Craig Smith - Kids and Parents
Well, hey, welcome to Mission Hills. Wherever you are in the world, we want you to know that you have found a church home with us. And we’re so glad that you’re with us today for this Mother’s Day weekend. I realize it’s kind of a strange Mother’s Day and a lot of us are not able to be with our moms in the way that we had hoped we might be able to be. But maybe you are. Maybe your mom is actually in the room. Maybe you’re one of those lucky few, or maybe there’s just a mom in the room with you. And so, I want you to do this right now. Why don’t you just find the closest mom and give her a hug and tell her Happy Mother’s Day. If you’re by yourself, go ahead and tweet it out right now. But moms, we love you and we recognize how high and how hard a calling motherhood can be.
And so before we get into our message today, I would just love to pray a blessing over all the moms out there if you’d all join me. God, thank you so much for the moms in our lives, both the moms by biology and those women who have worked so hard and sacrificed so much to raise all of us up to be the men and the women that we are. For all of them we are so, so grateful. Lord, I realize that in this season, it’s still good for a lot of people, but I think it’s particularly hard right now for moms, especially for those moms that have small children at home. And so, Lord, for any mom out there who’s just feeling like she’s running on fumes, I pray that you would fuel her up with your power. For any mom that is feeling like she’s just coming to the end of her rope, that you would lengthen that rope supernaturally and give her just a supernatural patience. And for all those moms that are feeling anxious and afraid, Lord, would you speak to their hearts and speak courage to them and remind them that they are warriors who contend every day for the hearts and the minds of their children. In the name of Jesus, amen.
Moms, I got a special blessing for you today. I’m so glad you’re with us today. I hope your kids are with us as well. If not, you might want to go get them real quick because this gift that I have for you is actually a Word of God to your kids and you want to make sure that they don’t miss this. So, if you need to pause things and go get them, whatever you need, or just yell right now, get in here, whatever. But you want to make sure your kids hear this. This is the Word of God from Ephesians 6 chapter, verse 1. Here’s what God says to all the kids out there, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right.” So, moms, you are welcome. Feel free to use that as much as you need to. God has said to all kids out there, you have to obey your parents. That’s the right thing to do. Now, it’s also probably helpful for the kids to understand that it’s not just the right thing to do, it also has rewards associated with it. In fact, this is what God goes on to say. He says, “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with a promise, meaning it’s the first of the Ten Commandments that has a reward associated with it. It’s the first of those Ten, right? The big Ten, honoring your father and mother is in God’s top 10 list, right? So, obviously, it’s very important to God. And as a reward for that, he says that you’re going to get this when you do it. He says, “So that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on earth,” right? So that it may go well with you and you may enjoy long life on the earth. That’s a blessing. It’s a traditional Hebrew blessing. It’s actually, if I can geek out for a minute, it’s not that different, very similar actually to what Spock used to say. Remember Spock, right? He would say, “Live long and prosper.” Basically, the same thing. It’s blessing for a better life.
And so, basically, what’s being said here is that obedient children lead better lives, right? That’s the blessing. That by obeying our parents, we find ourselves moving into the blessing of God and the better life that comes from that. Obedient children lead better lives. Why is that? Well, I think there’s a spiritual reason and then there’s a practical reason. Spiritually speaking, it’s a promise from God. And so, this is something that God will deliver to those who honor him by honoring their mother and their father. He blesses them with a better life. So, there’s a spiritual side to it. But there’s also a practical side to this and that is that obeying our parents teaches us to limit the destructiveness of our selfishness. Let me say that again. It’s really important to understand, is that learning to obey our parents, obeying our parents teaches us to limit the destructiveness of our selfishness. So, here’s the problem. We’re all sinful. We’re all born that way. And unfortunately, sinfulness and selfishness are two sides of the same coin. They go hand in hand. In fact, the essence of sin is in fact selfishness. And so, we’re all not only sinful, we’re all also selfish by nature. And unfortunately, selfishness does not lead to a good life. It certainly doesn’t lead to the kind of blessed life that God is talking about that he wants us to experience. Selfishness gets in the way of that all the time, right? Selfishness keeps us from making and having good friendships. Selfishness definitely interferes with our ability to succeed at school. Selfishness gets in the way of us doing well in teams. Selfishness keeps us from having successful careers.
