Several weeks ago I had the random opportunity to have lunch with Francis Chan, Husband, Dad, Pastor, and Author, while at Family Life Ministries in Little Rock, Arkansas. What a great guy… but more than that, a genuine Christ-Follower. He challenged me as he talked with Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine about the Holy Spirit. Check out his new book “Forgotten God.”
The job description for “Parent” can seem daunting at times. As parents we are guides, comforters, counselors, nurses, pastors, teachers, coaches, servants, and models of biblical faith, manhood, and womanhood to our children. How is it even possible to be the kind of Dad or Mom that a child needs? Sometimes I wonder, in my utter imperfection, if God can use me positively in the life of my children. Honestly, there are times I don’t know what to say or how to lead. I have days of greatness as a father and an equal amount of days that I would through into the “1 step forward and 2 steps back” category. I am sure you can relate. I am convinced I need help from God to be a parent. I need my own guide, counselor, and comforter.
Consider John 16:5-15. Particularly verse 7. Jesus is helping his disciples understand that he will be leaving to go and prepare a place for them. He will ascend to the throne of Heaven. The disciples are grieving because they love being in the presence of their Lord Jesus. Interestingly Jesus says, “I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” In other words it is better for you to have the Holy Spirit inside of you than it is to have me (Jesus) physically standing next to you… for now.
Forget parenting for a minute. Wrestle with the gift of the Holy Spirit we have been given as followers of Christ. The very presence of God “IN US!” The indwelling of the Holy Spirit explains why a person changes when he or she bows before King Jesus, repenting of sin, begging forgiveness and asking for a new life.
Why do we get freaked when we talk about the Holy Spirit?
Francis Chan, author of “Forgotten God” makes an excellent point. We don’t like to relinquish control. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit in my life should mean that I trust him for direction and guidance to keep me in step with God. The problem is, my American version of Christianity often gets in the way of that. I have to know where I am going and be in complete control. That’s when I find myself less like a fearless leader and more like a lost puppy. When I steer, my life is about me. When the Holy Spirit is in control all aspects of my life point to Jesus.
Back to parenting. When we allow the Holy Spirit to control our lives we become a different parent. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control (Galatians 5:22). Describe your home. Is it permeated with the fruit of the Spirit? If not I humbly submit that we should give control back to the Holy Spirit. It seems like an ethereal concept but really it is just where we place our dependance. How can we rely on the Holy Spirt as the best Parenting Guide ever?
- Seek God by studying the Scriptures: Taking time to read the Bible opens our ears to the direction and voice of the Holy Spirit in our lives. How will we know which way to go apart from taking the time to hear the voice of the Lord? (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
- Practice constant dependence in prayer: Trust the Spirit enough to ask him what direction he would have you go no matter what the circumstance. Practice coming to him in the things you think you can handle on your own. He might have a different path for you to walk. Dont’ quench his leadership in your life but instead seek his direction. You will lead your children differently when you are asking the Spirit where to go. Don’t just go on a feeling. Test the direction against the truth of Scripture.(1 Thessalonians 5:16-21)
- Ask for wisdom from the Holy Spirit: Ask the Spirit to grant you wisdom as a parent. Ask for wisdom every day. God wants you to parent your children wisely. The Holy Spirit is a counselor offering wisdom. Ask for wisdom now so that when you get to the place of uncertainty you know where to turn. The Scripture says that God grants wisdom generously to those who ask.(James 1:5)
- Yield to the Spirit’s conviction and counsel: When you are wrong, yield to the conviction of the Spirit. Conviction, though it feels bad, is actually a good thing. Conviction is the Holy Spirit’s way of drawing you back into right relationship with Jesus. When you have done wrong don’t fight the Spirit’s conviction. Instead quickly let him pull you back to the Father. How else will your children know what it looks like to return to God when you have done something wrong.
- Find comfort and encouragement from the Spirit: The Spirit often acts as a Shepherd guiding his sheep along straight paths. When you are in need of comfort, in the midst of a treacherous journey seek the Spirit. He will comfort you with the steady guidance of the Good Shepherd. (Psalm 23:4)
- Trust the Spirit on the bad days: We will have bad days as parents. In those days we must trust the Spirit as our Helper. The whole premise of the Gospel is that we need help. Left alone we self destruct. God has planted his Helper in our lives. Trust the Helper. Lean on him and depend on him expecting his help. (John 14:26-27)
We have access to the best Parenting Guide ever! It’s not a book, a website, or your favorite parenting guru. Find guidance from the Guide. Find counsel from the Counselor. Find help from the Helper. Live the good days and bad days as a person and as a parent joyfully dependent on the Holy Spirit. He is God’s gift and first choice to lead you. Why not constantly give him control and let him lead? Your children will thank you later and your legacy will be recognized by the fragrant aroma of the Fruit of the Spirit.