It’s easy to fall into focusing on behavior modification as parents. When they were young you found yourself telling them to stop throwing their veggies on the floor or to have nice hands. When they obeyed you praised them and were pleased with their obedience.
Obedience is important but as our children grow we come to realize that obedience is a matter of the heart, not just action.
I remember one evening when I asked my quite contrary son to pray. He was probably 4 years old and immediately gave me a look that he was not going to do it. After we encouraged him to he said in his prayers, “God, Thank you for this day. I not pray.” Amen
I can laugh now but how often does this happen. One of the things I regularly tell my mom friends is that I don’t just want good kids, who go to church and pray. I want kids who love God and desire to honor Him.
To know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (made complete).Ephesians 3:19
Of course, I’m thankful my children go to church but my prayer is that they would come to know their Heavenly Father’s love beyond mere knowledge they are made complete. When that happens their life is changed.
As I was praying this verse in Psalms 51:10 for my kids one chilly morning the Lord was reminding me that He is not into behavior management but into heart transformation.
We see it written in Scripture over and over again. 1 Samuel 16:7 tell us that God looks at the heart but man looks at the outward appearance. Romans 8:27 says that he searches our hearts.
“I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”Jeremiah 17:10
The Most Important Parenting Advice I’ll Ever Give
As my kids have gotten older and I look back on my parenting journey I can’t stress enough the importance of focusing on heart transformation beyond behavior modification. I haven’t always focused on that, in fact, it’s so much easier for me to focus on what I’m doing, what my kids are doing, and what we are producing.
Here’s the thing that hit me one day both believers and unbelievers can get results from behavior modification but it’s only God who does the work of heart transformation.
This reminds us of our utter reliance and dependence on the work of the Holy Spirit. It reminds us that:
It is on our knees that our most productive parenting happens.
It puts God’s word at the forefront in our life.
If there’s one thing that I’ve learned over and over again on this parenting journey and in all my years of being a parent educator is that all this knowledge we gather can only go so far in parenting.
God is Into Heart Transformation Not Behavior Modification
I’m not against parenting books because I have benefited greatly from all the parenting books and advice and I even dish it out as a Parenting coach.
But it’s only God that can get to our heart and the heart of our children.
It is only His love that reaches into the crevices of our souls and only His Word that pierces our hearts.
So today my parenting journey looks a little different. I still look to parenting resources for help because there is so much we can learn how God has created our brains and emotions but prayer comes first.
I go to the one who is intimately acquainted with my children and loves them more than I can ever imagine.
Prayer comes before the parenting books and parenting experts.