The following verses will send us into an area often neglected by parents and yet one that is a foundational element; easily as important as the other three that have been discussed (the Bible, Prayer and Community). 1 Peter 5:8-9 (NIV) reminds us, Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith . . . as does Ephesians 6:12 (NIV) – For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
As parents we are in a war! The weapons used are varied. Prisoners are taken. Lives are lost. Is this a tad over-dramatic? No! Satan is the enemy of every human being and hates everything that God loves! Let us repeat the latter part of this statement – he hates everything that God loves – including our kids and our families! So why do we turn against our mates, our kids, our neighbors, our co-workers, when they aren’t the enemy? Here are just a few of the enemy’s tactics:
* Negativity. He will plant negative thoughts in our minds about ourselves and others, which often end up on our lips, and scar us and those around us. Examples: “That was dumb,” “Haven’t you learned anything yet,” “Wow, my son is fat” and “There’s no way they’re going to amount to anything.”
* Condemnation. We will make mistakes as parents. This is inevitable. What is just as inevitable is the enemy’s attempts to plague us with condemning thoughts such as, “You’ve screwed up and will always screw up” and “You are destined to be a horrible parent.”
* Unbelief. When difficult times come, faith/trust in God can carry us. The enemy knows this and will throw arrows of unbelief and doubt our way. Examples include: “Nothing will change,” “Your kid will never accept Christ or come back to Him” and “Your family will come to financial ruin”.
How do we handle this enemy? Much could be said, but we do well to remember that the main battleground is our minds. 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV) provides us with awesome guidance: We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
We can observe aspects to this battle:
- We must teach our kids and ourselves to take every thought captive. We must not believe everything we hear! Sift it all. Each and every thought is from God, Satan or ourselves.
- We must make every thought obedient to Christ. Our effectiveness in doing this increases as we think like Christ. To think more like Christ we do well to: i) spend much time reading and memorizing the Bible, ii) consistently pray, iii) monitor what we and our kids watch on TV and look at on the Internet and iv) listen to Christian music full of praise.
Many who attempt to lose weight try for a while and end up throwing in the towel. A common complaint heard, muffled because the person is so out of breath, “Is this making any difference!” However, those who keep at it and persevere will see results. One day they will look in the mirror and hardly believe what they see.
In the same way, parenting requires perseverance, especially in God’s way, even when the results aren’t immediately obvious. The four foundational elements covered in these posts make up a stool that any parent can confidently rest on. Take away any one and the stool becomes unsteady and imbalanced. We wrap up this series with some challenging words from Proverbs 9:10-12 (NIV) – “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For through me, your days will be many, and years will be added to your life. If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.”
Will we mock God’s ways, ignore them, and suffer greatly in our parenting? (Remember, our kids will also suffer.) Or will we choose to fear God, embrace His wisdom and ways, and bear wonderful fruit. Yes indeed, a choice needs to be made.
Why not spend some time today or this week asking God what the next step is for you in your parenting journey? It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when absorbing so much information. Take things one step at a time and He can lead you in the right direction.