The Kauflin name is probably very familiar to you.
Although you may know him for his contribution to worship, you may not know that Bob Kauflin has thought a lot about parenting. I first heard Bob teach on parenting at a conference probably about 10 years ago and I thought, “This is excellent teaching from a godly man.” He and Julie graciously agreed to talk with me recently.
Bob is the Director of Sovereign Grace Music and the author of numerous popular worship songs. He is also the author of two books – Worship Matters and True Worshipers. In addition, He is a pastor at Sovereign Grace Church in Louisville KY.
He and Julie have been married for 43 years, have six children and (at this point) 19 grandchildren. You are going to enjoy the gospel-infused wisdom and insight from this gracious couple. They were disciple-making parents before there even was such a thing!
This will be a podcast you want to listen to several times, taking notes as you go.
If you are a parent, God has given you eternal souls to influence. In today’s culture, you need a strategy.
The Disciple-Making Parent will give you confidence in your parenting.
If you have made it this far, we are happy to give you a free audiobook of The Disciple-Making Parent. Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org and include “Kauflin Podcast” in your subject line.
Transcript of the Interview
Chap: You know him from the worship songs he’s composed. Maybe you know him because he’s led us in worship at conferences, but did you know that Bob Kauflin and his wife Julie, have done quite a bit of thinking about parenting? Well, you’re going to want to listen in to this conversation to hear numerous gospel centered insights from Bob and Julie Kauflin. Hi, my name is Chap Bettis and I’m the author of The Disciple-Making Parent. And you know, every time I interview someone I get excited about introducing them to you. Well, multiply that excitement a hundred fold today as you listen in on a conversation that I recently had with Bob and Julie Kauflin. Now the Kauflin name is probably very familiar to you. Bob Is the director of Sovereign Grace Music. He’s the author of numerous popular worship songs and albums, and he’s also the author of two books, Worship Matters and True Worshipers. In addition, he’s a pastor of Sovereign Grace Church in Louisville, Kentucky. He and Julie have been married for 43 years. They have six children and at this point 19 grandchildren. And I first heard him teach on parenting at a conference probably 10 years ago now at this point and I thought, “Wow, this is excellent teaching excellent insights from a godly man!” And recently we have become acquainted and he and Julie graciously agreed to talk with me on the podcast. Well before we start, I want to remind you that I’d love to hear from you. You can email me email@example.com or comment on the Facebook page that has this podcast. In addition, I want to let you know that I’m hard at work on the video series Parenting with Patience: Overcoming Anger in the Home. It’s a five-week video driven Bible study and it’s in its final weeks of Beta testing. I hope to release it this fall. If you’re not on my email list, you can sign up for the newsletter at theapollosproject.com so that you’ll be notified when it becomes available. Or you can just shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org but for now, let’s listen into a gospel-centered conversation with numerous insights from Bob and Julie Kauflin.
Chap: I know you’re well known to my audience, but I just wanted to thank you personally for your ministry and integrity over the years. Pastoring in New England for 25 years, going to the original T4G 2006 and really in tears, as we’re singing together in 2008 the same way. And so that’s just been a ministry. So I know there are a number of people like me, anonymous pastors in the trenches who are blessed, who’ve been blessed over the years, to sing the songs that the Lord has blessed you with. So thank you both for your ministry.
Bob: It’s a joy. The Lord is so kind.
Chap: But what people may not know is that you to have thought about and been willing to stick your neck out a little bit to teach about parenting. When I heard you at one of the conferences awhile back we resonated a lot, and, had a lot of the same thoughts but you saying it differently and obviously you’re further along in your parenting. So I’d like to ask you both just talk with us a little bit. In that presentation you talked about some of the original ideas you started out with and then how you recalibrated some of those. And then some of those that you think, yeah, those were biblical and still good.