Selfishness blocks us from having healthy, satisfying, fulfilling marriages, and ultimately, selfishness really puts us at odds with God, right? It’s really hard to love and to worship and to serve God when we’re driven by selfishness because the reality is you’re not the king of the world. I’m not the king of the world. There’s only one King of the world, that’s Jesus and it’s not us, right? But selfishness kind of puts ourselves forward as the king of the world, and so selfishness gets in the way of all of our earthly relationships and it big time gets in the way of our relationship with God. But as we learn to obey our parents, especially as small children, what we’re doing is we’re beginning to limit the destructiveness of our selfish. We’re beginning to force ourselves to put that selfish impulse aside and to learn how to function without giving into its every driving call. Okay?
And here’s what happens then is that as we learn to obey our parents, that sets the stage for learning how to honor everybody who has authority over us. And it’s not just God who has authority over us. We all have lots of different people who end up in positions of authority over us. We might have teachers or coaches or bosses, right? All kinds of people have authority over us. Government officials have authority over us. And here’s the thing that when we learn how to honor our parents, how to obey our parents, it sets the stage for living in a way that honors every authority that we will find in our lives. And when we honor the authorities, they’re much more inclined to bless us here. Here’s an important principle. The more that we honor those in authority over us, the more likely they are to use that authority to bless us. Does that make sense? Really important principle. The more that we honor those in authority over us, the more likely they are to use that authority to bless us. That’s true of earthly authorities. It’s also true of God. And that’s why obedient children lead better lives. Both a spiritual and a practical side to that.
Now, before I move on, I think it’s probably important to recognize that there’s an interesting progression here. Paul moves from… He says, “Obey to honor.” And I think that progression actually follows the progression of a child growing up to be an adult because the reality is that small children are called to obey their parents. That’s not necessarily true for adults. Okay? I’m not supposed to obey my mom and my dad in the same way that I was when I was living in the house under their authority. But adults are still called to honor their parents. Okay? Not necessarily to obey, but to honor. And so, this is something that we still have to pay attention to even as adults. In fact, Jesus himself spoke about the importance of continuing to honor our parents even as adults.
We can spend a lot of time unpacking that but let me just give you two quick things. One way you honor your parents is by continuing to connect with them, okay? They miss you when you move out. My oldest daughter just bought a condo and she moved out and I miss her and I love when she texts me or calls me. I love it. Okay? So, kids, even though you might be adults, you can honor your parents, your mother and your father by connecting with them. The other thing you can do is you continue to serve them. Remember, this whole section of Ephesians that we’re working through in this series is unpacking the surprising secret to every relationship ever, which is Ephesians 5:21, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” And even as adult kids, we can till submit to our parents by serving them, by sacrificing for them. You may know what that looks like in your context. Let me just say this to my mom who I think is probably watching out there. Mom, I will continue to be your tech support as long as necessary. All your tech problems bring them to me, and I’ll continue to serve you by being your tech support. I bet some of you can probably relate to that, but that’s just one way that we continue to serve our parents and therefore to honor them.
Now, here’s what’s really interesting to me. Throughout this section of Ephesians as Paul’s unpacking this secret to every relationship ever, which is submit to one another, he always starts with the relationship with the person who’s most obviously under someone’s authority, and then he turns it around and then he talks to the person who is actually most obviously over the other person. But he says, but you’re still supposed to serve them. You’re still supposed to support them. You’re still supposed to submit to them, even though it looks different for different relationships. And so, he started with kids here, but then he says to parents that you still have to sacrifice for your kids. You still have to serve your kids; you still have to submit to your kids. And here’s what it looks like. He says, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children. Instead, bring them up in the training and the instruction of the Lord.”
