Parenting, as many can attest, is the hardest job in the world. If you are like me, sometimes it makes you want to pull out the rest of what is left of the few hairs on your head. Parenting, if you are lucky, really breaks you. Don't get me wrong, I sometimes still wish I could trade one of my kids in for a new one ;), but the thing that grounds me is the truth that God is working... even in me... through the struggles. Being broken, though painful, is a good thing -good especially because I know it comes from my Father's hand.
One of the things it constantly breaks me of is my self-willed spirit. I must rely upon God. In fact, God is the one who must work. I am merely an agent, a conduit, a facilitator. It is God the Holy Spirit who must work in the hearts of my children. This means my job is to use means with and for my children through which God can work on their little hearts. It means that I cannot neglect things like daily reading the Word of God, I cannot neglect things like praying with them regularly, I cannot neglect things like reading good books with them or using their rebellion as an opportunity to display the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them, and I cannot neglect things like praying for them.
I have a responsibility to do these things and to keep the main thing the main thing. I must do them, myself, or I will have no strength in my fight. Do my kids need Algebra and good language skills? Sure. Do they need "manners"? Ok, yes. Would it be good for them to learn how to play a musical instrument? Yes, I believe so. But the thing their little depraved hearts need the most is Jesus Christ -to be both forgiven and transformed by Him and the power of His Gospel. I can work with them, try to help them along and provide various motivators and rewards and encouragements, but really the only thing which will turn their hearts and direct their hearts for their good and God's glory is Jesus.
This means I need to quit comparing myself or them to other families or other kids. What a trap. It means I should be conscious of my job and take responsibility, though trusting in God to do the work even over the long haul. For all I know, none of this may take affect until they are grown with childern of their own. I can't guarantee how or when or even if God works through it. I just know that I must trust and obey Him.
They are idolaters, like me, but I must provide (and be) the means through which God works. O God, help me! In You I trust. Grant me the strength and perseverance to do what I must do, and when that means, "Get out of the way," give me the wisdom to do that and stop seeking to do your job.
Though slightly different, this sounds pretty much like what a pastor's job is. God help the pastors! May they be true shepherds and not CEO's or celebrities.