Driscoll: Integrated Parenting

“Pastoral Parenting,” Part 2

Adapted from “Pastoral Parenting” by Mark Driscoll in Trial: 8 Witnesses from 1 & 2 Peter, a study guide. (Mars Hill Church, 2009), pages 66-68.

Because parents are with their children at the most opportune times, they are wise to integrate their biblical instruction as God providentially provides teachable moments. It is wise for families to have regular and planned times for such things as Bible reading, prayer, and worshipful singing. Nevertheless, there are moments throughout the course of a child’s day when his or her heart is open for strategic instruction. A Spirit-led, prayerful parent will capture sacred moments to instruct and/or correct their child as needed.

One example is the common occurrence of one child stealing a toy from another child. The parent present for this inevitable moment can stop what they are doing and integrate their instruction into that teachable moment. This would include sitting the children down and explaining to the child who stole the toy that one of the Ten Commandments forbids stealing and when we steal we are sinning against God and the person from whom we are stealing. We can then explain that repentance includes seeing that what they did was wrong, handing the toy back to the child they stole from, looking that child in the eye and apologizing for their sin by name and asking to be forgiven, the other child looking them in the eye and forgiving them, and then the two of them hugging while the parent prays over both children out loud, thanking God that forgiveness is possible because Jesus died for our sins.

This kind of integrated parenting will help to ensure that the child does not grow up as a hypocrite who knows what to do but does not do it because their instruction was not integrated into their life. Perhaps the clearest command for integrated parenting is Deuteronomy 6:4–9, which says, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

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