Gospel-Powered Parenting – what’s that all about?

It’s been my desire as a fairly new parent (my wife and I have a beautiful 11 month old daughter named Lucianne and another one on the way!) to read as many books on biblical-based parenting as I can, as well as engage in conversations with parents who are currently raising children who are walking with the Lord or who now have adult children who are walking with the Lord.  For example, I just listened to four-part Parenting Seminar by Dr. Jimmy Scroggins (Pastor of 1st Baptist Church West Palm Beach and long-time mentor and friend) and his wife Kristen, while also reading Shepherding a Child’s Heart and Parenting is Heart Work, both of which were great.  Just this past week I finished William Farley’s book Gospel Powered Parenting: How The Gospel Shapes and Transforms  ParentingIn this post I will share some of the highlights from Farley’s book, while also sharing some of the “ah-ha” moments I had as I perused through the pages. 

In chapter one Farley notes five intellectual submarines that parents must understand, which are (1) “Christian parents must understand that parenting will not be easy, but that the rewards will ultimately make it all worthwhile,” (2) Christian parents are willing to hold God’s sovereignty and their responsiblity in tension,” (3) Christians parents must assume an offensive mindset” – this was one of the more enlightening and challenging ideas in his book and more will be said about this in a later post, (4) Christian parents must understand the power of the new birth and actively and “carefully look for its symptoms” and (5) “effective Christian parents labor to focus their families on God, not their children” (pp. 36-37). 

Farley defines parenting as “the process of transferring our worldview to the next generation” (pp. 42).  Thus, Farley contends that the main objective in parenting is passing the baton of spiritual legacy onto their children or “preparing our children for the day of judgment” (pp. 43).  Eternity hangs in the balance.  And God has ordained fathers and mothers as the primary means in which children are to be exposed and taught about the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The remainder of his book is devoted to fleshing out seven ways that Farley believes makes parents effective.  Without going into too much detail for the sake of time and space and seeing as the Attention Deficit Disorder that many of us struggle with is currently kicking in I’ll simply list them off and strongly urge you to go pick up a copy for yourself or anyone else for that matter that might benefit.  The seven ways in which the gospel affects parents are:

  1. The gospel teaches Christian parents to fear God.
  2. The gospel motivates parents to lead by example.
  3. The gospel centers families in their male servant leaders.
  4. The gospel teaches and motivates parents to discipline their children.
  5. The gospel motivates parents to teach their children.
  6. The gospel motivates parents to lavish their children with love and affection.
  7. The gospel is the solution for inadequate parents.

In summary, Farley’s book has profoundly challenged and encouraged me as a Christian, father, and husband.  Before reading his book, I may have said that I believe the gospel is everything I need to teach and raise up my children but I probably wouldn’t have really meant it; I would have said it because it’s the right thing to say.  But after reading his book, I believe that the gospel is the “power of God unto salvation for all who believe” and it is the gospel that “shapes and transforms parenting.”

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