I’m pretty sure God intended the experience of parenting to be humbling. Parenting responsibilities put parents in difficult situations which often highlight a lack of knowledge, self-control, experience, and humility. That’s humbling! Pride easily rises when we are challenged, questioned, or accused by our children. On top of that, many situations, where we have no experience or training, expose us, and we are tempted to fake it so our children don’t know we’re in over our heads.
The weight of parenting responsibilities calls to mind a couple of verses of Scripture in 1 Peter. “Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:5b-7). Certainly, all that parenting requires should be humbling.
The Mighty Hand of God
How do you know when you are under the mighty hand of God? When are you not? I think the situations Peter had in mind had to do with weighty circumstances. Anytime you feel anxious, oppressed, discouraged, helpless, offended, challenged, attacked, accused, ignorant, troubled, or burdened in any way, you are under the mighty hand of God. The underlying truth is that all things, even weighty circumstances, occur because God is working. One of His works is to produce the life and humility of Jesus Christ in His children. Usually this requires some divine pressure or weight, and Peter referred to those circumstances as the mighty hand of God.
God cares for you.
Peter clearly stated what humility looks like when under the mighty hand of God–casting all your care on Him instead of trying to handle it with your own strength and knowledge. Think of difficult circumstances as God’s invitation to draw near to Him and experience His grace–love, wisdom, and faithfulness. When you humble yourself, you’ll discover God’s caring presence. The word for humble entails the idea of lowering yourself. It’s to make low. When you cast your cares on God, you are lowering yourself and exalting Him as your deliverer, preserver, and savior. Obviously, humbling yourself glorifies God.
Seven Aspects of Humility
Some friends from South Korea asked, “Looking back over your parenting years, what do you wish you had done?” I answered, “I wish I had lived with greater selflessness and humility and taught my children to do the same.” My reason for that answer came primarily from studying Philippians. The Holy Spirit had punctuated specific verses which related to the importance of humility and living unselfishly. There is tremendous power in humility, and I hope to encourage you to grow in humility as we look at specific verses in Philippians over the next few months. They will give us insight into how we should live and model the gospel before our children, thus giving them a practical gospel foundation for life. I also suggest that our children will value their relationship with you more if you have a humble attitude as described in Paul’s letter. We are going to consider seven aspects of humility in Paul’s letter to the Philippians which I think most apply to parenting children.
Aspect #1: Only live in a manner worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The first aspect of humility has to do with the purpose for your parenting. Paul mentions only two directions for a purpose in life, one of which is the only option for parents who believe in Jesus Christ. You either purpose to: 1) Live for yourself; or 2) Live in a manner worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Obviously the second life purpose is for those of us who believe in Jesus. Notice what Paul wrote in Philippians 1:27:
Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.
Notice the word only in this passage; the only purpose for our parenting, decision-making, marriages, work, and ministry should be to live in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. If your children profess to be believers, then they also should have the same purpose in their relationship with you. Together, as believers, your relationship should be this: to strive together for the faith of the gospel. You are to conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the life of Christ who saved you. If your child isn’t a believer? Then it’s your privilege and responsibility to show him/her what it means to be a believer by being an example of Jesus’ humility.
Parenting in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ requires humility, because the gospel exists as the fruit of Jesus’ humility. He made the glory of God the purpose of His life. Humility makes Jesus the all-consuming purpose in everything. If we are to live in a manner worthy of the gospel, then we must understand the humility of Christ revealed in the gospel. However, more is needed than just understanding - we need to be intentional about parenting with humility.
Humility must be intentional
In the second chapter of Paul’s letter, we discover that living in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ must be intentional.
Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose (Philippians 2:1-2).
Notice intent on one purpose. You can see where Paul was going with his letter. He was appealing to their experience with Jesus Christ. Having experienced these wonderful benefits, he challenged them to live together intentionally with the purpose of making much of the gospel of Christ by humbling themselves as Jesus did. True children of God have experienced encouragement, consolation of love, fellowship, affection, and compassion in Christ as a result of hearing and believing the gospel. The great apostle explained the humility of Jesus in the rest of his letter, which we will consider in future articles of The Chariot of Fire.
As you think about your parenting, would you say that you have intentionally sought only to live in a manner worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ? That’s a convicting question, isn’t it? I can’t say that I have. Many times in my parenting, I made decisions based on my own interests, desires, and convenience rather than lowering myself to consider how to make much of Jesus and others. My guess is that you could say the same.
The good news of the gospel reveals that God forgives our sin through Jesus Christ. That’s encouraging! In our conviction and failure due to pride, He consoles us with His love. Love covers a multitude of sins. Let’s praise Him for that great blessing! Even though we’ve messed up, He still wants to be with us. He will never leave us or forsake us. That’s amazing, isn’t it? What kind of a God would do that? Only the Humble One, Jesus Christ. So, let’s live in a manner worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ–humble yourself.
Summary and application
- Parenting responsibilities should be humbling.
- Parenting responsibilities and circumstances are the weight of God’s mighty hand upon our lives.
- God cares for us and for our children, therefore we should cast our cares on Him.
- The first aspect of humility in Philippians is that we are to live intentionally in a manner worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ rather than for ourselves.
- Experiencing the fruit of Jesus’humility motivates our humility in parenting.
1.Talk with your spouse about the purpose of your parenting. Write down what you think God sees has been the united, intentional or unintentional, purpose.
2.Draft what you might say to your children in repentance for when you have not parented with the purpose of living in a manner worthy of the gospel.
3.Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the grace and humility to inform your children of what you have learned from Phil. 1:27 and its relationship to parenting.
4.Tell your children about the humility of Christ and what you have experienced through Him after reading Phil. 2:1-2.
5.As a family, thank God for the gospel and its powerful impact in your lives.