Bob: I pulled out my notes knowing that you’re going to ask this question. I think the three things that I could pinpoint that change when parenting. First is our experiences. When you’re young, you know your oldest is 10, and your three kids are acting pretty well. You think I got this down. I am on this. What’s wrong with everybody? Why haven’t they seen all that we’ve seen in our 10 years of parenting. And I remember wanting to write a book on parenting when our oldest was like six. And I look back that I just think, what an idiot, what a proud idiot. So you just have more experiences and you know, they teach you volumes about God’s Word, and your inadequacies and that all your children are different than you expected. Our expectations changed. So I think when we’re young we’re much more confident and, we think, well, if you do this, it’ll produce this. And while there are general truths that God has given us, principles about parenting, they’re not guarantees. And it doesn’t work like, a coke machine – you put a dollar in and you get a coke and that’s, that’s what you do. I’ve seen some people kind of turn from the way they’d raised their children simply because the kids didn’t turn out the way they thought they would, and they assume they did everything right and maybe they did do a lot of things right. But as their expectations have been adjusted, in terms of – if you have family devotion times every death, every week, it doesn’t mean your children are going to be godly. It doesn’t even mean that they will know the Lord. There are just a lot of factors in there. And then the third thing that’s changed, I think would be our emphases. I remember personally in the early years being very focused on just the use of discipline, loving discipline, loving correction and how even back in the 80s, that was not very popular. But God’s clear in his word that if children are to be raised to know him there has to be some form of loving correction, which is painful. At that time I thought, well, that’s the key, that’s what everybody’s missing. And it’s very important, but it’s not the only thing. And of course, as kids grow older, the emphases we experienced were things like courtship and just how you handle those relationships. And I think we’re much better prepared at this point to talk about those years having raised 6 teenagers and we would emphasize different things at different times.
Julie: Yes. And I think there was a transition from having little kids where you could discipline them and they would change and obey and all of a sudden they get older and have opinions and want to know why and the opportunity to be able to point them to the Gospel and then it is hard to obey. And just that transition, I feel like we didn’t quite know how to make that first. So Paul Tripp’s book, Age of Opportunity was really helpful. Just wanting to have a well worn path to the cross, help them to know that the gospel is what they need and it’s not just behavior modification. And you have to teach them authority when they’re young, but there comes that time where you have to help them learn how to be disciples and followers of Jesus. So that changes with a lot more listening and a lot more talking.
Chap: Thinking about those things that haven’t changed. The way I phrased it is it almost that you have to be two different parents. For the young children there is that emphasis on authority and correction. Habitual obedience. But if that’s the way you treat your teenager then you’ve got problems.
Bob: You are headed for a World War or a disconnected teen.
Julie: And we came to the realization that we needed to walk alongside our teenagers and help them realize that we struggle with the exact same sins, and how the Lord’s helped us in those. So we’re, co-laboring together rather than we’ve got it all right. And you’re a mess.
Chap: No one tells us, but I wonder if it’s successful versus faithful. So you’re like, well if I have devotions, if I put the slot in enough then I will be successful as opposed to saying,” Lord, as far as I know, I made plenty of mistakes, but I was faithful in seeking to show you to the kids. “
Bob: Yes, absolutely. And I don’t think that’s as easy to see when you’re a young parent because, this is the life you’ve been given the responsibility and privilege by God to raise this life or these lives and you think, “Well doggone it. I’m going to do the best I can and if anything I’m going to be a great parent” And how has that proven? We think by how my kids turn out. Well, yes and no. It’s just not that simple. When you walk with other parents and you think , “they’re doing a great job” and then you see their older children start to question and turn, and be influenced by the world you think, okay. This requires something different. And I think parenting overall is just designed by God to make us like Jesus and to make us more dependent on him. That’s why God gives us children. It’s not so that we can just produce trophies of our parenting. It’s so that we can see how much unlike the Savior we are. I’m in the gospels right now and I’m struck again and again by how different Jesus was when he walked the earth with how he was gracious, when we didn’t expect him to be gracious, authoritative when we didn’t expect him to be authoritative and firm. He did everything perfectly. And we don’t do everything perfectly. So it forces us upon the grace of God and the Word of God and the Gospel and the Holy Spirit. And those are the resources and the church, the community of believers. Those are the resources God has given us to raise our children. And if we think that we have the secret key to producing perfect children, God’s going to oppose that. He’s going to say, you don’t need me to do that. I’m going to receive the glory from your parenting. And what a wonderful journey it is. To those parents who might be struggling right now, it’s a wonderful journey. And we’ve just seen this more and more. God used particularly one of our children, Devon when he was 12 years old. He was our third and up until that point for us two, we’re great. We were doing fantastic. We were amazing parents. Model parents.
