May 2024 | Vision Leads to Transformation

When Our Children Don't Succeed

When Our Children Don't Succeed

Dr. Valson Abraham

All of us who have children, grandchildren, nephews or nieces want them to succeed in life.  We become overjoyed when they do, and we proudly tell others of their accomplishments.  Their success reflects upon us.  In a very real sense, we regard their success as our success.

What if they don’t succeed?  What if their accomplishments are few, or worse, what if they fail and become burdens to our family and to society?  Whose fault is it?  Most parents tend to blame themselves.  They spend endless hours asking themselves where they went wrong and where they failed God, not always able to arrive at solid conclusions.

May I offer a word of comfort to such parents:  God the Father is the most perfect of parents, but all of His children (you and me) are abject failures in His sight.  Is it possible that God the Father does not judge us as parents on whether our children succeed in life but on the way we live out His love and grace toward them as He does toward us?  None of us will ever have a perfect family this side of heaven.  So what is God looking for?

Christian family counselor Emmerson Eggerichs suggests a worthy biblical model for a good parent in the father of the prodigal son and his ungrateful older brother (Luke 15:11-32).  In their own ways, both sons are miserable failures.  

In this parable, Jesus clearly wants us to imitate the father’s grace toward his sinful sons.  Throughout this parable, the father demonstrates remarkable patience in the face of outrageous behaviors and attitudes.  As we study this parable, we become amazed that the father does not disown both of them for their insulting and ungrateful ways.

The father in Jesus’ parable represents God Himself.  This means that to become successful parents, we must first learn to love God even more than we love our children.  This goes against our natural instincts, but when we learn to love God first, we learn to love our children better.  

To love God first is to become overwhelmed by His grace.  When we see the powerful grace of God working in our own sinful lives, we begin to take a different attitude toward our children, even when they fail.  We begin to see them from God’s perspective.

Rather than see (and even resent) our wayward children as imperfect reflections of ourselves, we begin to think of them in the way that God regards us.  

How does God regard us?  We get a glimpse of this in Jesus’ prayer of John 17 for His disciples:  “I have made Your name known to them {His disciples], and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”

Here, Jesus prays that the eternal love with which the Father loved Him will become the love by which the Father also loves us.  When we see God, we will not only receive His forgiveness, we imperfect children of God will also receive the same love that He gives to His perfect Son.  This fact is so staggering we cannot fully understand it this side of heaven.  We have all failed God far more often than our children have failed us, and yet God’s love for us matches the love He gives to His sinless Son.

Rather than judging or even rejecting our children, we must learn to show them this same grace and love of God that He has displayed toward us.  In human terms, this is impossible.  This can take place only to the extent we repent of our judgmental spirit and allow the Holy Spirit to renew our minds.  Like the prodigal son, some of our wayward children may return “home,” humble and repentant and ready to serve God and their fellow man.

Whether we have children or not, let us all learn to become overwhelmed by the grace of God and His love toward us.  Let that growing experience of His grace make us the best parents.  It will also help us to submit to our husbands, give ourselves to our wives, and do things that encourage rather than discourage our children.  It will also make our gospel message more credible to a world overwhelmed with failure.

* * * 

Father God, your love and grace toward me is staggering and beyond my ability to fully understand.  Through your Holy Spirit, teach me to love and accept my children, even when they fail, even as you have loved me when I fail.  Help me to take this message of your grace and love into a world that does not yet know you.  In Jesus’ Name. Amen

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