Now, he’s speaking to fathers directly, but he means fathers and mothers. I think there’s probably two reasons why he speaks directly to fathers only. First off, it was a patriarchal culture that he was writing to, meaning it was a father-centric culture and it was often the case that you would address father and mother by speaking directly to the father. But also, because I think that what he’s talking about here is something that fathers are particularly prone to do. Fathers are particularly prone to exasperate their children. Now, that doesn’t mean mothers don’t. In fact, we’ll talk today about how mothers can do that and how they can avoid doing that. But fathers have a particular temptation. And I think to understand why I say that, you need to understand what exasperate means. And here’s what it means. To exasperate is to provoke someone to anger by using your power to dominate them. Okay? To exasperate is to provoke somebody to anger by using your power to dominate them, to hold them down, to keep them under control, to be in charge of them. Right? And I think fathers can be a little prone to do that. It’s not just fathers, again, but it is something that I think dads, just men in general are often tempted to do. We are tempted to use our power to dominate. And really then what Paul’s doing is he’s giving us a contrast in parenting styles because he says, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children. Instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Well, what does bring them up mean? Well, bring them up means, it means use your power to cultivate. It means, use your power to cultivate, not to dominate, okay? Rather than using your power to dominate them, it means use your power to provide and to protect and to direct so that they move forward and become everything that God designed them to be. That’s what it means to bring them up.
And so really what’s happening here is Paul is contrasting two very different parenting styles. One parenting style will uses the power to dominate and that leads to exasperation. The other parenting style uses their power and authority as parents to raise them up, to help them be everything that God intended them to be. Okay, so how do we do that? How do we use our powers to cultivate? Well, he says, “Bring your kids up, bring them up.” He said, “Bring them up in the training and the instruction of the Lord.” And listen carefully because this is very important. It’s often misunderstood. When he says bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord, he’s not telling you to teach them Bible verses or to have daily family devotionals with them. He’s not telling you, this is the content you’re supposed to communicate to your kids. Now, teaching them the Bible and having family devotions, that’s good stuff. I’m not saying don’t do it, but that’s not what he’s talking about here.
What he’s saying here basically is you need to parent your kids the way that God has taught you to parent them. Okay? These are boundaries for our parenting. “Keep your parenting,” he says, “inside the training and instruction of the Lord. Parent your kids the way that God has taught you to parent them.” Okay? In other words, don’t follow the world’s model of what to do with power. Don’t follow the world’s model of using power to dominate people, whatever that relationship looks like, but especially in the context of kids, right? Instead, he says, use God’s model. Take a look at what God did and you follow his example. In other words, what he’s really saying is use the way God treats us as a model for treating those that you have influence with. And I say influence and not just authority there because I think this applies not just to parents, it applies to every person who has the opportunity to speak into the life of a younger person. Whether you’re a coach or a teacher or an employer or whatever it is, if you have the opportunity to speak into the life of somebody that’s younger than you, you need to follow the same example. And so, use the way that God treats us as a model for treating those that you have influence with.
So, what does that look like? How do we do that? Well, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to talk about a couple of ways that I think, especially as dads, we need to pay attention to the example that God’s set. And then we’re going to talk about a couple of ways that maybe it works for moms in ways that are unique to them. But let’s start with something that I think dads need to pay a lot of attention to. And then the first one is this. Here’s how you can not exasperate your kids. Here’s how instead you can cultivate them, not dominate, but cultivate. Use love as a fuel rather than a reward. So important. Use love as a fuel rather than a reward. See, so often in the world we use love and we use affection and even praise and encouragement as a reward when people have complied, as a reward when people have done what we wanted them to do or when they’ve performed. And sometimes we carry that into our parenting relationships, and we got to change that.
