Parenting and the Fear of Man

If there is one thing I’ve learned recently with my intro­duc­tion to bib­li­cal coun­sel­ing is that sin does not show itself out of the blue, the sin was always there but cer­tain sit­u­a­tions bring out what was going in our hearts. I def­i­nitely feel this with the fear of man.

All Chris­tians to some degree will admit deal­ing with the fear of man. It is an almost inescapable real­ity, and there is no won­der why so much of the New Tes­ta­ment deals with this issue. Jesus deals with this issue many times him­self, such as the fol­low­ing excerpt from the Ser­mon on the Mount:

“Beware of prac­tic­ing your right­eous­ness before other peo­ple in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trum­pet before you, as the hyp­ocrites do in the syn­a­gogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by oth­ers. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giv­ing may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:1–4)

These words hit us hard because we desire to be praised by man rather than God. One of the great­est gifts of sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion is weed­ing this out in our lives, and by the Spirit’s aid we are able to turn our ori­en­ta­tion Godward.

One of the areas this sin has shown itself is in par­ent­ing. It was almost as if a switch turned on the moment my daugh­ter was born that I was instantly taken with what oth­ers thought of my par­ent­ing. All of the sud­den I started wor­ry­ing that oth­ers would think less of me if my child mis­be­haved. In Chris­t­ian cir­cles there’s a temp­ta­tion that if you don’t read the right book or attend the par­ent­ing con­fer­ence you will miss out. It was an obvi­ous indi­ca­tor of where my heart was.

I’ve had to learn over the last two years how deal with this prac­ti­cally and bib­li­cally. Here are a few things that have helped me.

  • I remind myself that only God will judge me in my parenting.
  • Con­tin­u­ally remind­ing myself of God’s pres­ence and pur­pose in my life has been foundational.
  • Being hon­est with my wife about this strug­gle has allowed her to help rec­og­nize when it’s a problem.
  • Hav­ing other believ­ers who I trust to speak into my life to encour­age me in my par­ent­ing faith­ful­ness. It’s also impor­tant to be in a church with strong fam­i­lies but resist the temp­ta­tion to com­pare your­self to them or judge those who don’t fit your own ideals.
  • I’ve had to remem­ber that my chil­dren are unique and apply­ing bib­li­cal prin­ci­ples of par­ent­ing might look dif­fer­ent than oth­ers. I don’t want to pro­voke my chil­dren to anger due to my sin.

Here’s hop­ing by the grace of God I can fear Him more than man when tak­ing care of these two stinkers!