How to Avoid the Worst Parenting Regret

Scott AtteberyDiscipleship, Parenting

parenting regret

Everyone has roles and responsibilities in life. Yet, they aren’t all created equal.

Consider the proverbial man on his deathbed who laments spending too much time in the office and not enough time with his family. The moral of the story is not to quit your job and stay home. God created work as a responsibility in which, by faith, we trust that as we work God provides.

The proverbial man on his deathbed had spent a lifetime believing that his career was his provider instead of rejoicing that God is his provider. It’s the sentiment that assumes:

·      If I don’t climb the ladder, I’ll get kicked to the curb

·      I must perform better or I might lose everything

·      Nothing is secure, so I must accumulate as much wealth as possible

Do any of these thoughts sound familiar?

It’s really a problem of idolatry in which we believe that our work is our provider. And since we do the work, we are the ultimate providers for our families and ourselves. There is no room for God’s promise of provision in this point of view.

And that’s how a person ends up on their deathbed with painful regret. It’s a regret that the writer of Psalm 127 warns of.

Psalm 127 was either written by David while reflecting on Solomon or it is written by Solomon reflecting on his children. Either way, it was written by a man who knows plenty about legacy, power, resources, and family. Both David and Solomon had a wealth of experience and wisdom to share. Just take a look at this Psalm:

[1] Unless the LORD builds the house,

            those who build it labor in vain.

Unless the LORD watches over the city,

            the watchman stays awake in vain.

[2] It is in vain that you rise up early

            and go late to rest,

eating the bread of anxious toil;

            for he gives to his beloved sleep.

[3] Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,

            the fruit of the womb a reward.

[4] Like arrows in the hand of a warrior

            are the children of one’s youth.

[5] Blessed is the man

            who fills his quiver with them!

He shall not be put to shame

            when he speaks with his enemies in the gate. (ESV)

The first two verses point out the vanity of trying to build, protect, and maintain things God has promised to provide. Remember, this was written by a King, but is relevant to every believer. Here’s a summation:

  • Since God builds family dynasties (ie. the house of David), don’t waste your time trying to build something God isn’t building.
  • Since God protects godly nations; don’t focus on security at the neglect of righteousness.
  • Since God provides everything His children need, quit wearing yourself out to get more of what God will give enough.

These verses are not advocating laziness. The psalmist is not saying to neglect your family legacy, your city’s safety, or your personal welfare. Instead, he’s saying don’t forget that He is God and we are his people. We often desire to trade places with God. We try to build our kingdoms while He serves our interests. Yet, we are to build His kingdom by raising his servants.

Raising his servants? Yes. That’s what the final three verses address:

God doesn’t need anything from us. He is building his Kingdom. And from the beginning, He’s never asked our advice on strategy or design. Instead, beginning in Genesis 1:26-28, He has called us to “be fruitful and multiply” people in His image to fill the earth with His glory. Even after the fall, God’s call has remained. His purpose for us has never waivered.

That’s why He sent Christ to redeem us and restore His image in us. So that as we raise our children to follow Christ, we might launch them like arrows to fill the earth with His Glory!

Do we have work to do in our cities and families? Of course. But be careful not to confuse life’s roles from God’s calling. It’s easy to get caught up in building our own personal kingdoms in life expecting God to “make our children godly” if we just provide a safe, secure home for them. So we work ourselves to death and feel as though we deserve “good kids.”

But that thinking is totally backwards. We must pour into our children knowing that God will provide for our needs. (Remember, God promised Adam & Eve all the resources of creation for the task.) We must still work our jobs, save money, and pay bills. But only in faith knowing that God will provide through our work. That is different from believing that we are the captains of our own soul and the only ones able to amass power, wealth, and security for ourselves. We only need gather manna for today –God will provide for tomorrow. We don’t have to neglect our children while anxiously gathering for the unknowns of life (which only He knows).

At the heart of the issue is the deceit of our fallen nature.

We are inclined to pursue what God has promised to provide while expecting God to provide what He has called us to pursue: raising godly children. In Christ, we can recognize this faulty desire. And by faith, we can follow His calling.

Therefore, just as verses 3-5 instruct us:

  • See your children as a greater gift than your career. Children are your heritage and reward –bonuses and promotions are not.
  • Train your children to be launched out like arrows for the Kingdom! You can’t sharpen arrows at the office.
  • Never forget that God gives us joy and blessings in raising our children. They bless our lives; careers steal our lives.

The Psalm ends describing the man who has trusted God for provision and pursued the calling of godly parenting: “He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate” (5b).

It’s tempting to believe that a successful career will gain this kind of respect where even our enemies hold us in high esteem. But it’s a lie.

Let’s not wait until our deathbeds to acknowledge and live the truth.

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