The reality is, check this out, this is how God did it. This is the Book of 1st John 4:19, listen, “We love because he first loved us,” right? God’s love for us is a fuel that leads us to be able to live lives that are holy and pleasing to him. We don’t live holy, pleasing lives and therefore he loves us. We love because he first loved us. It comes from his love. How about this, I love this. This is Romans chapter 2. “God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance.” Do you know that? God’s kindness leads us to repentance. See, God didn’t love us because we performed. He didn’t love us because we did all the right things. He didn’t love us because we were good enough. His love for us actually led us to turn away from our sin. That’s repentance. It led us to a relationship with him. His love, his kindness led us there because God uses love and affection as fuel, not as a reward, and we need to do the same thing.
I was so fortunate. I grew up in a home where my dad told me on a regular basis, “I love you.” I thought that was normal. And then I grew up and I realized so many kids grew up in a home where neither mom nor dad said, “I love you,” but a lot of them, maybe mom said it, but dad didn’t. And dads, we’ve got to change that. We have to change that. I found it such a powerful truth that I found that I say it to people just because I know how much they need to hear it. I say it to staff, I say it to people in the congregation, I say it to my kids, I say it to my wife, I say it to friends. And it’s a little weird sometimes. They’re like, “What? You love me?” But there’s so much power in it. It’s fuel. It shouldn’t be a reward and dads, we got to pay attention to that.
Second thing that I think dads need to pay attention to is this. We need to sacrifice for them more than we demand from them. We need to sacrifice for them more than we demand from them. Now, I know a lot of dads out there are going, “What are you talking about? I sacrifice for my kids all the time. I work so hard for them.” And maybe you do, and that’s awesome. If that’s your motivation, good. You’re in great shape. But sometimes we count as sacrifice what is, in fact, self-service.
I remember counseling with a dad once who was really struggling with his relationship with his kids. And he was in my office and over and over again, he kept pounding the table going, “I just sacrifice over and over. I work so hard for them. It’s all for them. It’s all for them.” And I don’t know if it was the Holy Spirit, but suddenly I just got a little tired of it and I broke in and I said, “Hey, I just got a question for you. Let me ask you something. Would you go to work if you didn’t have kids?” And he said, “Well, yeah.” I said, “Would you go to that particular job if you didn’t have kids?” He said, “Well, yeah, I love my job.” I said, “Would you work as hard if you didn’t have kids?” “Well, yeah, probably so.” Then I went, “Then that’s not a sacrifice. It’s not a bad thing, but you can’t count it as a sacrifice if you would do it without your kids.” Listen, you can only count as a sacrifice what you don’t want to do and wouldn’t do if you didn’t have kids.
Listen, this is cliché, but it’s so important. Most kids don’t really care about the work that you do. They care about the time that you spend with them and the things that you do with them after work is over. And sometimes we kind of talk ourselves out of having to do any of that because we’re like, “Well, I went to the job.” Yeah, you would have gone to that job anyway. Listen, we need to sacrifice more for our kids than we demand from them. That’s what God modeled for us. I love this. This is also Romans 5:8. He says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. He sacrificed for us.” John 3:16, “For God so loved the world,” fuel not a reward, “He so loved the world that he gave or sacrificed his only Son.” Right? That’s a sacrifice for us. That’s the model we’re given. As dads we need to pay attention to those things. Now, those are probably true for everybody. They’re particularly true for dads, I think, but I think they’re true for everybody.
But I think there’s some ways that moms also need to pay attention to the model that God has given us. And I’m not a mom and so I’m not able to speak to that with any kind of authority. And so, I’m really excited to invite Michele Cushatt. Michele, would you come up? Michele is a Christian author. She’s a Christian speaker. She works with Michael Hyatt in leadership development, a very gifted communicator. But maybe most importantly, and I think she said it was most important thing, is she’s part of the Mission Hills family. And she and her family attends here on the Littleton campus. And so, Michele, so glad to have you with us. Would you bring a word for our moms out there?
