Ask someone how they are doing and frequently the answer will come back, “Stressed!” Our lives are filled with all kinds of pressures that can easily produce anxiety. Parents are especially vulnerable to anxiety and worry.
Amy and I have been blessed with seven children. The eldest two are married, and the next two are in college. I find the pre-college time, the high school “launch years,” to be especially stressful. Do they have the test scores they need? Do we have any chance of affording the rising costs of tuition? Does my son or daughter have any sense of purpose or direction? Are our family relationships in a healthy place so that they launch well?
For the past year, God has been continually turning my attention to Jesus’ direct teaching on the subject of worry and anxiety. In his “Sermon on the Mount” Jesus tells us, “Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25)
But I am anxious about these things, and my worry is more for my kids than it is for myself. I have anxiety about their school, sports, friends, finances, future spouses, and more.
The conclusion of this portion of Jesus’ sermon has been proving transformational for me as a father.
“For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)
First, Jesus affirms that we (and our kids) do in fact need the practical things of life – food, clothing, employment, friendships, family, etc. But what is the path to having our earthly needs met? Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.
Here is the question I have been wrestling with. As a father, do I believe Jesus’ teaching? The easy answer is, “Well, of course I believe Jesus.” But not so fast. If I truly believe these words of Jesus, it radically transforms the focus of my parenting.
Jesus says that if my children will seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness that their Heavenly Father will take care of every single one of their practical needs. He will take care of their future college and career. He will guide them to their future spouse. More importantly, the Lord will lead them to most effectively serve him.
Are you stressed about college? Give your best attention to helping your son or daughter grow in righteousness.
Are you anxious about finances? Encourage your child to focus on seeking first the kingdom of God.
Are you worried about your child’s future? Do all in your power to help your children love God above all else.