Sep 192013 8 Responses

A Parenting Lesson from Jesus

There is a big theological word which gets used to describe the life and ministry of Jesus—incarnation.

Incarnation is the act by which Jesus, the second person of the Trinity being in the very nature God, took on human flesh and came to earth to live among us (John 1, Philippians 2).

He came to us because we could not go to him. He came to us in order to make us like himself.

The only chance humanity had to truly know God was if God came to us. That happened in the form of the incarnation.

Whenever we think of parenting, this word—incarnation—should be top of mind.

Parents should regularly go to the level of their children in order to build a relationship in hopes of bringing them up to where we want them.

Children cannot come up to us, we must go down to them.

We must go to their level of:

  • understanding
  • cognition
  • emotional intelligence
  • attention

Parents cannot influence children if we stay detached from their world. The only chance we have is to enter into their world and influence them from inside of their own framework.

This takes intention, effort, and skill.

Without a concentrated effort (and a lot of trial and error), parents will remain detached from their children as we stay in our world and they stay in theirs. While we might force them to operate in our worlds—tagging along to formal events, standing quietly as we have adult conversation, etc—we have a much deeper impact when we enter their worlds—pretending to sword fight with empty rolls of paper towels, having a tea party, etc.

incarnationIt strikes me how often my children invite me into their world:

  • “Daddy, will you play with me?”
  • “Daddy, pretend you are the student and I’m the teacher.”
  • “Daddy, let’s go looking for treasure.”
  • “Daddy, you be the blue car and I’ll be the red one.”

Far too often, I miss the invitation. I hear the invitation to play a game, but I miss the true question. They are really asking, “Daddy, will you come down to my world?”

They can’t come up to mine. They don’t have the ability to comprehend:

  • the dying church member
  • the household budget
  • the drama of international politics
  • the pressure of being a husband, father, pastor, citizen

The only chance my children have to truly be with me is if I am willing to come to them.

Thankfully, I have a model for how to do that. Jesus came to us because we could not go to him. He did so with the intention of meeting us where we are and teaching us the important things of life.

He models for me what true parenting seeks to accomplish. The tea parties and wrestling matches are just an avenue through which I get to interact with my child in a way they can fully understand. Yet as I am entering into their worlds, I’m preparing them to live one day in my world.

How has your child been inviting you into their world?

Have you been hearing the invitation?

8 Responses to A Parenting Lesson from Jesus
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