Michele: I would love to, thank you. It was actually just a couple years ago right here in this room. I’ll never forget it. I was sitting right over here on the left-hand side. It was a Saturday evening service. I had my husband and my three youngest children with me. And in addition to that, this particular weekend, one of my grown children had come home for the weekend. He’s been in the Air Force for a number of years and he got leave. And so he came home and joined our family for the weekend. And as a mom to have a child that I haven’t seen in a while, not only come home but to sit in church with me, it just doesn’t get much better than that. But the reason I remember that night wasn’t so much about the fact that he came home for the weekend, what I remember about that night is what was said during service.
Craig was standing up here speaking, and at the beginning of his sermon he said, “How many of you grew up believing that you had to be good for God to love you?” I remember I got really quiet and kind of looked around the room to see if anybody was moving. It was like everybody was trying to figure out if it was a trick question or not. And so he asked you again, he said, “With a show of hands, how many of you grew up believing that you had to be good for God to love you?” Well, that’s when I found my courage and I very slowly raised my hand in the air. And I remember hearing the rustle of movement in the auditorium as many, many other men and women in the room raised their hand. But before I could even get my arm all the way up, I was distracted by noise that was coming right next to me on my right-hand side. And my 20-year-old son was raising his hand in the air as well. You can imagine at that moment, I was crushed. If I had a list of things that I want to get right in this life, motherhood would be at the top of the list. And in that moment, as I looked at my son’s hand in the air and my hand in the air, I felt like I had failed. I’d blown it.
You see, for most of my life I dreamed of being a mom. Being a mom was a dream as long as I could remember, and yet motherhood didn’t quite turn out like I thought. When I was in my 20s, I had my first child. However, a year and a half later, I watched my husband drive away for the last time, about six days before Christmas while I held my one-and-a-half year old in my arms. At that moment I became a single mom. By the end of my 20s, I met another man who found himself unexpectedly divorced as well. And he had two children and we thought, “Hey, wouldn’t it be fine to make a blended family? I’m sure it’s just like the movies. It’s easy, right?” We had no idea how complicated it would be. And so overnight, I became a stepmom. And then when I was 39 years old, I got a phone call from a doctor. Ordinary Tuesday in November, and that doctor told me I had cancer, cancer of the tongue. You can hear the lisp when I speak. Over the next five years, I would have cancer three times. Each time more severe, more significant, more devastating to me physically than the time before. And that’s when I became a sick mom. A mom who has chronic pain, who lives with permanent functional disabilities, who has all kinds of health complications and everything else.
And in the middle of single motherhood, step motherhood, sick motherhood, my husband and I felt God calling us to take in three little preschoolers, twin four-year-olds and a five-year-old who had their own hard story. That’s one thing I’ve learned that my hard story became a means for me to connect with other people with hard stories. And in my 30s and 40s we became, I became a foster adopt mom of 3 sweet children who, man, they had their own suffering. So, I’ve had biological motherhood, I’ve had stepped motherhood, single motherhood, foster adopt motherhood, sick motherhood, and I can tell you, for me, motherhood is complicated. I have six children. Just take a minute to let that sink in. Six children. I told you, I had dreamed of having a house full of children, but I didn’t quite anticipate six. I’m often asked to speak on Mother’s Day because people assume that I have so many children I must be good at it. But the truth is, I believe God gave me six children because he knew how much I needed the practice. I rarely feel successful as a mother. In fact, speaking on Mother’s Day is one of the hardest things for me to do because it’s probably the area of my life where I feel like I’m stumbling the most.
