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Chap Bettis at Focus on the Family

In today’s cultural moment, forces are gunning for our children and grandchildren. There’s a battle raging for your child’s heart and mind. I sat down with Focus on the Family to discuss the importance of this battle as we seek to faithfully pass on the gospel baton to our children.


There Are Two Prodigal Sons 

A lot of people miss that there are two prodigal sons.

One prodigal is off ruining the family fortune and his father’s honor through sin. But the other one is staying in the house; he is just self-righteous and disconnected from his father.

Realizing that there are two prodigal sons can help us look at our children, saying, “Is this one who tends to indulge himself or herself? Or is this a judgmental child, is proud, is self-righteous?”

Often we are happy because we see our children reading their Bible every day, but they’re also looking down on other people. The way that you’re going to try and shepherd their heart is to call this out and to say, “Look, Jesus loves everyone. Jesus loves sinners. We’re sinners, you’re a sinner, I’m a sinner. And right now, this little cattiness, you’re judging someone, we don’t know all the facts, and you’re also being sinful.”

If I have these two categories of indulgent children and self-righteousness children, I’m more prepared to shepherd my children when I see those different behaviors.


Successful Parenting vs Faithful Parenting

There’s a gospel baton that we seek to pass to our children. As parents and grandparents, we are holding out that gospel to our kids. The gospel baton analogy helps us realize the other person has to grasp the baton and that our goal is faithful parenting.

Too often, we aim at successful parenting, and then our results drive whether we’re happy or not. The question we have to ask is not “Am I being successful” but rather, “Am I being faithful to hold out the gospel to my children?”

But then what’s missing from that analogy is we’re not just on a track at a high school meet. We’re actually on a battlefield. People are laughing at our kids, and people are saying, “don’t do that.”

And some of their peers are saying, “This is silly. Why stay in the race?” So part of the analogy is to help us realize that we are in a battle for our children and grandchildren.

It’s so easy to be lulled into the fact that we don’t see real bullets flying. So we think, “oh, It’s just normal high school, normal junior high, normal elementary.” And in one sense, that is true. Yet there’s a spiritual battle going on for the hearts and minds of our kids, and so we want to stay connected to the heart.


Being Intentional 

As a parent, I want to be as intentional as possible because God hasn’t just entrusted me with a baby. He’s given me an eternal soul to influence. And I think that in today’s cultural moment, forces are gunning for your child’s heart.

So I want to be intentional, taking care of connecting to my child’s heart. How can I make sure I’m connected to the heart? How what’s going on in their heart?

With this in mind, the Bible would say weeds are already in the garden. So pulling weeds has to be done. The Proverbs are very clear that a child left in his own way is going to disgrace his mom or dad.

We want to be involved, but we don’t want to be controlling because, ultimately, we’re doing this under the authority of Christ, and we want to release them one day. That ongoing transformation from dependence to independence is what we’re aiming at.