Whenever I get overwhelmed and mothering seems as complex as a calculus problem, my mom always helps me put things in perspective. “Gospel-centered mothering at this stage is simple,” she tells me. “Not easy, mind you. It requires sacrificial love, hard work, and consistency. But it isn’t complicated.”
My problem is that I am a professional complicator. If “complicating the simple” was a science they would have tenured me as a professor at some prestigious university by now. I chase every new rabbit trail of a mothering idea, and fret about the roads not taken with my children. In this self-constructed maze, I quickly lose sight of God’s priorities for mothering young children.
But Mom’s right. It isn’t that complicated. It comes down to two basic but crucial priorities: Obedience and Respect. Paul summarizes these twin child-training “musts” for the early years:
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land” (Eph. 6:20).
There are many good things that we can—and should—teach our children. But these two are essential if we want our children to enjoy a long and a good life, a life of gospel fruitfulness. This isn’t moralistic mothering. Training our children to respect and obey is God’s command. And it is essential to helping our children understand what it means to fear the Lord, to walk in obedience to Him.
“The child trained in biblical obedience is better able to understand the gospel” explains Tedd Tripp. “The power and grace of the gospel is most deeply understood, not by those who never face their biblical duties, but by those who do.”
Obedience is the gateway to understanding the gospel.
So as I consider at the beginning of this year how to train my children, I return to these two simple priorities. I ask myself: How am I doing at training my children to respect and obey us? How can I as a mother be more consistent, more effective, at teaching, training, and disciplining my children in these two areas?
Gospel-centered mothering in 2013? Not easy. But real simple.