And this sermon series is all talking about the secret of every relationship. And one thing I’ve discovered over my motherhood journey is a lot of people claim to have the secrets for motherhood. A lot of people will tell you the secrets to raising good children, the secrets to being a good mom, and the secrets to having a guarantee that everybody’s going to turn out okay and be healthy, responsible adults. And man, it hasn’t quite worked out as easily as everybody told me in all those books and all those messages. But in this message, in this series we’re talking about, there’s one surprising secret. Ephesians 5:21, “To submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” We’ve talked about what it looks like for wives to submit to husbands and husbands to submit to wives and children to submit to parents. But what in the world does it look like for a mom to submit to her children? I would bet you money right now that my children are sitting at home hoping that mom’s submitting to children means that they don’t have to clean their room anymore, or they get to have candy and ice cream for dinner. Not so fast. That’s not going to happen.
And also, it talked about…Craig talked earlier about Ephesians 6:4, not to exasperate our children. I got to tell you, I’m pretty sure I frustrate my children most days. To exasperate, I looked up the definition because I wanted to get really clear on what it means. It is to cause irritation or annoyance. I bet you if you took a poll of my six kids, they would all say that I have irritated or annoyed them at some point. Or to excite the anger of. I excited the anger of my children yesterday when I asked them to clean up the kitchen after they made lunch. I don’t think that’s what this is talking about here. Through exasperation, what Paul is talking about here in Ephesians is often sourced in high expectations. Exasperation is often sourced in impossibly high, unachievable expectations. Expectations that we have for ourselves as mothers but then inadvertently expectations that we put on our children, when we’ve worked so hard trying to be so good and to do everything right and we feel like we can never measure up.
Mother’s Day is often a mixed bag for me because rather than feeling celebrated, I’ve got the same message in my head that tells me, “I just never can do it quite right.” I’ve been mothering now going on three decades. My children are 28, 26, 23. And wait for it, you’re ready for this, 13, 13, 13. Yes, I am quarantined at home during a global pandemic with three 13-year-olds. So, anytime y’all want to feel sorry for me, I’ll take it. I should definitely get a gold star. That’s what I keep telling myself. Man, it’s tough. But in my three decades of mothering, I finally have boiled down in my heart what I need to most get right on my mothering journey. I need to anchor myself to two truths. Are you ready for this?
The first truth is that God always prioritizes the relationship over the rules. I need to anchor myself deep into this because I have been spending so much of my life, the 48 years of my life, working so hard to be good. Remember that first service, I was convinced that in order for God to love me, I better get it all right and I lived that way, but then I started to parent that way too. However, if you and I want to learn that secret to submitting to one another, we parent like God does. And God always prioritizes the relationship over the rules. Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this, that while we were still rule breakers, while we were still sinners, while we were still not getting it all right, he died for us.” The relationship was more important than the rules. It doesn’t mean the rules aren’t important, so children, don’t hear that. You still have some good rules you need to follow, but the relationship always comes first over the rules in God’s heart. That’s how he parents us.
But the second truth is equally important. God always prioritizes the person over the performance. God always prioritizes the person over the performance. One of the passages in Scripture that has brought me the most encouragement over the last few years is Paul in Romans 7 talks about his desire to do what is right, his desire to do good things, to be a rule follower, to honor God with his life. And yet the way that his performance doesn’t always match up. And this is what he says, starting in verse 15, he says, “I don’t understand what I do, for what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate, I do.” And in verse 24 he goes on to say, “What a wretched man I am.” I can’t tell you how many times at the end of the day when I feel like I’ve blown it as a mom, I could easily say, “What a wretched woman I am.” And he says, “Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to dust. Thanks be to God who delivers me through Christ Jesus, our Lord.”