Chap: Said sarcastically. Of course.
Bob: Yes, yes. And in our own eyes. And then Devon came along and just through everything, everything we knew seemed to be thrown out the window because he was rebellious. He was deceptive, he was arrogant, he was disrespectful. We had to relearn what parenting was. And we learned some incredibly valuable lessons during that time which has shaped us since then. And some of the ones are what we’re talking about right now, that it’s – we need a Savior for our parenting. We’re, not the perfect ones come alongside our younger children and saying, well, this is how you do it just like us. Unless you’re saying that we are dependent upon a Savior. So one of the things we learned was that our job is not to keep our children from sinning. We can’t do that. Our job is to teach our children what to do with their sin in light of a Savior. A Savior has come that changes everything about your sin. So even that, that just takes off so much pressure. Of course, you want your children to be godly. Of course, you want your children to love God’s Word. Of course, you want your children to be unselfish. Yes, yes, yes. But you know what? They’re going to be selfish. They’re going to be proud. They’re going to have days when they want the world more than they want the Word. So what do they do? Well, as a parent. We have the privilege of showing them we have a Savior who has not only purchased their forgiveness, but, but enabled them by the Spirit of God, by the grace of God, to actually have new desires, to want to please God and serve and love him. And it’s just a different way of parenting. If I start talking, I would just keep talking.
Chap: I’ll make sure we hear plenty from Julie. What are the things that you feel like did not change? And you can say by the grace of God, we got good teaching. I agree 1000% with everything you said, but yet some could take it to say in the sense of “Who knows how they’re going to turn out only God controls that.” So what are some of those things you would look back and say, yeah, we got some good teaching and we were faithful agents and those things didn’t change.
Bob: Well the first would be that God is really the one who tells us how to parent. Of the making of parenting books there is no end. And I wouldn’t say that all of them are that good. Some are imbalanced. Some are so grace focused that you wonder, is Jesus really Lord? Does he expect obedience? And then others are the opposite side. They’re so strict that you think, “if you do these things then your children will turn out this way.” But the Bible is always what we go back to. If your parenting is off, go back to the Scriptures, go back to God’s Word. And the reality is, especially in the New Testament, he hasn’t said a ton about parenting, but what God has told us is really, really important. And if we’re not getting that, then we’re missing a lot. So, we were grounded in the Word. I think our view that children are a treasured gift from God, that view is not changed. Children are not problems. They’re not projects. They’re gifts. And if we don’t have that attitude, it’s going to affect the way we parent. We were always taught, and I thank God for this, that parents have the primary responsibility for raising their children. It’s not the church. It’s not the school. It’s not your community. All those can play an important part. But it’s the parents who bear that responsibility, which help free us from the mindset where we overemphasize in homeschool to get your kids out of public school. You can have all the influence that you want. And then we saw children go to homeschool and turn out terribly. And children who were in public school turned out great. We thought, okay, we’re not quite seeing this accurately. So, the conviction that parents are the main means that God uses and have the primary responsibility for the children, that has not changed. That’s who God gives it to. That’s who we see as supposed to have it. And that our understanding that our children’s heart have to be regenerated through the Gospel. I think early on there might have been a sense from some that we’re just teaching our children to be moral, morally upright citizens. That was never the case for us. That was never the aim. There’s a lot of emphasis on training. And Proverbs said that discipline your son and he will give you a peace, there’ll be peace in your home. There’s a reason that you train children to be self-controlled. It’s so that your home will have more peace in it. Does that convert them? No. You need the gospel to do that.
