by Lisle Drury
One of many things that parenting does for all of us is remind us again and again of how much we need Jesus. Our hearts are exposed and we are confronted each day with our own sin (selfishness, impatience, anger, irritation, approval of others, pride, etc.) John Calvin says that our hearts are little “idol factories”, we are always taking God’s good things, like children (Psalm 127), and making them ultimate things, God substitutes. If we do the heart work as Tim Keller says and get to the sin that is underneath the sin, we will begin to see our God substitutes.
Here are two idols for our reflection taken from Paul Tripp’s book Age of Opportunity.
1. Idol of Comfort.
Secretly in our heart, many of us want our life to be a resort. A resort is a place where we are the one who is served. Our needs come first, we have paid our money and we have the right to expect certain things. Many of us bring this entitlement mentality to our parenting. We reason that we have the right to quiet, harmony, peace and respect, and we respond in anger when we do not get it. Life is a war. If we demand comfort, regularity, peace, space, harmony, we will begin to see our child as the enemy. We will begin to fight with them rather than for them.
2. Idol of Success.
Sometimes in parenting we think that if we do our part our children will be model citizens. Yet in a fallen world, this is not the way it works. We tend to approach parenting with a sense of ownership, that these are our children and their obedience is our right. These assumptions pave the way for our identity to get wrapped up in our children. We begin to need them to be what they should be so that we can feel a sense of achievement and success. We begin to look at our children as our trophies rather than God’s creatures. Charles Drew in his book A Journey Worth Taking says, “It is good and right to be a faithful parent; but it is not good to be a controlling parent whose identity and sense of value is caught up in how the kids turn out.”
As a parent, what idols has God by His Spirit exposed in your heart? We all have them. Do we understand the gospel enough to where we can do what C.J. Mahaney says ‘draw near to idolatry’, so that they can be exposed and confessed?