The title indicates that my book is about parenting, but it's also about humility. Humility is a hard trait to acquire, and once you have it, it's fleeting. It's like the congregation that gave its pastor a special button in recognition for being humble, then promptly took it away when he wore it. I can see this dilemma in myself. I recognize the importance of humility and strive to be humble. As soon as I think I have achieved it, however, I'm tempted to be proud of that accomplishment.
Psychologist and philosopher Carl Jung said "Through pride we are ever deceiving ourselves. But deep down below the surface of the average conscience a still, small voice says to us, something is out of tune." The key word from this quote is 'deceiving' because pride leads us into a false sense of ability. When we are proud and arrogant we are likely to think we can handle something without help. It's often at this time that we are most likely to fail. That's exactly what Proverb 16:18 tells us; 'pride goes before a destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.'
How does this apply to parenting? Too well, I'm afraid. One of the biggest problems we create for ourselves as parents is to think we can handle the difficulties of child-rearing by ourselves, without help. I've been in this situation so I speak from experience. I was good at the skill of getting my children to obey, and I knew a lot about child development and education. This resulted in two grave errors. I did not go to God for His help, nor did I look closely at other parents to find good role models. I didn't think I needed to, and that was arrogant.
I'm convinced that God makes parenting difficult (and our tendency to sin makes it even harder) so that parents will turn to Him for guidance. When we are ready to learn, God is ready to teach us. The Bible says as much in many places. James 1:5 says "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him." There's a key word in this verse too, and it's 'lack'. If you don't know that you lack wisdom, you won't ask. When I'm too confident to pray, I'm in trouble.
Here are three keys for parents to avoid arrogance in parenting.
- Don't compare your parent skills with others. Compare it to the perfection you see in Scripture. If you compare yourself to others, you will likely find plenty of parents doing stupid stuff, and you'll feel superior. You set a really low bar when you do that. Compare instead to the perfect parent that Jesus Christ was. "But He wasn't a parent!" you might say. True, but His love, patience, and wisdom were evident in the way He ministered to the crowd and trained His disciples. When I look at Jesus's perfect social interaction, I see myself in great need of His help.
- Acknowledge that your children will have trials, sin, and failure, regardless of how much you try to protect or insulate them. Since you can't protect them from every bad situation, you must realize they are in God's hands. You simply can't do all the protecting that needs to be done. Turn to God in prayer for your children
- Realize that in God's eyes, you aren't better than your kids. Older maybe, and temporarily wiser, that's true. But your value to God as an eternal soul is no higher or lower than your child's. God wants to move each of you, your child and you, into a closer relationship with Him. You are a sinner, and so is your child, and your role to train and teach is temporary. As they say, the ground is level at the foot of the cross, so be humble as you guide them.
My book, Parenting Unchained, discusses ten deceptions that shackle Christian parents. Each of these deceptions is aggravated by our arrogance. God provides antidotes for all ten deceptions, but a parent must be humble enough to look for them. You can find my book at Amazon or in the Store at this website.