Chap: What you bring up is this tension between regeneration and conversion – and training. It’s not a tension or it doesn’t have to be, but I guess I see it’s easy to go one way or the other. There’s just so much training that we don’t think about their heart needs to be regenerated or there’s no training at all. Or very little. So how have you seen that?
Bob: So how do you bring those two together? In other words, the Gospel grace is what changes everything. Our parenting is by grace, our children are to live by grace. And that grace means to love God’s ways. We are to love his word.
Chap: And don’t you think young children who are more malleable can be trained this way, even if we don’t know if their heart has changed?
Bob: Absolutely. In some ways it prepares the way. It provides containers to be filled. So when you teach your children how to ask for forgiveness. “I sinned in this way. I am sorry for that. Would you forgive me?” So those three steps. At the time they may just be mimicking your words, but over time, as they begin to see the implications of sin, it’s grievousness in God’s eyes, the effect it has on other people, their own guilt. Well then those words mix. They start to make sense and they already something there with which to communicate, you know, genuine, uh, asking forgiveness. So yes, the training, it also paves the way for instruction. If your children aren’t self-controlled, you have a much harder time teaching them. If they can’t listen to your voice, if they don’t respond to your voice, well how can you teach them? So, yes, there’s a lot of training I think that goes into preparing the way for their hearts to hear when God changes them.
Julie: And I think the thing we haven’t talked about is relationship. Always digging in deeper with our kids so that we have a close relationship. We’re not just putting up with them, they’re not the problem child. We actually love them. We actually pray for them. We hope good for them. And, I think as you stay close with your kids, bringing them the Gospel is so much easier because they see you do it. They see your life lived out. I think a lot of our parenting has been about our personal growth, so as we’ve been taught about indwelling sin, then we apply that to our parenting here as we learn about the idols of our hearts, that gets introduced to parenting. So it’s kind of as we have vibrant relationships with the Lord and are growing and imparting that to our kids and helping them process life the same way we are. I think it works. They are drawn to that rather than reacting to it.
Bob: If there’s not the ability to communicate, it becomes shooting missiles over the bow. You’re just fighting and you’re always at odds. And that to us has been a key element of being even able to parent. Until we’re able to actually talk to our children and have a meaningful conversation, it’s not parenting yet. I mean, it’s not good parenting. It’s something that God wants to use to change us. We have to see something about the sin in our own hearts and ask what’s going on here? I can’t even talk to my kid? And that’s what a lot of parents of older kids say, I can’t even talk to my kid. Well, God’s a Redeemer. Jesus is a great Savior. It’s not the end of the world. Maybe they’re sinful judgments that have arisen in your children’s minds and hearts, or maybe there are accurate perspectives of you that your children have that you don’t even see yet. And maybe that’s what God’s doing. And we’ve just experienced it first hand and seen it happen to other parents where as we humble ourselves and come to grips with the sin that God wants to deal with in our hearts, that has an effect on our kids. We’re able to talk and we’re able to come alongside them and help them see what it means that Jesus Christ is the Savior and what the Gospel means for their lives.
Chap: Yes, that’s great. When you think of God is using this to mold me, no matter what happens, you’re going to sustain. I need to live before the face of God, no matter what happens.
Bob: Yes. And that’s what you mentioned earlier about being faithful. We’re seeking to be faithful to the God who saved us to reflect his heart. It changes your views. I can’t get angry at my children because God doesn’t get angry at me. And I’ve stand in his way countless times. And he’s not throwing in the towels and saying okay that’s it. And I never fear coming to him because I’m coming through Jesus. The father loves me as his son and yet how different our parenting is when our children disobey and we start to make them feel like you can’t even talk to me. I’m going to cut out these things. I’m not going to bless you in this way.
Chap: We really connected it at TGC over the phrases, affection and authority. Isn’t that really what we’re talking about? There’s affection, there’s relationship and even there’s authority which may be with younger children, much more explicit, but that I don’t, I mean, that doesn’t ever go away. It never goes well, you know, if I give you the keys to my car, there’s some rules that go with that. So there’s always that authority, but there’s both, there’s affection, love, joy., and, and I’m a, I’m the authority. Yes. Right?
