What is the role of Christian parents?

The cultural changes we’re seeing in our current time “under the sun,” not just in matters of home and family but also in attitudes toward Christian truth and morality, are of the fundamental kind, the ones we couldn’t or didn’t want to see coming but that now we cannot ­avoid—​­shifting attitudes about sexuality and marriage, the prevalence of divorce and fragmentation of families, conflicting ideas about God, challenges to the Bible’s authority, rejection of once widely held Christian standards and beliefs. We’re seeing increasingly dramatic confrontations over some of God’s foundational “solid rock” truths that provide stability and safety from the storms of life. Even though we as believers are building our homes “on the rock” of Jesus’ words, more and more homes built “on the sand” surround us and are vulnerable to the storms (see Matthew 7:24-27). Sandy foundations for many are being eroded and washed away.

David asks in one of his psalms, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (11:3). It’s a good question. What happens when the foundations change? What is our response when our fundamental values are no longer honored? What do we do when the foundations we live by are rejected by those around us, or even by our country? Or when rulers over us do not affirm or protect our cherished ways of life as Christians? As a psalmist of Israel, David’s answer was a simple reminder of what followers of God have always known to ­do—​­to trust God because He reigns from His temple in heaven and will protect the righteous (see 11:4, 7). As king of Israel, though, David could not foresee what his question perhaps presciently foreshadowed for the future of his country.

About four hundred years after David’s reign as God’s king over all Israel, the ancient foundations of the Promised Land, already split into two kingdoms, were being further ­decimated—​­the northern kingdom of Israel had already been conquered and scattered by Assyria, and the southern kingdom of Judah (the land of Jerusalem and the Temple) was less than a decade from being overthrown and exiled to Babylon for seventy years. In the midst of all that change and many prophecies of coming judgment, God offered an indirect answer to David’s Psalm 11:3 question through Jeremiah, a prophet to Judah: “Thus says the Lord, ‘Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will find rest for your souls’” (Jeremiah 6:16).

When the foundations and fundamentals of Christianity that have provided stability for us for so long are rocked by challenge and change, and Kansas seems like a distant memory, the answer is not to panic, or fight, or just give up. The answer is, in fact, to be like Dorothy in ­Oz—​­to adjust and adapt, keep going, keep believing, and never give up the vision of home. The biblical answer to David’s question, and to ours, is to trust that the God we know is faithful and the ancient paths we know are good. In other words, when things are changing around us, we stay faithful and stay the course. In that path alone we’ll find peace in the midst of conflict.

Whatever else we may do in response to the changes happening around us, the one thing we cannot do is neglect our families. The eight heartbeats of lifegiving parenting covered in chapters 2–9 are an attempt to define, at least in part, what “the good way” will be for serious Christian families to walk in as we navigate through our uncertain time “under the sun.” It’s not just about being a “good Christian family” as a testimony to the world, or about combating the growing decline of the biblical family in our culture. It’s about something much more ­important—​­it’s about bringing your children into contact with the living God whom you serve so they will want to serve Him too. It’s about your children finding life in God so they can stay faithful to the faith you pass on to them.

This is an excerpt from the book, The Lifegiving Parent by Sally and Clay Clarkson.  

From the family that brought you The Lifegiving Home and The Lifegiving Table, discover how you can become a parent who gives your child a life worth living for Christ.
In today’s world, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and even paralyzed by the constant flow of parenting advice. We’re flooded with so much practical information that we wonder if we’re choosing the right way. And we may be missing the one thing God really wants us to give to our children: His life. God doesn’t include a divine methodology for parenting in the Bible, but He does provide principles that can enable any faithful parent to bring His life into the life of their home.

In The Lifegiving Parent, respected authors and parents Clay and Sally Clarkson explore eight key principles—heartbeats of lifegiving parenting—to shed light on what it means to create a home where your children will experience the living God in your family. Now parents of four grown children—each with their own unique personality and gifts—Sally and Clay have learned (sometimes the hard way!) that the key to shaping a heart begins at home as you foster a deep and thoughtful God-infused relationship with each child. Filled with biblical insight and classic Clarkson stories, The Lifegiving Parent will equip you with the tools and wisdom you need to give your children much more than just a good Christian life. You’ll give them the life of Christ. 

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