart for the Lord and a grateful spirit that He has entrusted His masterpieces to you for a specific purpose and time?
It is certainly not by coincidence that your child has been deposited in your care. The word deposit means, “to place for safekeeping.” I believe when we view our role as a parent to God’s children through this lens, we begin to recognize that we are caretakers, just as Jesus protects us.
Mark 9:37 says, “Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me.”
Regardless of by what method your child came to you, whether biological or adopted, your precious gift was created by God for His purpose and you have the unique blessing of being appointed by Him as the shepherd of your child’s soul. Our children were created for specific purposes that God has ordained for them and set in them.
Jeremiah 1:5a clearly tells us, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.”
God has not placed His child in your care for the purpose of becoming their best friend or because we want or deserve to be a parent. We weren’t chosen because of the desire we have for our child or for what purpose we believe they will bring to our life.
God has placed them under our stewardship because of the divine objective He designed to work through us. God is molding and shaping parent and child together, as He guides and grows our children and also works in us through them. Parenting is not about, or for us. God has gifted us in this role to allow us participation in an eternal purpose with far greater significance than we can see or imagine. He is entrusting His precious minors in our care so that we will lift them up to Him as we seek His wisdom and guidance.
Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain; unless the LORD protects the city, its watchmen stand guard in vain.”
The key to parenting with God’s eyes, heart, and attitude is to first reflect on, and strengthen, our personal walk with Jesus.
I believe we must thoughtfully and purposely consider the following questions:
1. Where is my identity found?
2. Where do I find my hope?
3. How do I define myself?
4. Where do I find success?
5. Who or what do I rely on?
6. What shapes me?
7. Who and what will I allow to mold my children?
8. What is my objective as I parent my children?
Until we fully know, trust, love, and follow the Lord in a secure, growing, eternal relationship, we will not be attuned to the fullness of what His call is for us as parents.
Without our eternal attachment and reliance on Jesus, our children will lack the spiritual formula they need to flourish.
Jesus expects every aspect of my child’s experiences with me and our life together to press them into His arms.
3 John 1:4 says, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”
The Lord is calling parents to be His truth.
Our personal eternal salvation must be secure in order for our child to have the greatest likelihood of an eternal future with Christ.
We must willingly allow Jesus to sit on the throne of our heart and life, our attitudes and choices, our actions, and intentions if we want to raise children who joyfully exhibit His love, joy, peace, self-control, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
The foundation for the eternity of my child is my responsibility.
One of my favorite passages in the Bible is found in Deuteronomy 6:6-9, which says, “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
God’s ways are full of wisdom and provisions to care for us, build our future, and keep us safe. This passage shows that God calls us to:
1. Know and keep His words as a treasure in our heart.
2. Teach His words to our children through relationship and mentorship.
3. Discuss the Lord and His ways.
4. Ponder Him and His teachings.
5. Fix my thoughts on Him.
6. Talk to God throughout my day as a Father and friend.
7. Remember His faithfulness and promises.
8. Show Him to my children and others through the way I live.
In Matthew 22:36, Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment is. He answered with a verse found in Matthew 22:37 and in Deuteronomy 6:5. In Matthew 22:37, Jesus relays the following words. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”
The heart, soul, and mind are representative of an entire person – our heart, brain, and spirit. We are to cherish, know, love, and serve God, to represent and seek Him with all we are. When we do that, we allow Him to naturally flow from us and into others, especially our children. But we must also purposely teach and model God to them.
Through making time to read, know, understand, and respect the word of God. His words are to be in our heart. We don’t simply read and get it done, then move on to something else that needs to be accomplished in our day. We seek our Heavenly Father, savor His word, ponder, and reflect His wisdom and guidance as we allow His to transform us.
We purposely desire the work God is doing in us to be reflected to our children. We allow them to see the difference Christ is making in our life. We demonstrate the characteristics our changed life has brought.
Our relationship isn’t a once a week occurrence. Living with Jesus as the center of our life means that He exists within us and is a natural occurrence of everything about us. He is in our thoughts as we go about our day. We see life through an eternal perspective, understanding and valuing that all things, good, bad, hard, easy, or surprising are opportunities to cleave to Him and draw others to Him. As we speak, our words are scripted by Him, our actions formed as we become more like Him moment by moment. He is as much a part of us, flows as naturally from us as taking our next breath.
I find it fascinating that in Hebrew, the term “love” does not only refer to feelings or emotions. The word “heart,” as Jesus uses it, focuses on the intellect, affection, and inclinations or desires of the person. Jesus is commanding us all to cling to God and be devoted to Him in every way and at every moment.
Jesus is calling us to seek God in everything, to ponder His requirements of us, His sacrifice for us, to live within His guidelines for us, to seek His heart instead of our own, and to model a life for our children that does not strictly follow laws, but the heart of Jesus. We are to lovingly teach our children to desire God through Jesus and a pattern of His love and word represented in our lives.
How do we do that? Through a growing, maturing, purposed relationship with Jesus.
