I just celebrated my second Mother’s Day. In the years prior to the birth of my twins it was such a painful day reminding me of my infertility and yearning for children of my own. Now it is such a special day full of gratitude to God for blessing me with my miracle babies. It has also become a day to reflect on my own mother and all the things she taught me like stewardship that I now impart upon my own children as a family legacy.
I have been so blessed to have been raised by a wonderful, Godly woman who taught me humility, compassion, kindness and self discipline. It’s amazing how much more we understand our parents once we become one ourselves. I have many memories of my mom telling me that her decisions about me were driven by an understanding that she would one day answer for how she had raised me. I’m beginning to comprehend now that she recognized her position as a steward for God in my life.
Although my own children are still very young and much of what I understand of parenthood is theory, I have spent many years in children’s and youth ministry. There have been many occasions on which I have had to council teens who were in the midst of the anguish caused by family dysfunction. I have tried to make mental notes on what not to do with my own children to try to avoid these issues.
It is natural to feel ownership of our children. After all, we have spent so many sleepless nights and made so many sacrifices to care for them. However, in truth they actually belong to God and He has entrusted them to us.
Psalm 24:1 NLT says “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.”
Psalm 127:3 NLT says “Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him.”
So, if I don’t own my children but they have been entrusted to me for safekeeping, my perspective changes. My focus becomes training them for the day when they are released into the world to lead their own lives. If you think about it, this outlook on raising our children can have so many positive benefits for us. When we recognize that we don’t own our children and that they aren’t replicas of ourselves, we don’t live vicariously through them. So much dysfunction in families can come from parents trying to force their own agenda on their kids. With the understanding that God has a special, unique purpose for our children’s lives; we begin to focus on helping them find that purpose instead of trying to make them something they are not.
A stewardship mentality also keeps us from becoming confused about our role as parent. When our children begin to grow up, it can be tempting to slip into a role as friend because that’s easier than being the disciplinarian. Now that I am an adult, my mother and I share a wonderful friendship because we share so many common interests. But that being said, she was clearly a parent to me when I was a child / teenager. I often cringe when I think of the arguments we had in my early teen years but she never backed down. (Imagine the clashes of a girl going through puberty and a pre-menopausal mom!) I may not have appreciated it then, but now I see that her discipline was out of love and in my best interest. What seemed like stifling rules was really a hedge of protection.
Hebrews 12:6 says “because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”
Recognizing that our children belong to God can provide an immense sense of peace in the midst of difficulty. We do not have to live in fear of the dangers around us because we know that God is sovereign over it all. We don’t have to control their every move but teach them to choose the right way for themselves. We can let go of the mom-guilt that we all suffer from if we know that everything we do is to glorify the Lord. If we are making our best effort and seeking God’s will in our actions, we can have peace about those efforts.
The final benefit of stewardship I want to discuss is for our marriage. So many divorces are a result of moms and dads getting their priorities mixed up. They let their love for their children consume their lives and they push their spouse away. This is a short sited action because the reality is that one day your children will leave the nest. It’s so tempting to get enveloped in the amazing love and bond that we mothers have with our kids. Instead of recognizing it as a wonderful season that will one day develop into a different type of connection, we try to hold that connection with our children to the detriment of other relationships. This is selfish on our part because it can be destructive to the independence and self reliance of our kids. I think we should make the most of the snugly, affectionate early days and then let them give way to the discovering and learning days. After that we can look forward to the bedtime confiding days, the turn to mom for advice days and so on. God has so many awesome interactions in store for us at each stage of our children’s lives so we don’t have to be fearful of moving into the next season. Although my childhood is over, my mom is now in the snugly season again with my babies!
I recently read a devotional book that expounded more on this concept of the stewardship approach to motherhood and I highly recommend it. It also has some great practical tips for how to lead your children to serve Christ. You can find it here.
As I mentioned above, I am no expert on this subject and these are just my personal thoughts. I would love to hear from other moms – whether your kids are 2 or 22.