daily Broadcast

Is There a Parent in the House?, Part 1

From the series House or Home - Parenting Edition

We all long to be good parents. We want to see our children grow up to be godly, responsible, loving people. But the fact is that for most of us the joy of parenting is mixed with a strong dose of frustration, guilt, and anxiety. Would you like to know how to raise your kids without regrets and find joy in the process? If so, join Chip as he begins this series: House or Home: God’s Blueprint for Biblical Parenting.

2024 House or Home Parenting Broadcast Art 600x600 jpg
Chip Ingram App

Helping you grow closer to God

Download the Chip Ingram App

Get The App

Today’s Offer

House or Home Parenting Edition free mp3 download.


Message Transcript

So, we’re going to talk about God’s agenda and God’s blueprint for being the kind of parent that He wants you to be. And it’s going to be challenging, it’s going to be wonderful, and what I can tell you is it’s not theory.

And I’d like to say that I came from this amazing home where my father and his father and his great grandfather were all pastors or godly lay people and they knew God and I grew up with, you know, someone putting me on their knee and reading me Bible stories.

My parents weren’t Christians when I grew up and my dad was an alcoholic. And so I’d like to say I married a girl that came from this amazing home but I can’t. Her father was an alcoholic.

So what you have is a pretty dysfunctional group of people coming together that don’t have a clue about how to be parents. Which ought to give you a lot of hope right now.

The other thing is, you need to know this up front, is when I met my wife because she went through some tragic situations, not of her doing, I met her and she had these two little kids that were about two years old.

And because she had two little kids that were two years old it took me about two and a half years to figure out she was really God’s will. Because the idea of marrying her was one thing, becoming an instant father was something else.

So when we’re talking about single parents, we know what we’re talking about. When we’re talking about a blended family, I know what I’m talking about. And when you’re talking about it coming from two dysfunctional families, I can tell you, what I’m going to share with you is not theory or something that ought to happen someday, someway.

What we have done with our kids, very imperfectly, is we have realized unless God shows up and gives us supernatural power, unless we follow God’s blueprint in His Word, unless we get people that walk with God much better than us and learn from them, and then as imperfectly as we followed, we really sought to follow God’s blueprint.

And all I can tell you, by the grace of God, I’ve got four kids that passionately walk with Christ. All involved in ministries either as lay people or vocationally. And, you know, Theresa and I sometimes we pinch each other and we think, because, I mean, we so struggled.

But what I really want to tell you is, listen very carefully. The greatest joys you’ll ever experience on this planet will have to do with your children. The greatest sorrows you’ll ever experience on this planet will have to do with your children.

The most precious gift and possession that God will ever entrust to you are your children.  And the greatest responsibility and potential for legacy and impact are your children.

So let’s jump in together and let’s get God’s perspective on children, big picture. And then I want to give you what I think are the four overarching, biblical axioms or principles about when God says, “What’s the blueprint for raising kids that fulfills My agenda, that brings you joy, and allows them to respond to Me in the way I want them to…” those are the four things we’re going to cover. You ready?

Your kids matter to God. Listen to what he says in Psalm [127]:3 through 5. “Behold! Children are a gift of the Lord.” Circle the word “gift.” “The fruit of the womb is a reward.” Circle the word “reward.” Some days they don’t feel like a gift and some days they do not feel like a reward. “But they’re like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They shall not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gates.”

Notice an arrow is something that’s to be launched and sent. An arrow needs a clear target. An arrow needs preparation. God’s will for your kids is not just they’re sweet, and perfect, and happy, and everything comes out right. Arrows have purpose.

God has a purpose for your daughters and a purpose for your son. He has entrusted them to you temporarily and they are a gift and they’re His, and they’re a reward, and your job is to discern what is the target? And how does this arrow need to be shaped? And how do you release this arrow, not so everything turns out the way you want it to, but so that arrow hits the target that a sovereign, all-wise, all-knowing, loving God has for your son or daughter.

Because the greatest joy they will ever experience is being in the center of His will. You can’t do that for them but you create that environment.

Notice what the Scripture says, instructions to parents. This is the key New Testament passage. We’ll come back to it often. “Children, obey your parents.” By the way, when you think about what you need to help your kids learn, it’s the only one command in all of the New Testament that kids have.

Obey your parents. So, I’ll flip it around. How serious are you about helping them learn to obey?

Notice He goes on to say, “For this is right.” And then He reaches back into the Ten Commandments. Commandment number five: “Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth. And fathers, do not provoke your children to anger but bring them up in the discipline and the instruction of the Lord.”

And so the summary we have is children are a gift from God, a sacred stewardship, temporarily entrusted to parents for the purpose of raising godly offspring to fulfill God’s agenda for His world. That’s a very long, purposeful statement.

