My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Every parent wants the best for their children. We want to see them as well-behaved, productive members of society. We dream of them going to our alma maters, following their dreams and obtaining all that they ever wanted in life. We dream of having a close, loving relationship with them as we age. For parents of any religious faith, this also includes the desire to pass on our faith to them.
As Christians, we wonder how best to bring our children up “in the fear and admonition of the Lord” because we love them so much that we want to see them have the close relationship with God that guides our own lives and to have a future home in heaven. But how do we do that?
There are hundreds of parenting books out there that give hundreds of different answers for passing on faith, and many of them give great advice using the usual prooftexts from the Bible on parenting. Chap Bettis argues that, while these ideas are great, that these texts miss the point of parenting. In that vein, he says that the most important passage on parenting is Matthew 28:18-20. From his view, the way that we parent should be to always attempt to disciple our children, just as we would any other disciple that we mentor.
After laying out his initial premise, Bettis goes through a whole slew of topics to both explain his point and to provide practical help for parents who are right in the thick of parenting. These chapters can be uneven and provide many lists in them of things to do. To tell the truth, each of these lists could almost be expanded into a whole book of its own. It’s an overwhelming book, and I often felt like I was “drinking from a fire hose.”
I also found that in the plethora of information, I would have liked more practical application and examples. This is not the most practical parenting book that you will read. Bettis is huge on ideas and ideology, but he often does not come in with practical examples of how to bring his lists into your parenting.
However, in the end I decided to give this book five stars because of the deep conviction and understandings that I had gleaned from it. The portions on parenting as a pharisee and on indwelling sin (a topic that inspired me to a blog post) were worth the price of the entire book for me.
I also truly appreciated his address of Timothy, and his explanation of the “two-fold” conversion that we see of children who grow up in the faith. They may make a faith commitment when young, but they only later come to an understanding and confirmation of their path. Contemplating this and his exegesis of Timothy’s upbringing, gave me a great sense of peace in the paths that my children are taking as they begin making baby steps toward Jesus.
There’s a lot of good stuff here, and it’s definitely a parenting book worth the time it takes to read it. It’s also probably a book that would be an excellent one to keep around to refer to when you need a little inspiration on what it truly means to disciple your parent. It’s a good work that parents are doing, and it’s a wearying work, so this one belongs on your shelf to help keep you on the right path.