The purpose of parenting is godly offspring.
Malachi 2:15 says, “And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring.” The purpose of parenting is godly offspring. Godly offspring rather than good offspring is the goal. In human terms, godly people are good, but not all good people are godly. Godly means the person becomes more and more like God.
Good kids are a delight. They are moral, respectful, diligent, trustworthy, well-mannered and well-manicured. Many times they turn out successful. In other words, they look really good on the surface. When kids look and sound good on the surface, parents can sometimes sit back, breathe a sigh of relief, and get lulled into thinking the goal has been met. The desire for good kids is a God-given desire. It’s a right desire. But good is not the goal…godly is.
Goodness is a practice, godliness is a state of being. Goodness can be man-made, godliness is divinely developed. Goodness can occur from discipline and conditioning, godliness only happens when the Holy Spirit takes ownership of a heart. Goodness can take shape in a relatively short period of time, godliness takes time. I’m not saying goodness is the opposite of godliness. What I’m saying is that one is on the surface while the other runs deep. As parents we can’t stay on the surface. It’s easier but it doesn’t prepare offspring for a walk with God. When my son’s surface looks great, I feel great. And it could be that all is great, but Jesus had several harsh things to say about Pharisees who looked good on the surface without the heart being affected.
When my son’s surface looks terrible, I can’t get depressed. Remember Moses and David murdered people. They were far from good, but their failures led to a deepened intimacy with God. Peter’s denial of Christ was not good, but it humbled him and put him in touch with his heart issue. We must learn to take our parenting cues from God the Father. He is far more concerned with godliness over the long haul than goodness in the short term. Certainly, He wants us to be good! But He doesn’t let the cart come before the horse, and He is never shaken when His kids do bad things. He disciplines, corrects, rebukes, etc., but He is never shaken.
Millions of people have disciplined themselves into being good. No one has ever made himself godly. The path to godliness is clear. “I am the way” said Jesus. Every godly person rides on the back of Jesus. There is no godliness outside of Jesus. That’s a part of the gospel. Much to my shame, I have been far more concerned with my kids’ surface level goodness rather than heart level godliness. Often times, I settle for producing a well behaved child and miss the opportunity to point him to a relationship with a living, breathing, compassionate, soul satisfying Savior. What that means is that I tell them to “be better” or “do better” on the surface rather than helping them see their complete inability to be transformed from the inside. I miss the gospel. They miss it’s power. Ultimately, there is no such thing as godly children apart from the gospel.
Here’s the point: godliness rarely occurs in young children. Which means parenting is about the long haul. (You just said, “Crud” under your breath didn’t you?) I have met many wonderful, respectful, intelligent, well behaved 10 year old Pharisees in my life. I only recall meeting a handful of godly kids. It’s not that God can’t do it, it just seems to be the exception rather than the rule. Godly offspring is the goal and that takes time. God has never been in a hurry to mold His children to the image of Jesus. So don’t puff up your chest because your kid looks good today, and don’t hang your head because he looks bad tomorrow. Just remember two things: God knows how to make them godly and He’s just getting started.