Bob: Yes. It changes to counsel over time. We become our children’s counselors. And I don’t know if we talked about this at the conference, but one of the takeaways from our parenting over the years has been a different understanding of what maturity means. So as we are raising our kids, what are we aiming for? What’s the mindset that we’re aiming for at which we can say, okay, you guys are ready to go off. And of course, conversion is the first goal. I mean, we want to see our children have a living relationship with the eternal God, our Creator through Jesus Christ. We want to have them come to the place where they are staking their eternity on the fact that Jesus Christ, the son of God, died on the cross in their place, bearing their sins, bearing the punishment for their sin, the wrath of God, for their sins. And he absorbed it completely for them as their substitute. That he rose from the dead. And now he is a living Savior for whoever trusts in him. We want them to come to that knowledge and be able to live as a Christian, whether mom and dad are, they’re saying, well, you have to do this. How is your faith? So that’s the first thing. But the second thing is maturity doesn’t mean that you can do everything by yourself. It means that you mistrust your heart enough so that you will do three things. You will receive correction that’s brought to you. You will seek out correction. In other words, you’ll seek the input of others and you will be self-disclosing. Those three things kind of shaped our parenting of teens in terms of are they ready? Are they ready to move out, to get married, to move out beyond us because we recognize that like all the mature people we knew they acted that way. The mature people weren’t the ones who said, “Well, I can do this on my own. I can live by myself. I don’t need counsel. Yes, I don’t need your counseling.” And so, teens can start to think maturity is me not needing my parent’s counsel anymore.
Julie: And that’s what the world teaches you. You’re taught that that is what maturity is in stem. For me, the little picture that helped me so much was when kids have their learner’s permit, that’s my least favorite time. And I realize until they got to a place where their first reaction was to put their foot on the brake, once they did that, I was good. I was like, okay, you’re ready to get your license. But as long as they’re just careening through and like, “I’m for this, then I am not confident. And I think that’s exactly the same way. I want my kids to have this healthy suspicion. I want them to say, I might not be seeing all of this situation clearly and I need other people’s eyes on this.
Chap: So just to repeat, to receive maturity is distrusting my heart enough to receive correction, seek out counsel or correction and then self-disclosing.
Bob: We’d have these conversations with our teens and we’d always feel like they were asking for permission rather than asking for wisdom and we didn’t want to do that. So a number of times we’ve told them, you know what, we don’t want you to come to us just saying, “Hey, can I go to this party?” That’s a yes or no answer. We want you to come to us asking, “Would it be wise for me to go to this party?” We can talk about that because that’ll help you be wiser, hopefully. And then, we can even maybe establish guidelines where if you do go, what would wisdom look like? You would come back and tell us everything that happened and you, you told us how you would influence, you told us temptations you had and those kinds of things. That became our aim as our children got older and we didn’t do it perfectly. We had some issues with our last one. They were really significant where we realized that we had not been parenting her as closely as the others. We tried some new things and they didn’t work very well. It was during a very significantly challenging time. We had moved and we realized she had just gotten to a very dark place. And so we had to learn some of these things all over. But that’s what being faithful looks like. It’s not what she knows. She had examples. We did the right things with her.
Chap: What you’re talking about here is that it’s great when we’re having a conversation and just talking about this, but then, oh yeah, there’s life. Life happens to you, so you lose your job. Someone gets sick. There’s all sorts of instances and to say, oh yeah, that’s affecting my kids. You might be going through certain things, your own self and they’re going through it as well.
Bob: Yes. We see ourselves as an encouragement to parents who would say, well, we did everything. We thought we did everything right, but some of them just aren’t turning out right. So we had two that were particularly challenging at different times. One who was converted from the birth, we feel from birth. I mean, not really, but it seemed as though she was. She was just always talking about God, always loving Jesus. That was our fifth and it just helped us see that we didn’t cause that. God decided I’m going to give you an easy one. But I will tell you, the ones we had challenges with were the ones we learned the most from.
Chap: That’s cool. Tell me, What do you say to those parents of prodigals? What are just a couple of snippets that you say to those parents of who asking, “What have I done wrong?” What would you say?
