"Where is my wedding ring?" My heart started racing in panic.
I noticed my ring was missing and immediately started to look around, thinking quickly about where it could be and why it wasn't on the ring holder like usual. My thoughts went to my then 4-year-old daughter, Rachel Beth.
Immediately I questioned her. "Have you seen my wedding ring, Rachel?"
She replied, "No. I don't know where it is."
I asked again, my anger and frustration welling up inside me because I knew she might be up to something by the way she was squirming. After another minute, she said, "I know where it is." She then proceeded to go into the playroom and climb up on the window seat to get it out of a hidden place where she had put it. She quickly became remorseful, kept saying she was sorry, and then burst into tears.
After she gave me back my ring and apologized again, she looked up at me and asked, "Mommy, are you mad? Do you still love me?"
My heart stung hearing her ask me that question. "Rachel Beth, of course I love you! I will always love you no matter what you do." I had to say it again. With that reassurance, she bounced off my lap and left the room as if all was well and nothing had happened. But, then I thought, "Yes, I forgave you, but what you did was not okay."
I was bothered by the thought that she might not take what she did seriously, and so I called her back in to talk to her about it again. After getting to the real motive and hearing the "why" of what she did, appropriate consequences followed her wrongful choices.
We certainly don't have to teach our kids to sin. Can I get an "amen?" It comes quite naturally to commit any sin contrary to the word of God. It's only by God's grace and forgiveness through Jesus Christ that any one of us is able to be free from the shackles of sin and follow the Lord.
No matter if we are 4 or 40, it can be a daily battle for many of us because of our sinful flesh. And because my preschool children are not yet believers and do not fully understand the Holy Spirit's indwelling in us to help us say 'no' to sin and to live for the Lord, as parents, we must spiritually intervene on our children's behalves and pray for God to protect them from the enemy! If we as moms and dads don't, who will?
Minister's kids are certainly no exception to the temptation to sin. In fact, if you haven't noticed, the enemy is watching our kids closely. We know that the general reputation of minister's kids (whether true or not), especially as they get older, is that they rebel, push back from expectations put on them, and separate themselves from their minister parents so they can be a "normal kid" or teenager who is not any different from their peers. As a pastor's kid myself, I recall how difficult it sometimes was for me to navigate the teen years, especially. God protected me from many potentially detrimental things and I know that protection came because of my parents' faithful prayers for me and my brother during our teen years. They faithfully prayed daily for us and spiritually fought for us when we weren't capable of fighting for ourselves.
What can we as parents do to fight for our kids spiritually when they can't or won't fight for themselves? Here are 5 ways we can fight:
1. Persistent prayer: This is the single most powerful response we could ever have.
2. Unconditional love: Choosing to respond with Christ-like love, compassion and acceptance will speak to our child's heart and conscience.
3. Godly grace: Just like God has shown us grace for our own sins, we can show God's grace to our child, and while undeserved, grace will lead to repentance and a heart change.
4. Faithful endurance: We must never give up, but be faithful and persistent until the battle is won.
5. Scriptural truths: His powerful, living Word, not our own opinions, speaks to the heart, where true change can occur.
We have the immense privilege and responsibility as mamas in our children's lives to be earthly examples of having a continued, steady faithfulness to the Lord, to be a "doer of the Word," and to be someone who will always walk forward in the Christian faith alongside them. We all want our children to experience all of God's best for their lives. As we seek God's face on behalf of our kids, no matter their age or stage in life, we must continue to trust and believe that He will keep them, guard them, and show them personally who He is so that they will desire to joyfully and confidently walk in His ways all the days of their lives.
"I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth," (3 John 1:4).
Joanna Jespersen is the wife of Ryan Jespersen, Director of Urban Missions at Texas Baptists, and momma to two princesses, Rachel Beth (4) and Mary Kate (2). Being a pastor's wife in Dallas taught her a lot about the unique challenges and blessings of ministering in an urban setting. She has a heart for teaching and counseling, and enjoys crafting, thrifting and traveling with her family. She writes "love letters" to her little girls and really treasures the time she currently has being a stay-at-home-mom.