A gift, stewardship, temporary. They’re not yours. This issue that how they turn out reflects so much on you. Christian parents especially take way too much responsibility for when their kids don’t turn out right and take almost no responsibility when they turn out well. You talk to Christian parents and if their kids turn out, “Oh, well, it was all the Lord.” Of course, it was all the Lord. But you had a part.

But it’s really funny then you got two or three that make great decisions and they have little choosers and one of them makes some really bad decisions. And I’ve been with parents that for twenty years, “I’m a failure. I blew it. It’s all my fault.” Well, how can it be all your fault if it all goes wrong but it’s all God if it all goes right?

See, that kind of thinking is really not very good thinking. You, as a parent, are a steward. You create an environment where your children can learn, and grow, and respond to God.

What choices they make, you know what they are? They’re choices. And sometimes at fourteen, or sixteen, or eighteen, or twenty, or twenty-three they make some very foolish, sinful, stupid choices.

Now, if you haven’t taught them anything and you’ve been neglectful and you haven’t modeled the things that would help them make good choices, then you need to ask God to forgive you and repent.

But if to the best of your ability you’ve done all that you can to create that kind of environment and they make some of those choices, you need to understand, I’m a steward. I need to own anything that I’ve done that I know was wrong and then I need to release that child and realize, you know something? They need to learn to feel the weight of their consequences, and you not own everything that goes wrong in your kids’ lives. And so let’s get really clear on that.

Now, let’s ask, well, what is that environment? How do you do it? Four biblical principles to become godly parents.

Number one. Godly parents begin with positive, clear-cut objectives. Positive, clear-cut objectives. You might put an arrow in your notes and write the word “target.”

As one of my old coaches said, “If you don’t have a target, you hit it every time.” Because it can go anywhere.

Godly parents start with a positive, clear-cut objective. In the Phillips translation, notice what it says in Ephesians 6:4. “Fathers,” negative command, “don’t overcorrect your children or exasperate them or make it difficult for them to obey the command.” Then notice the positive command. “Bring them up with Christian teaching and Christian discipline.”

Put a line under “Christian teaching” and “Christian discipline.” Negative command is don’t exasperate them. Don’t be perfectionistic. Don’t compare them with their brothers. Don’t say, “You ought to do this.” Don’t ask a C student to get all As.

Don’t demand that because you love sports they should love sports. Don’t demand that they ought to be musical because you just think musical is really important.

Don’t exasperate your kids. Don’t demand that every little thing is right all the time. Don’t scream and yell and intimidate them and discipline out of anger. There’s a lot of different ways that we exasperate our children and make it hard for them to obey.

But, by contrast, bring them up. The word, literally, is nurture. And in classical Greek literature, this word “bring them up” meant the physical development of a child. Kind of the, I mean, how do you make them strong physically?

In later Greek literature, this word came to mean the total education of a child. The spiritual, moral, physical development of the child.

By the time we get to Koine Greek it had to do with the total development of everything. So how do you bring up or nurture, train, develop, and educate your child to fulfill, or become mature, of their absolute highest potential? That’s what He’s saying. That’s your job.

And so what He says, then, after this is how to do it. Christian teaching and Christian discipline. We’ll get into this a bit later. Christian teaching is what you say to your kids. Discipline is what you do. Those are the two, kind of, things that you have to help your kids. There’s certain things you say, there’s certain things you do.

Our problem, normally, is we get them at their, we flip flopped in the wrong time. When they’re very small we say, say, say, say too much. We got a two year old. “Okay, now, Bobby?” “Yes, Dad?” “You need to understand. When you don’t listen to me, according to Scripture, according to the Lapsarian Theory, and the cause and consequence of sowing and reaping. You need to understand. Nya, nya, nya, nya, nya.” And this little kid is going…

You know, all you need to tell him is, “Bobby, when I say, ‘Pick up your toys,’ pick them up.” “Why?” “I said so. That’s why. Because all you need to do is obey.”

Bobby is a teenager. “Hey, I want to go to this movie! I want to do this with my friends! I don’t understand! Hey, Dad, give me a break, will ya? How come I can’t?” “I said so.” Not a good answer.

When they’re a teenager you want to talk. Here’s the why. Here’s the what for. Here’s the reasoning. Why do you think you should do that?

When they’re small, what you want do is set the guardrails, by your actions and your consequences. They can’t think developmentally. They can’t think abstractly. They’re very concrete.

And what you’re going to learn all throughout the process when they’re young, pre-teens, teenagers, and older is these two tools are in your bag. Certain things you’re going to say, certain things you’re going to do.

And he says, “That’s how you bring them up and then nurture.” I call this the principle of focus. The greatest thing I see parents do, and been there done that, is parenting out of fear instead of parenting out of focus.