Julie: I have been wanting to say something about just not parenting out of fear. Because I think when we’re there we tend to not parent well. We clamp down on things. We try and control things. We think it’s up to us somehow. So I think having a steady trust in the Lord through it and knowing even when it’s looking bad, God’s still good. He’s still at work. With Devon when he was rebelling, like he wouldn’t let me hug him. It was a horrible time. And through that, I realized so much and it was like turning a Mack truck around. Like htwo steps forward, three steps back, one step forward, two steps. It took forever for him to finally be converted and changed. But through that I was just like, Lord, you’re trying to teach me something in this. And for me this was taking so long. I would be in a Sunday meeting, hear this amazing message and think Devin is going to be down front crying in conviction after this. And he would have bolted and run out into the lobby, which he wasn’t supposed to do. I would think, this is so crazy. And then I was like, no, this is for me. And I just realized. I couldn’t be the Holy Spirit in his life. I wanted to keep correcting him. I wanted to keep giving him input and be faithful in that, but I could not use my words to bring conviction only the Holy Spirit can it. So that was very releasing because I felt like I became so much more dependent on the Lord through it. So I was grateful for that. It made me a more steadfast person, I think having gone through that with him.
Chap: Well that’s a great word for moms. I think perhaps they may struggle more with fear in situations like that. Anything else?
Julie: You feel like it’s up to you, I am somehow responsible to make this happen. And it’s not that you back off and say, “oh Lord, I trust you,” you stay in the game but just not constantly correcting. Just correct for the right things. And then trust the Lord that he’s at work. He loves your kid more than you do. And he’s at work. So just trust him.
Chap: You highlighted it again, one of those tensions where you’re like, “Okay, I’m not saying I’m just backing off, just trust the Lord.” You’re in the game. You’re in. We went through some times like that and it felt like a jungle. You just felt like, I’m just whacking through the jungle with a machete. I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow and yet you’re in it. And yet there’s something else going on in your heart where you’re really seeking the Lord. Trusting, actively, trusting.
Bob: Trust is not doing nothing. God has given us means of seeking. The proverb that I was referring to either earlier was 29:17, “Discipline your son and he will give you rest. He will bring delight to your heart.” I think that’s especially true in the early years. All kinds of promises that God gives us you were to be involved. We can’t predict the outcome. Man makes the plans, the Lord direction the steps. But one of the things that I think is important for parents to be absolutely crystal clear on is my standing before God and before others is not dependent on the spiritual state of my child. It’s such a temptation. And I know when our children were young, I very much wanted to be seen as a great dad. I still want to be seen as a great, but not as much. Because that’s not where my standing before the Lord comes. It comes from Jesus and who he is, his perfect life, not mine, his payment for my sins and not mine. Sometimes parents can punish themselves thinking, “Oh, I’m just horrible.” However bad you are, Jesus paid for all of it. He atoned for all of it. There’s nothing about your sinful parenting that he did not cover. And that’s so freeing. Involve others when you have a prodigal and ask for help from parents who have walked through those seasons and respond. We sometimes ask for help and we feel like we’ve done our job. Well no, if you don’t change, you’re not going make any progress. Listen to what people say and apply what seems to be true.
Julie: I would say too, just maintaining a really close relationship with that child even when they’re stiff arming you. When Devin was going through his stuff we just fought all the time and he was into basketball. I used to love college basketball. I used to watch it with my brothers and I was like, okay, I’m going to sit and watch college basketball with him. And I would just fire questions at him. “What was that call?” “What was that?” And then I still love college basketball as a result of those years, but it was something that we could talk about. We would talk about it all the time so I kept us close in the midst of so much other pulling away. So just seek out those things, whatever it is whether you just take them out for coffee and not confront them. Just talk to them. Just stay close to them.