You see, our performance will always be a bit spotty. I wake up every day with great intentions. In fact, often on Mother’s Day what happens is I double down and make promises to be a better mom. I make promises to spend an hour of quality time with each of my children. And when you have six, that’s a lot of time. Or I make a commitment, I’m going to sign up to be room mom at school, or I’m going to spend more time reading books before bed, or I’m going to sing them songs. I’m going to do this and that. And I think that’s what it means to be a good mom. And what happens is, impossible expectations, exasperation, frustration, disappointment for everyone. And God is saying here that the secret here is to bring them up in the training and the instruction of the Lord. Do you know what that is? That’s God’s style of parenting and it’s all about the Gospel, that while we were yet sinners, while we couldn’t get our act together, while we still tried so hard and yet failed so much, God said, “I love you anyway. You are worth dying for.”
If there’s one thing you and I need to get right as moms, and yes, it’s good to teach them manners and teach them how to pick up their dishes and to fold their clothes and all that, if there’s one thing that we want to get right as moms, it’s to help them understand the love of God that never fails. But in order to offer that kind of grace, in order to offer that kind of love to them, we first must believe it and receive it for ourselves. We cannot communicate a love that we don’t know. We cannot pass on an awareness of the extravagance of God’s affection if we have not sat in it and received it and be covered with the ocean of it ourselves. This is the good news. Without the Gospel at the center of our mothering, then our drive for good behavior in ourselves and our children will become a source of impossible expectations, exasperation, and exhaustion. However, when you and I keep the Gospel at the core of our center, when that becomes our fuel as moms, then good behavior becomes an expression of an abundant, overwhelming, overflowing love that just spills out.
Remember that Saturday night service I told you about sitting right over here? I didn’t finish the story. My hand was up in the air. Yes, I grew up believing that I had to be good for God to love me. My 20-year-old son, his hand was in the air and my heart sunk. I remember I reached over and I put my hand on his knee and I whispered, “I’m sorry, babe. I’m so sorry. I know better now.” And he looked at me and he put his hand on top of mine and he said, “That’s all right, Mom. I know better too.” This is the good news. It’s not all dependent on us. We have a God who has given it all to rescue his children. That’s me and that’s you. Family is to be the kind of place that so fully understands the Gospel, so fully understands the extravagant love of God that is safe to say, “I’m sorry. I know better now.” Being a good mom is less about your good performance and more about you being anchored in the love of a good God.
Romans 8 says it this way. I’ve spent so much time over the last few years trying to get these words to sink deep into my heart because my hope is the more that I believe it, the more that I receive it, the more I’ll be able to give it and pour it out on my children. And Romans 8 says this, “What then will separate you from the love of God? Shall trouble, or hardship, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” No. In all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. We’re not conquerors because of our good behavior. We’re not conquerors because of our good performance. We’re not conquerors because we check off every box that we think mothers need to do. We are conquerors because we have a God who loves us that much and his love fuels us. And then that section of Scripture goes on to say, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future nor any power, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.” You want to do one thing for your kids this Mother’s Day, you want to do one thing that will make the difference in their lives, then you sink into that. You soak up every bit of that truth and then you let that love fuel your mothering.
Craig Smith: Wow. Thank you, Michele.
Michele: My pleasure.
Craig Smith: That was awesome. That was so rich. That was so good. These are pretty simple principles we’re talking about today. Whether you’re dealing with the principles for kids or the principles for parents, they’re simple principles. They’re a little harder to live out in practice, right, so we would like to give you some questions you may be able to wrestle with. So, yeah, what does this look like in our lives? So, let me start with a question for kids, all the kids out there. Here’s the question, how can I honor my parents whether I’m still under their authority or not? So, whether you’re still at home where you have to obey them or you’re out of the house, but you’re still called to honor them, well, what does that look like for you? And what would that look like practically right now for you to take a step of honoring your parents in that way to do what’s right, but also to set yourself up for the rewards from God that come from that?
And here’s a question for dads. Hey, what’s one thing I need to do to fuel my kids with my love and affection? Remember, we don’t want to reward them with love and affection. We want to fuel them with it as God did for us as well, right? So maybe it’s just saying, “I love you.” Maybe that’s something that hasn’t been a part of your vocabulary and it needs desperately to be part of your vocabulary. Or maybe there’s some other way that you can do it to fuel your kids towards everything that you long for them to be rather than rewarding them when they comply with what you think that they should be. Maybe a couple of questions for moms, Michele.