The children we call our own are sent to us by God for a season and a purpose He ordained. We must trust and depend on Him to guide us and rely on His wisdom and discernment, instead of our own.
God knows we are not enough. We need to realize that fact.
He is the creator of our children. No one knows or understands them as He does. He is our deliverance for raising children who thrive in the ways God desires. God always equips the willing. He desires us to desire Him as we influence His children.
We will make mistakes. We will learn and evolve every moment as we look up to and depend on God to mold, shape, and perfect us to live as He created.
Psalm 139:13-16 says, “For You formed my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are Your works, and I know this very well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in secret, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all my days were written in Your book and ordained for me before one of them came to be.”
God planned me. He planned you. He planned each of our children and knew when they would enter our life.
We are not called to be the hero in the life of our child. All we do as we love and parent them is to be modeled after the way our Heavenly Father loves and parents us. We must point our precious children to Him. We want them to rely on and follow the Lord.
The beautiful blessing of raising our children in this way is that we also experience the gift of a beautiful relationship with born-again, God-fearing children.
Ephesians 3:14-21 says, “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
This is the strength and power we need to raise our children in the way God desires.
In order for our children to desire Jesus, and see the need for Him, we must humbly desire the Lord ourselves and exhibit that love for Christ, while allowing it to show it in our life with the fruits we can only receive from a deep and right relationship with the Holy Spirit.
Every moment is an opportunity for us to draw nearer to God and to attract our children to Him.
Thankfully, He has allowed each of us free will. Our children will make their own choices, but when they regularly see humble love and grace exhibited in the hearts and homes of their parents, and recognize that it is extended from the relationship we built with the Lord, it will be a sweet fragrance that attracts and bonds them to Him and to us. When our own identity is strongly formed and forged with the Lord, we lead our child to follow that example. Just as we grow our walk with the Lord moment-by-moment, we do the same with our children, equipping and encouraging them to do the same with Jesus.
Godly parenting emerges when I recognize and admit that it is not about me. It is allowing Him to flow through and guide me to meet the needs of my child. Issues in this world extend from the condition of our heart. We want the heart of our child to be centered in a true, humble, loving, thriving relationship with Jesus.
Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.”
Whatever rules my child’s heart and whatever rules my heart, will rule our behavior and relationship.
Ephesians 6:1-4 says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise: that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth. And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”
Our children are not saved by following our authority, they are saved through submitting to His. As parents, we must obey the Lord’s command to raise our children as He calls.
Ephesians 6:10-18 says, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”
We know from John 10:10 that the enemy is out to steal, kill, and destroy. Jesus has come so that we may have abundant life, for us, our children, our relationship together and with Him. In this world, we are fighting spiritual warfare in the heavenly realms. I appreciate having this passage from Ephesians as a prayer staple to remind me I have what I need to rely on God’s strength and provisions to protect me and my family. His armor is sufficient for our every prayer need.
There are many important points for us to remember when parenting the precious, unique individuals God has entrusted to our care.
1. Pray for God to fill my weakness with His mercy, glory, and provisions.
2. Pray for my child in all ways – continually.
3. Never give up believing that God hears my prayers and sees my attempts to raise my children for and through Him.
4. Let my child know that I pray for him or her. Let them hear me pray and pray with them.
5. Let my child know I pray for myself as I parent them.
6. Teach my child to pray for me.
7. When needed, apologize to my child, and point them to God, not my frailties.
8. Look for opportunities to draw my child to God naturally, daily.
9. Point my child to scripture and the power it holds.
10. Utilize God’s wisdom to parent my child, not my own.
Isaiah 54:13 says, “Then all your sons will be taught by the LORD, and great will be their prosperity.” It is impossible to fathom just how differently the lives of our children will form and how many more blessings we all receive when we humbly acknowledge and obey God’s directives when raising our children for and through Him.
God is enabling us to partner with Him, to humbly and willingly trust Him to guide us through a journey of faith, hope, trust, and transformation of our life and character, as well as the integrity of our children.
Psalm 127:3a says, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord.”
If you have already raised your children and have regrets that you did not know Jesus or did not rely on the power and wisdom of the Lord like you wish you would have, please remember that unfortunately, regrets are a part of the journey through life. It is good to have developed awareness of mistakes, but allow yourself to feel the emotions and experience the truth of what you could have done differently, then release your thoughts and pain as you repent to the Lord. He wants to carry those emotions. God does not desire that you beat yourself up and live in shame or anguish.
Don’t stay cemented in the past, use your experience to nurture a godly relationship with your children and grandchildren now. Jesus came so that we do not need to remain burdened by mistakes and failures. Allow God to direct and lead you. Our Heavenly Father desires our repentance and humble hearts. He is a master at relationships. What we have sown takes time to change, but God will use our willingness and obedience to complete His work.
Proverbs 17:6 says, “Children’s children are the crown of old men, and the glory of children is their father.”
Each moment carries the promise, hope, and beauty of redemption through Christ. God is good. He wants our heart and the soul of our children to reflect, love, and honor Him. He will bless our prayers and desires for that result.
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