Am I the Holy Spirit to my children? I asked Lee this question yesterday as we made the long drive to Carlsbad. His answer was, No, the Holy Spirit can do His job just fine without us.
He’s right, I think. I don’t see any evidence in the Bible of this role for parents. Maybe my lack of knowledge on the role of the Holy Spirit showing up again, but I see this as an important question when considering what happens when the best parenting doesn’t produce the right effects. Now.
Supposing, as Shelley suggested here, that my children understand fully their sin. I’ve done my job to teach them their responsibility, defined terms from God’s Word, evaluated their development and ability to grasp the significance of their actions and thoughts. And still, they choose to sin. What now? HOW CAN I SHEPHERD THEIR HEARTS WHEN THEY DON’T WANT TO BE SHEPHERDED? Where is Ted Tripp when you need him? Am I missing this chapter in his book?
Ahem. Back to the topic. Let’s use bullets to keep my thoughts linear.
- I can (and probably should) regulate the fruits of their sins. We don’t hit, we take turns, we speak respectfully when mom says to obey. This is biblical. God has rules about fruits of sins, too.
- I can (and probably should) continue to make it clear that, although I can regulate what goes on in our household, I cannot regulate what goes on in my children’s hearts. This is also biblical. Jesus made it clear that sin originates from within a person, not without.
- That brings me to the problem: How do I deal with offenses that are motivation-dependent? Truly accidentally knocking a sibling over isn’t necessarily sinful, but shoving a sibling because of conflict is. If a child insists his motives are pure, what should I do?
- If I believe I am the Holy Spirit for my children, I will continue to press the issue. If I do not believe I am the Holy Spirit, I will want to find a point to stop trying to change my children’s heart and let God do it, should He choose to do so. Maybe simply telling the child where my role stops and the Holy Spirit’s role starts is a good place to begin. I guess I know what treasure hunt I’ll be on next.
Shelley Gallamore says
Michelle, I am so glad that you have been processing through this so much as it has made me more aware of the changes I see happening with my kids and discipline as they get older. I have come to realize that sometimes in my quest to “have obedience” from them – the issue was only my preference – not gospel and can become an idol to me and then I sin. Not good. But, I must continue to expect and model obedience to God and his standards.
Those are good thoughts. Maybe as our children get older, we have to be more careful to distinguish between God’s rules, and our family rules (just because we like it this way). I don’t think family rules are bad, though. I’m glad we can learn from each other.