Transformative Parenting: The Message and the Method

By Edy Sutherland

One of our own North Ridger’s just published this article on the Family Matters Website. Check out the original here.

How many times have you heard or maybe said, “I went another day without ever using algebra”? We learn algebra to solve everyday real world problems. Too often, algebra is taught as a series of steps to follow, y=mx + b.

Many times, math teachers become so focused on the procedure they forget why they are doing algebra – to solve a real life problem. In reality we use algebra to calculate the price for items on sale, the miles travelled per gallon and the interest we pay on our mortgages. As parents, we do not want our children to grow up saying, “See, I went another day without using the Bible.”

Teaching the Bible can be like teaching algebra. If we teach theology and Bible stories without framing them in the context of relationship with Christ, the knowledge seems well, academic. Without the light of Christ, children are prone to go their own way, on their terms, for their benefit regardless of the consequence. My aspiration is for the Spirit to dwell in them permanently not just to grow them superficially.

And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. – Ezekiel 36:27

 

We do need to know theology and Bible stories to help a child solve a social, emotional or moral problem accurately. We cannot isolate the message from the method, relationship with Jesus. When I sit down to solve an algebra problem I ask a few questions:

What do I know?

What do I want to know?

What are the steps I take to solve the problem?

Every person, especially young children, want to know:

Do you SEE me?

Do you know what it’s like to BE me?

Jesus always addresses these questions before He ever counsels or directs a person in truth. He appreciates the person regardless of their misguided behaviors or beliefs. This is true with people of all social, cultural, or economic perspectives. If you’ve had a transformative encounter with Jesus you get this. He met you on your terms validating you are precious and valuable. The rest of the story goes on to detail how He loves you too much to allow you to stay in your wrongful behavior.

Dr. Tim Kimmel says, “The primary role of a parent is to connect to the heart of a child in such a way that they will want to connect to the heart of God.”

We can deliver the message of truth by the same method Jesus did. His love saves us. His everyday grace satisfies our deepest longing to be seen and our plight to be known.

1-backyard-butterflies-10-12-0911It’s easy for busy parents to by-pass the heart and go directly to the STEPS to follow. When we manage the behavior without addressing the heart matter, our children never learn why they need Jesus.

They fail to learn who they are, a dearly loved follower of Jesus. Instead, they only learn how to behave, rightly. They are likely to launch in to adulthood without a transformative relationship with Jesus.

As parents, we are to demonstrate and illustrate that Jesus transforms us on the inside, which manifests itself on the outside in a way that is real and relatable to them. Knowing theology helps me know how to solve a problem. Knowing my child’s heart frames the problem to be solved. They work together – the message and the method. Ultimately, our primary calling as parents is not to teach my children the Bible, it’s to lead them to a transformative relationship with Jesus.


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