Bob: When I meet a dad who has a child eight to 12 years old, I always share this with them because it made such an impact on my life. I just ask him, “Are you getting one on one time with your son?” And having written The Disciple-Making Parent, I would assume this lines up with some of the thoughts you would have on parenting. In fact, I wish we were interviewing you. But I realized this late, it wasn’t till Devin was 12 years old that I realized I’ve missed these last four years of one on one time with you. Of just taking him out and talking to him, finding out what are you thinking, what do you like during those middle school years. During those middle school years kids are berzerk. There’s so much coming at them. Everything’s exciting. Everything’s meaningful and significant. And we have the chance to sit with them and just say, “Hey, what if you could do that?” Or “Why do you like that?” So for parents who have prodigals I always encourage them, do you get with them? Do you just hang out with them? It doesn’t have to be this incredibly meaningful time. But if you’re praying for your child, which we haven’t even talked about that, but that is the foundation to everything, You’re bringing your children to the Lord every day, just like Job did. You’re just praying for him. I’m just saying, “Lord, please draw them to you.” You know you’re praying specifically. But as you get together with them it says so much. If you buy the meal that says you’re willing to part with money, which for me as a cheap guy, that was huge. It means that you’re willing to invest the time. Out of all the things you could be doing, you want to be with them and it starts to have an effect. If they don’t like you, if they hate you, they start to realize, “They really care about me.” And it’s the kindness of God that leads us to repentance. I think that’s such a significant verse we overlook. So many times we’re thinking about how to bring discipline, how to bring correction, how to get the truth into our children’s life. Well, have you thought about being kind? Have you thought about blessing them? Have you thought about just showing them unusual graciousness? No. Well, would you want to hang out with you? Those are questions that I ask myself and realize, no, I wouldn’t want to hang out with myself. So I tried to become someone that my son would want to hang out with. We didn’t connect like Julie and him did. I didn’t connect like that. But we did talk and we could talk. A few years ago someone asked my son, do you remember any things your dad did or said that kind of were turning points for you? He said I remember this one time my dad asked me why I liked Dennis Rodman, the basketball player who was arrogant. He was just bad boy of the NBA and had tattoos on his body. And my son said, I knew that he was asking me because he wanted to know. And I remember that conversation because it was so different for me. I purposed to ask him, enter into his world and find out what is it that that makes you work. And he said he’s a leader and he works harder than anybody on the team.
Chap: Yes. I am a big believer in one-on-one. I actually took my kids out on donut date. So a little spinoffs from The Disciple-making Parent is, that I have a doughnut date journal for parents take their kids out for exactly that. You get some questions to ask and that’s great investment of time and it is.
Julie: And not to grow weary of not seeing the fruit that you’re hoping for. I remember with my oldest daughter when I started going out with her, I would just ask a hundred questions and hope that one of them she might answer. At one point I realized I’m just teaching her how to be a communicator because she doesn’t even know how to do that. And we got closer and closer as a result of that. But it can be painstaking.
Bob: The idea of not looking for fruit too quickly, it’s something that Charles Bridges says in his book on Pastoral Ministry, that we’re to labor without too quickly looking for fruit. And that’s just hard to do. I see young parents who say, we’ve trained our child to be respectful and it took us two weeks. I think, you have no idea. I love your enthusiasm, but you have no idea what’s coming. Because in a week from now, they may be worse than they were before. And you just can’t think this is how it works. But I can say being faithful, and knowing this in your heart, is what the Lord say;. being faithful over the long haul in the little things produces fruit much greater than we’d ever think possible. I was in a seminar with my son, both of my sons and we were doing a, a panel on family worship, which this might encourage someone who’s listening. We had terrible family worship times. So I just taught 10 Things Learned from Doing Family Worship Times Badly, that was what the seminar was. My oldest son said at one point said I really don’t remember much of anything of our family worship times, but I do remember coming down every morning and seeing you reading your Bible and that really had an impact on me. I was being faithful to pursue the Lord. I want to grow as a son of God. And it’s very comforting. I told my both my boys I’m going to be an imperfect parent, but I know this, my goal is to help you see that there is nothing and no one more important than Jesus Christ and knowing God through him, there is nothing more appealing, nothing more attractive, nothing more satisfying than knowing him. And I’m going to do everything within my power to point you to his glory and his goodness. So that’s what we taught them to do. And you know what? We’re still doing it. And we’re good friends with all our kids. But I can say that my two sons are some of my closest friends and that’s by the grace of God.
