The parenting instinct is a strong force. One episode of the nature channel will cause you to forever keep your distance from a mother and her young. I remember watching a cat get viciously bombarded by some blue jays. The commotion I witnessed from the bird parents who were guarding their young was shocking. The screeching was unlike anything I had ever heard. Our neighborhood cat strolled underneath a tree that held the nest where their babies (who just days before had shed their shells) were now sleeping. Both feathered guardians flew at full speed into the feline’s body. Over and over again they would dive bomb as the cat tried to flee.
Ever feel that way about your kid? When the nurse placed my minutes-old newborn in my arms, I remember thinking for the first time ever, I would die for this person. Dramatic I know, but God has wired us to protect, love, and nurture these little ones. It is all very natural, but I believe this strong parental instinct can often take on a warped life of its own.
There is a temptation and cultural swing to not only love our children but actually put them before everything else in our lives. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about a great themed party for their birthdays, and I loved being at every school event. But as I now have children who are grown, I see that this worship of our kids is a trap.
God says that we should have no other gods before Him (Exodus 20:3). As I raised my daughters, there were many years where nearly all of my decisions were based on their lives and their lives alone. God is a God of order. He wants to be first, then our marriages, and then our children. I know, I know. We love them and would do anything for them, and of course at younger ages they need us more, but I want to challenge all of us parents that our priorities cannot be child-centered first.
When we have God first, all else falls into line, and we become the dads and moms that they need — not just their personal assistants who help them attain a challenge-free life. Are our households being run by our kids’ social and athletic calendars or by the peace of a household under God’s rhythm?
In Matthew 20:17-23, we see that this maternal, kid-focused mindset was in full swing right there in Jesus’s face. Jesus had just been sharing the deepest part of his heart with his disciples. He was letting them know that he was heading to Jerusalem to be betrayed and crucified. An intense, tender moment indeed, and yet the mama of James and John has the audacity to ask Jesus, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” Seriously, pushing her agenda for her children’s advancement? I’m telling ya, this parental thing can gain way too much strength, and void of logic can become all-encompassing.
Our children young and grown are a gift straight from heaven to our hearts. As parents, let’s love them and enjoy them, but let’s not worship them.