This parenting gig is tough. There is no way I could do it on my own wit or wisdom.
Yet, it’s sort of my gut instinct to fix things (broken toys, sore feelings, bad behavior). So much so, that sometimes I view myself as a sidekick to the Holy Spirit.
But while reading John 16 recently, I discovered that’s not necessarily a good thing.
In John 16:8-11, Jesus breaks the news to his disciples that they’re about to receive the ultimate Helper for living out their faith. Listen to some of the jobs the Holy Spirit will have:
“And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”
Did you catch that? The Holy Spirit will be responsible for showing people their sin, showing them what true righteousness looks like, and where to get it. That’s a paraphrase, but here’s some bullets if you’re type A like me:
- The Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin (so they might believe).
- The Holy Spirit will convict the world of righteousness (because they need to be able to see what true righteousness is).
- The Holy Spirit will convict the world of judgment (so they might experience victory over death and evil).
This passage makes me realize several things about motherhood:
1. WE CAN’T MAKE OUR KIDS STOP SINNING
Forget x-ray vision or the ability to fly, that’s a super power I wouldn’t mind possessing! Not even the best parent can keep their child from sinning.
Should we try to guide our kid’s behavior by pointing them to the true righteousness in Christ? Of course. But we can’t make them stop sinning any more than we can make them believe in God.
On one hand – that’s scary! It means we have no guarantee of fool-proof parenting. On the other, it means that we can safely trust in the Helper who has been tasked with bringing conviction of sin. So, instead of mini sermons and sanctified tongue-lashing, maybe I should try praying for some Divine backup.
2. WE CAN’T MAKE OUR KIDS WALK IN RIGHTEOUSNESS
Even after our children come to experience the gospel for themselves, we’ll find that parenting struggles continue.
The process by which our children grow in grace and love of the gospel, putting on the righteousness of Christ will be arduous. Nagging words won’t keep a wayward child from the wrong path. Should we try to instill in our child a hunger for the holy things of God including His Word and work in the church? Of course.
But we must also remember to trust in the Helper who has been tasked with bringing about spiritual growth. He is the Gardner with the eternally green thumb. Not me.
3. WE CAN’T MAKE EVERYTHING RIGHT FOR OUR KIDS
Mothers can rob the Holy Spirit of His role when we try to make everything right for our children.
We can’t always keep our kids from experiencing suffering, persecution, or disappointments. We are not the Judge who repays vengeance and brings justice to the world. Should we try to protect and preserve our children from needless harm? Of course!
But we must also remember to trust the Helper who knows the hearts of all men and is tasked with whispering divine comfort to the hearts of our children.
Overall, I think Christian parenting has as much to do with recognizing our God-ordained limitations as it does our God-enabled responsibilities.
Ultimately, Christian parenting is about surrendering control and personal expectations to the One who is able to bring about real-life change. It’s also about giving the Spirit some room to work in your child by covering them with prayer, providing strong biblical foundations, and demonstrating the gospel in action each day in the home.
For that reason, I have to remind myself daily not to supplant the role of the Holy Spirit! He doesn’t need a partner in bringing about the Father’s justice!
But if you’re still having trouble taking off your Super Mom cape, here’s a few ideas from the text for surrendering control to our Helper:
- Let the Spirit guide you by listening to Him (John 16:13)
How do you do that? By letting the Spirit illuminate God’s Word! “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.”
- Let the Spirit work in your life by accepting what He declares (John 16:14-15)
Like I said, this parenting gig is tough. Behavioral issues, sin issues, relationship issues. Ug!
Sometimes it’s easier to try to fix circumstances surrounding our children (and sometimes we really should try to do so!) But John is reminding us that God works in poor circumstances for a very important reason – so He gets the glory. Finding the glory of God in difficulties is a painful but freeing way to let the Spirit work. “He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.“
- Let the Spirit comfort you by entrusting Him with your children (John 16:21-22)
When Jesus announced His impending departure from this world, He used a very poignant example of the joy of motherhood.
In John 16:21-22 he said: “A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.”
This parenting gig is tough. Like groan-from-your-gut tough. But it also promises great joy.
When we are in the midst of struggles with our children, there is no quicker way to experience God’s promise of joy than to trust the Helper who has been tasked with obligations out of our control. He is our Teacher, Advocate, Comforter and more.
And He doesn’t need a sidekick.
Do you suspect you supplant the role of the Holy Spirit? What do you do to let this Divine Teacher, Comforter, and Advocate guide your interactions with your kids?