“I’m afraid that this is going to happen. I’m afraid they’re going to get behind. I’m afraid my two year old is not on the soccer team yet I’m sure he’s going to…”

So you got all these three year olds doing this, you know? Fifteen of them with one ball, one kid over there really having fun, you know, picking grass, throwing it up in the middle, you know? You know? And then on the baseball when the guy’s twirling his glove, he’s four years old. He doesn’t want to be there. But it’s the uniform. And if you breathe you do get a trophy now because we gotta help everybody’s self-esteem. Right?

And so what we have is whole families spending entire weekends, “Okay, we go to the softball here and then we go to the soccer practice here, oh, we got a nine year old, a seven year old, and an eleven year old. I want to be a good parent.”

Being a good parent is not figuring out how to drive yourself crazy every weekend in SUVs and minivans. Taking kids to multiple things that they actually don’t want to go to, often, and are not ready for but because all the other parents are doing it.

And what’s the motivation? “I’m afraid my kid will get left behind. I’m afraid they won’t develop. I’m afraid of what the other parents might think.”

So you’ve got to parent out of focus. What’s the goal? God’s dream or the world’s dream? I call it the American dream. God’s dream, under that in your notes write the word “Romans 8:29.” We often quote Romans 8:28, don’t we? You know how God works all things together for the good for those that love Him that are called according to His purpose.

So we can know that difficult situations, world tragedies, I mean, all kind of issues. We know a sovereign, all-wise, powerful God is going to work all things together for good. And we quote that.

Verse 29 tells us for what? He says, “In order to conform us to the image of His Son.” In essence, God’s primary agenda for your daughter or your son is to make him like Christ.

The Bible calls that “being holy.” Not holy as in weird. Not holy as in they will have big, black Bibles. Not holy as in you have to have bumper stickers on your car. Not holy as you are, you know, really weird and can’t relate to normal people.

“Holy” as being morally pure and different or distinct and being like Christ, loving other people the way Christ did. Caring for people the way Christ did. Having the heart, the character, and the love of Christ.

That’s God’s agenda for your son. That’s the number one thing he’s trying to get done.

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard parents say, “I don’t want my kids to go through what I went through.” That’s an interesting statement. I’ve heard parents say that who have really great character, who are very godly. And I’m thinking, “So, what is it you don’t want them to go through?” No pain, no suffering, no difficulty, no conflict in relationships? You know what? I’m just betting those are all the things that made you who you are.

See, what happens is generation number one discovers Christ, loves Him, has a radical transformation, begins to walk with God. When you begin to walk with God, you prioritize your money, you prioritize your time, you discover your spiritual gifts, you get into biblical community and guess what all that does? It causes God’s blessing.

And God’s blessing usually has some side benefits like personal peace. Usually He blesses a lot of other areas of your life. He often promotes you in ways. And you become more financially comfortable.

So generation number two comes and doesn’t go through all that pain and so generation two thinks, “Wow, Mom and Dad took care of this, and this is good, and this is good.”

And you have a conviction. They have sort of a comfortable, believing, consciousness of Christ. And then the next generation, often, is either rejecting Christ or lukewarm at best.

And a lot of it is the very thing that brings success… all these parents are trying to keep your kids from going through difficulty. Keep them from going through pain. Those are the things, that’s how you got close to God.

You need to parent out of focus not parent out of fear.

One focus is on character the other is on circumstance. The average parent is spending inordinate amount of time, money, energy, and focus so that your kids will be “successful.” And now what I want you to tell me is what’s your game plan and how focused are you in helping them become “holy?”

Because they get to be thirteen, fourteen, fifteen? If they’ve been on the success deal, it’s pretty, it’s hard to pull that string back in, isn’t it?

Second timeless principle is godly parenting demands we practice what we preach. We practice what we preach.

It’s the principle of modeling. We must be what we want our children to become.

And if you want a great picture, imagine, if you would, sort of the nice, big sofa. If you only have a couple kids it could be a loveseat.

And I want you to go through this thing where you bend over and you look into the eyes of all your children and we’ll put them right here on this invisible couch. And say, “Since I know this is true, here is what? I want you to tell the truth exactly like you see Mommy or Daddy tell the truth. I want you to drive the car just the way. Like when the law says, you know, with the phone and all that? You just do it the way I do it. If I text, you text. Okay? I want you to be as generous with your money and obey God’s word exactly like I do.

When I get really upset and angry and you hear me scream or yell or be passive or withdraw, I want you to do it exactly like that.” And here, parents, here’s the deal. And this may be worth our entire time coming together. The biggest thing you’ll ever do is not something you do with your kids. It’s who you are.