“Good parenting, which does what God intends to do, begins with this radical and humbling recognition that our children don’t actually belong to us. Rather, every child in every home, everywhere on the globe, belongs to the One who created him or her. Children are God’s possession (see Ps. 127.3) for his purpose. That means that his plan for parents is that we would be his agents in the lives of those ones that have been formed into his image and entrusted to our care.” Parenting, by Paul David Tripp
I’ve read a lot of parenting books, too many to count. I’m telling you, this one is different. This one isn’t filled with “how-to’s, or helpful suggestions. You’re probably wondering, “then why should I waste my time reading it?” Well, friends, it will bring you to the brink of despair, while filling you with eternal hope for the task ahead. It will motivate you to examine your own heart, push you towards repentance, and encourage you to shift your mindset.
I don’t know where you are on your parenting journey, maybe your children are still very small, or going through high school or married with their own famiies. However, I do know that being a parent presents opportunites and challenges at every turn and in every season.
I will do my best to summarize Tripp’s work, but I highly suggest you pick up a copy and read it on your own, the amazon link is below:
His bottom line is this: We are called to be our child’s ambassador. Tripp makes this simply by presenting the idea that we can have an “ownership” mentality or an “ambassadorial” mentality in relation to our children.
Because of our fallen nature, this ambassadorial mentality does not come naturally – we are sinners after all.
Sin makes us all more natural owners than ambassadors. Sin mades us all more demanding than patient. Sin causes all of us to find punishment more natural than grace. Sin makes all of us more able to see and be distressed by the sin, weaknesses, and failure of others than we are about our own. Sin makes it easier for us to talk at other people rather than listen to them. Here’s what all of this means: the thing that constantly gets in the way of our ambassadorial calling as parents is us! Humbly confessing this is the first step in your ambassadorship.
If this is tugging at your heartstrings, read on…
Am I an Owner or an Ambassador?
- Do I base my own identity, meaning, purpose, and inner sense of well-being on the status of my relationship with my children? If the answer is yes, than you are operating as an owner.
- Do I often feel overwhelmed with the pressure to form my children into something great? Do I believe that if I just push them harder, equip them with every opportunity for success, they will surely succeed?
- Am I working towards a specific catalog of indicators in life that would represent wordly success? Things like, academic success, athletic achievement, or social likability?
- Is my own reputation based on the reputation of my children? Is my child a shiny trophy on the shelf, or a beautifully, imperfect work in progress?
I’ll ask you (and myself) again: am I an Owner or and Ambassador?
If I am an Ambassador, I do not need to look to my children for my identity, because I have already gotten it from the One whom I represent: The Lord Jesus Christ.
If I am an Ambassador, I understand that I am nothing more than a representative of someone so much greater, wiser, and more powerful.
If I am an Ambassador, I accept the scary truth that I have no power at all to produce anything in my children.
If I am an Ambassador, I will willingly accept the humbling messiness of the job God has called me to do.