So then, we are committed to imitating our faithful, heavenly Father who because He loves us, disciplines us, teaching us obedience through pain (Heb. 5:8, 12:7-11). But God is perfect and omniscient, two qualities all human parents lack. We do not know all things, and even if we did, we wouldn’t respond in righteousness. But we are not allowed to pass on this. Jesus clearly says that we must be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect (Mt. 5:48). This includes imitating our Father’s grace, giving good gifts to the good and the evil alike, but this must also include teaching obedience to those entrusted to our care.
We are not perfect or omniscient, but we are parents. We do not know all things, but we know many things about ourselves, about our children, and about sin and grace. And this, the Bible teaches, is sufficient. There is a certain kind of perfectionism that refuses to accept this point. Because we are fallible, limited creatures, we are prone to reject our responsibilities because we cannot execute them absolutely flawlessly. But this is ultimately sheer arrogance. We resent the fact that we are finite, which is to say that we resent the fact that we are not God. And so we sulk about like toddlers pretending that we cannot then very well be expected to carry out this onerous task that God has set before us. But this is just disobedience. If God requires parents to teach their children to obey, and He does (Prov. 22:6, Eph. 6:4), then parents must accept this, rejoice in this responsibility and believe that God’s grace in and through our own (very real) limitations is sufficient for the task.
In other words, this means that we must approach our duty as parents with great humility. And this humility should result in at least two characteristics: consistency and teachability.
For the first, if you take your insufficient feelings seriously, humility simply means obeying God. If you are a newbie and you don’t know what you’re doing, then stop making excuses, stop wallowing in your insufficiency, and just do what you’re told: correct your child, spank your child, require cheerful obedience the first time (Prov. 22:15, Col. 3:20-21). Humility is consistent submission to God’s word in this matter. But frequently, parents who refuse to do their duty in this matter are anything but humble.
Secondly, humility means teachability. If you are teaching your children to be teachable, then you must in the first instance model this to your children. This doesn’t mean that your three year old gets to call the shots. Far too many parents think that humility means that the kid gets to make the orders about how he’ll take his bottle and bedtime (thank you very much) and the parents sit there taking notes and complying. But this is actually frightful arrogance on the part of the parents, and you are teaching your child the very same thing. On the contrary, humility means you remember that God has spoken in His word, and you take your orders from Him, and you take them seriously. Secondarily it means that when other authorities like your parents, pastors, and other trusted friends give advice and counsel, you are quick to consider it and weigh it carefully. It also means incidentally that you don’t take offense at suggestions or input given. On the one hand, you answer to God for your parenting, and on the other hand, for that very reason you have nothing to fear from input or advice (even when poorly given). It is probably good advice more often than you care to admit. But humility is grateful for good advice. And what parent doesn’t hope that their children won’t be that kind of humble too?