Our goal as Christian parents is to produce spiritually mature adults, ready to serve the Lord in any way he directs. We work toward that goal by loving our children as God loves us and by setting a Christ-like example for them to follow. But even then we’ve only begun. The next step is urgent, and may best be introduced by these instructions to Timothy: “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:14-17, NIV).
That last statement describes the very person I want to produce--a man of God thoroughly equipped for every good work. How can I know I brought Josh & JT to that place? We know that parents play a huge role in shaping what their children become. As the twig is bent, so the tree is inclined. God gives us our children for 18 or 19 or 20 years (or in Jarryd Thomas Patterson's case - 21 years and counting!) What we do with those years will stay with them for life and ultimately for eternity.
What part does influence play? Godly influence by itself cannot guarantee the salvation of our children. Salvation is a work of the Holy Spirit. But God does use means. He uses godly parents to help produce godly offspring.
We all know that godly parents may have ungodly kids. There are Esaus and there are Jacobs. But godly parents do make a difference! Paul says “Follow me as I follow Christ.” How many of us as parents would dare to say that to our children? Yet that is precisely what we should say. As a single parent through most of the boys child rearing years, I struggled to know if I was doing my job as a Christian mother. In the early years after my divorce, I believed I had failed as a Christian wife, so why shouldn't I have doubts about being a Christian mother. I made sure that Josh and JT learned who Christ was, and that they knew He was a member of our family. As they were going through Confirmation, as a family we wrote our Family Creed, it still hangs in my home- signed by each of us. It goes:
Each one of us residing in this home is a valued member of our family. We will treat each other with the respect and love due them. We will give encouragement when one of us feels discouraged. We will do our part to see that our house is a home where we can find rest and comfort.
We will lean on each other for support and allow others to lean on us when they are in need of strength. When life becomes chaotic we will remind each other to slow down and replenish the soul.
We will proudly announce that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is a member of our family. We will seek Him out in time of need and give thanks in time of plenty. We will turn to Him daily and seek His guidance.
We will remember that by ourselves we stand alone, but together we stand united and strong.
As the boys grew in stature, I became aware that they were also growing in Christ. Both of them attended Chrysalis during their Sophomore year of high school and sponsored friends when they were eligible, they were active in FCA and Youth activities including counseling at Camp PYOCA and Mission trips. Each gave sermons at church during their Senior year in high school, and JT has given a couple of others since then and he often gave Children sermons. But all this happened while living at home with me, under my influence, under my rules. When the boys left to go off to college I was so thankful to see that one of the first things they did was find a church. This is when I thought 'maybe I didn't do such a bad job after all'. I knew all along I would never be my mother ... who could! But I was starting to believe the job I had started, was being continued by Josh and JT themselves. Could there be a prouder moment?
I realized the answer to that question the past couple of months. And the answer is YES! The proudest moment is when your children have children, and you see that the values you had as a parent, they too have. It is when you walk into their home and see your son, now a father, playing his guitar and singing bible songs to his infant son. It is when your grandson is ill and you see your grown son praying for his well being. It is when you see your son loving his wife as his best friend.
I am a proud mother; for with God's help I have been able to produce two men of God - thoroughly equipped for every good work. God is good.