Counter-Cultural Parenting: Being a Servant

family hikeThis article features one of our clients, New Creations Boarding School, a Christian residential program for teens located in Richmond, Indiana.

Of course, most parents would say they love their children, but you know the old adage: Actions speak louder than words. They really do! “No one wants to be a doormat” is a common excuse, and we end up acting like tyrants instead of anything remotely looking like the servant-leader our Lord became for us (Matthew 20:28).

Make Your Kids Important

Servants aren’t concerned about their own agendas; they’re completely focused on those they serve. There’s a difference between indulging our kids’ every whim and teaching them an entitlement mindset and prioritizing them. Just like we often ignored our own needs for sleep when our kids were babies and they needed to be fed at inconvenient times, we need to continue to prioritize our kids’ needs and preferences above our own (Philippians 2:3, 4).

father grinWe live in a self-absorbed culture in which even parents struggle to deny their own selfish desires in order to care for their children. As Christ-followers, we have a very different example to follow.

Let Go of Yourself

Servants don’t mind having their identities caught up in those of their masters. Many a parent has complained of feeling as if their before-children identity has been forever erased. God tells us that it’s when we lose our lives that we truly possess them (Matthew 16:25). But it’s not just for changing diapers, playing taxicab driver, and planning graduation parties. It’s when we lose our lives for the sake of the gospel that we truly win them.

Parenting can be part of that. If we’re spending ourselves, losing ourselves, as we teach our kids to model repentant, humble service, then we’re gaining our lives, not losing them.

swing pusherDon’t Ask for Accolades

Servants don’t ask for recognition or require praise in order to continue performing their required tasks. From so-called “humble brags” on Facebook or overtly prideful requests for acknowledgement, it’s tempting to let others know what we’ve gone through or done for our children.

However, we’re not to brag or chase after praise (Proverbs 27:2); in fact, when we draw attention to our service, we pretty much negate its significance (Matthew 6:1). After all, we’re not supposed to parent (or serve others in any way) for others to see and appreciate, but for God who sees both our service and our attitudes (1 Samuel 16:7).

Work Harder than Others

Servants aren’t in it for the title; they have to work. Parenting, like any responsibility, can be done by aiming to do the bare minimum, losing yourself in your calling, or anywhere in between. Idleness or laziness are not part of the picture (Proverbs 31:27). Instead of insisting on large amounts of “me-time,” taking extra opportunities to show love to your children by serving them in sacrificial ways will show them Christ’s love.

But be warned: This kind of servant spirit does not come naturally to any of us, and that kind of love is possible only with God’s help, and experiencing supernatural enablement can be a very exciting thing!

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