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. 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. Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Ps. 127:1-3

Dear heavenly Father… how healing and FREEING this Scripture is! Indeed, it’s a liberating joy to address you today as the architect and builder of your own house—including the household of faith and our children’s place in your family.

As I look back over the years of my pragmatic parenting, I’m saddened, but I am also gladdened, for you’ve always been faithful to your covenant love, even when I was overbearing and under-believing. The move from parenting by grit to parenting by grace was a slow, contested but freeing journey. Take me further us and farther in, even now as a grandparent.

You’ve rescued me from parental “laboring in vain”—assuming a burden you never intended parents to bear. Father, only you can reveal the glory and grace of Jesus to our children. Only you can give anyone a new heart—including me. You’ve called us to parent as an act of worship—to parent “as unto you,” not as a way of saving face or fixing our kids; making a name for ourselves or proving our worthiness of your love.

Oh, the arrogant pride of thinking that by our “good parenting” we can take credit for what you alone have graciously done in the lives of our children. Oh, the arrogant unbelief of assuming that by our “bad parenting” we’ve forever limited what you will be able to accomplish in the future. Oh, the undue pressure our children must feel when we parent more out of our fear and pride, than by your love and grace; more from a Christian sub-culture agenda, than from the gospel of your kingdom.

Since our children and grandchildren are your inheritance, Father, teach us—teach me, how to care for them as humble stewards, not as anxious owners; as loving servants, not rigid overlords; as co-broken-sinners, not as co-dependent parents. More than anything else, show us how to parent and grandparent in a way that best reveals the unsearchable riches of Jesus in the gospel.

Give us quick repentances and observable kindnesses—before our children. Convict me, quickly and surely, when we don’t relate to our kids—or anyone else, “in line with the truth of the gospel” (Gal. 2:14). So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ merciful and mighty name.

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Scotty Smith


Scotty Smith is the founding pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee. You can follow him on Twitter.

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