My oldest daughter, Natalie, is best described with one word: sweet.
She is nine years of sweetness and joy held together with art projects, Puppy Place books, giggles and a fierce love of all things horse. She is compassionate and sensitive, eager to do the right thing and quick to step in when someone needs help.
She’s also a Pharisee.
I can say that, because I’m a recovering Pharisee myself. (I think many oldest children struggle with Pharisee tendencies. That kernel of responsibility planted in us by our birth order often grows into a tree of self-righteousness. For more proof: See the Older Brother in the story of the Prodigal. Notice he wasn’t the younger brother. Interesting.)
A few months ago, Natalie and I were talking about sin on the way to school (not a daily occurrence, I assure you), and she said something like, “Well, I’m glad Jesus died for those people who are bad. But I’m not a bad person. I’m good.”
Inwardly, I smiled with understanding. Outwardly, I reiterated what we say often in our house: We are all born with a twisted heart. No one is really good. Some people may look better than others on the outside. But our souls are infected with a fatal illness. Jesus is the only antidote.
And in my marrow, I was convicted once again that my job as a parent isn’t just to raise kids with good behavior. I want nothing less than changed hearts. Even a Pharisee can look good. Only a God-believer can be good.
Enter "Spiritual Parenting" by Michelle Anthony. I was given the opportunity to review this book last month. I don’t do many reviews these days, because my life is scattered right now, and I’m trying to maintain a healthy dose of margin.
But this book? The tagline is “It’s not about perfect behavior. It’s about passionate hearts.”
Yes please. That’s a parenting book I wanted to read.
At its core, Spiritual Parenting then is not merely a book on “how to parent.” It’s far more than that. It’s a book about how to view your role as a spiritually minded parent, the God-given role that is yours alone. Essentially, it asks the question, “What is my end goal in raising each of the children God has entrusted to me, and then how will I parent them with that end in mind?”Oh my word. AMEN! That’s how I want to parent my children.
With that perspective, I can take my focus off a series of day-to-day events and set it on the bigger picture of passing on my faith. Each moment of every day becomes an opportunity to parent toward my God-given goal. I parent in a way that does not simply spend my hours but allows me to invest my days toward eternity.
- Michelle Anthony, "Spiritual Parenting"
Michelle goes on to (rightly) say that we can do little as parents to truly change our children’s hearts. That is the Holy Spirit’s job. But we can give the Holy Spirit room to work. To that end, she details ten “environments” we can build into our home that will allow our children to “not only hear God’s words but also have the opportunity to put them into practice.”
Intrigued? "Spiritual Parenting" is on sale right now on Amazon for only $10.19. Or you could win a copy of Michelle’s book and her corresponding children’s book, "The Big God Story" by leaving a comment on this post. David Cook has graciously agreed to send one of my readers an early Christmas present. I think its wisdom will encourage you, whether you have a Pharisee or a prodigal.
David C. Cook supplied me with a copy of "Spiritual Parenting" and "The Big God Story" for the purposes of this review. My opinions are strictly my own. The links in this post are also Amazon Affiliate links, which means I will earn about two cents if you buy one of Michelle's books by clicking through my blog. Comments will close Sunday, December 5 and a winner will be chosen at random that evening. I will let Natalie draw the winner. Because Pharisees are especially good at rule keeping.
UPDATE: We have a winner! Congratulations to Amy from Occupation: Mommy. Your books will be in the mail shortly!