Michele: Yeah. Absolutely. And speaking for moms, some of you may be mothering in unusual ways, so I’m talking to any woman who’s mothering in any way, shape or form because it’s all important. First question, on a scale from 1 to 10, how confident are you that God’s love for you is not dependent on your performance? How confident are you, 1 being not confident at all, 10 being extremely confident, how confident are you that God’s love for you is not dependent on your performance? Your answer to that question is really important because ultimately God wants you to get to 10 where you know without a shadow of a doubt that nothing will compromise his love for you. And the next, moms, what is one way, just one, let’s not lace yourself down with a list of 30 changes you need to do for your kids this week. That’s not solving anything. Moms, what is one way you can communicate that same kind of extravagant, unconditional God love to your children this week?
Craig Smith: Hey, whether you’re a kid or you’re a parent or everywhere in between, whether you have somebody in authority over you or you have authority over somebody, let’s lean into these principles this week. And let me pray for us as we do that. Would you join me? Hey, God, we come to you as a people who recognize that we are selfish and that there is a destructiveness to that. And so many of us are able to say thank you for parents who parented us in the way that you parented them. And they parented us according to that model, Lord. And we’re so, so grateful for those of us who have had that blessing in our lives. And we ask that you would give us the ability to do that same thing for our kids, to love them in the way that you have loved us. Lord, for those who are out there that are listening to this and they’re going, “I don’t even know what you’re talking about because, man, I didn’t have that kind of a model. My parents, they dominated. My dad, he dominated. My mom dominated.” And maybe even for you, maybe this idea that God is a loving Father who loved you before you’ve done all the right things, that he loves you in spite of the fact that you are a sinful, selfish person. Maybe that’s radical news to you and maybe that’s why you’re here. Maybe that’s why you’re listening to this.
In fact, if you’re a follower of Jesus, would you do something for me? Would you just start praying for the people that are listening to that message and struggling with that truth? And if that’s you, if you’re struggling with it, let me speak to you for a moment. Here’s what you need to understand. It doesn’t matter what kind of parents you had; you have a God who is a good, good Father. You have a God who loves you in spite of your sin, and in fact, a God who loves you so much, he sent his own Son to die for you. Jesus came. He lived a perfect life. He went to the cross to pay in his blood with his life the price of our sin, the price of the selfishness that drove us away from God that gets in the way of all of our relationships. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for you to set you free. That’s how much God loves you. And as if that weren’t enough, he allows you to take hold of all of the promises, of forgiveness, of salvation, of eternal life, and of a relationship with a loving Father that begins now and goes on for all eternity. You’re allowed to take a hold of those simply by an act of faith. By saying yes to what Jesus did on the cross and bringing it into your life by saying yes to a relationship with him.
And if you don’t have that relationship, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have it right here right now. If you’ve never said yes to a relationship with Jesus, to a relationship with a good and loving Father, here’s how you do it. Wherever you are, you can say this out loud, you can say it in the quietness of your heart, it doesn’t matter, but say it with sincerity. Speak these truths to God and I’ll show you what you say. You’re just going to say this:
God, I’ve done it wrong. I’ve definitely not been good enough. I’m sorry. Thank you for dying for me, Jesus. Thank you for loving me enough to pay for all the ways I wasn’t good enough with your good and perfect life. Thank you. I believe you rose from the dead and I understand maybe for the first time that I don’t have to be good enough because you’ve already done what’s necessary. You offer me salvation and forgiveness by faith. That’s really good news. Jesus, I you’re need your forgiveness and so I’m giving you my faith. I’m putting my trust in you. I’m going to follow you. Jesus, come into my life. I’m yours from now and forever. God, I call you my good Father. Amen.