Chap: That’s really cool. Let me finish up with one last question. I’m wondering if there is some things that you wish you could say to younger parents, young moms. Maybe not some sort of biblical teaching, but something that you would say, I see this cultural wind blowing through an Evangelical Christendom in the United States.
Julie: I don’t know if this is answering that question. But, I was thinking how we were both first generation Christians and had no idea how to parent and had never even thought about it and weren’t taught well. Now I see second generation kids tend to react to things and throw out things that they maybe didn’t like. So the pendulum swings and I think I want so much for people not to just react, but to really ask their parents questions rather than assuming that they know why we made the choices that we made.
Chap: We’ve talked about in our church that it’s really hard as an older person to say, can I lay some wisdom on you? You may see something, but you don’t feel the freedom to say something if someone asks you. There are much fewer nosy, older people but there’s really a lot of wisdom there if the younger generation would just ask.
Bob: Older parents don’t think they have it all together. We realized how little our experiences and our practices are “the key”. It’s God’s Word. It’s the Spirit of God working through the Gospel, Jesus who was a real Savior. That’s what we have. We all have the same means, the same resources. And if we think, we are in the Internet age were parenting advice can come from anywhere. We had parenting magazines and articles in the newspaper, our doctors. But there is no greater resource than the Word of God. And if we’re building our parenting on tips and techniques that we got off the Internet, we’re going to have a rude awakening. The Word of God is a perfect, infallible, inerrant, eternal word. And he gave us the resources we need to know to raise our kids. We just don’t believe him. I think one of the areas that this generation, a very tolerant generation, is afraid of is being different from the culture. And so one of the areas would be in the area of loving correction. It is not the end all, is not the only ingredient of parenting young kids, but if young kids don’t realize there was an authority and consequences to breaking the laws of that authority then they’re going to grow up with a warped view of God. And it’s all about God. Our parenting is all about who God is and how he relates to us. That’s how we want to communicate. So that’s why authority and affection are both so important. So I think there’s a fear in younger parents to look weird to look, to say, “oh my gosh, I gave my child a spanking.” Well, you know what, that’s just in the Bible. It’s God saying don’t do it in anger, don’t do it erotically, don’t do it foolishly. But unless children know there’s a painful consequence to sin, it’s just going to be like a choice that you have. So don’t be afraid to stick out. We stood out in the 80s when our first child was born in 1980 and I think Christian parents always stand out. You can’t raise your child to be cool and raise them to be like Christ. It’s just not going to work because coolness involves what people think of you. And to follow Christ, you have to be concerned with what He thinks of you and who He is. Coolness is all about what people think of you and what they say and what value they give to you. And I find a lot of young parents kind of a falling into that trap. They have a good heart in terms of wanting to be involved with a culture much more than media which is great, but in the midst of that, you are going to look weird at times and praise God. Jesus said, he gave you a promise. He said, “blessed are you when men persecute you and say all kinds of evil things about you, for my sake, rejoice and be glad for great is your reward in heaven.” I think that applies to parenting just as much as it does to your school or the workplace. We will look different. And I know that God is always raising up a generation of children through godly, fearless parents that only hear God, who are committed to their children and raising them for the glory of Jesus Christ. And that’s happening even now. And it’s a happy thing and just brings me great joy to know that there are parents who are giving their all to seeing that next generation raised to proclaim the glories of God in Jesus Christ.
Chap: Well this is great, I don’t want this to end so I can we reserve about a couple of thousand years and just a hang out. But thank you for your time and, and uh, we, we need to bring this in, but thank you so much for your time and your perspective. For your gospel orientation, heart orientation and experience as well.
Bob: Thank you so much. Thank you for the honor of being on your podcast and for writing your book, which I have not read yet, but I can tell just from the chapters there is a gold mine in there of Biblical truth and wisdom for parents. So thank you for what you’re doing and praise God, we get to do it for his glory.