I know this will comes as a shock to everyone, but I was reading something by John Piper yesterday. Guess what? It was really good. I guess he’s writing a new book on marriage and family and this is a little section from it.
“The most fundamental task of a mother and father is to show God to the children. Children know their parents before they know God. This is a huge responsibility and should cause every parent to be desperate for God-like transformation. The children will have years of exposure to what the universe is like before they know there is a universe. They will experience the kind of authority there is in the universe and the kind of justice there is in the universe and the kind of love there is in the universe before they meet the God of authority and justice and love who created and rules of the universe. Children are absorbing from dad his strength and leadership and protection and justice and love; and they are absorbing from mother her care and nurture and warmth and intimacy and justice and love—and, of course, all these overlap.
And all this is happening before the child knows anything about God, but it is profoundly all about God. Will the child be able to recognize God for who he really is in his authority and love and justice because mom and dad have together shown the child what God is like. The chief task of parenting is to know God for who he is in his many attributes, and then to live in such a way with our children that we help them see and know this multi-faceted God. And, of course, that will involve directing them always to the infallible portrait of God in the Bible.”
This was encouraging, frightening, and helpful all in one to me. As a youth pastor, I really want to see the students that are in my youth ministry know and love God. I spend a decent amount of time and prayer (and should do more of this) thinking about how I can help students realize that a holy awesome God loves them. I want them to know Christ. The reality is, the greatest influence in a kids life is their parents. They have way more direct influence than me. So that’s encouraging when you see good parents. Unfortunately, it’s frightening when you look at how some parents live their lives. I don’t think they understand how damaging they will be to their kids.
The overall encouraging thing is that no matter how bad a situation a kid has grown up in, God is able “to do above and beyond all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).
The entire Piper entry is here