A few weekends ago I had the privilege of leading a baby dedication for some friends of mine at their home for their three children (aged two years old and younger!). Friends and family gathered as my friends made a public commitment to raise their children according to God’s Word. Baby dedications provide a great opportunity for friends, family, and parents to gather together as they make a commitment to raise their children in the way that children should go (Proverbs 22:6).
As the central message in the service, I shared three things I want my kids to hear from me and Kristen. Yes, there are more than three, but here are the ones I shared:
1. “My mom and dad value me.”
As you know, the world we live in is marked by pain, hurt, disappointment, and hatred. We see brokenness in our culture and pain in our relationships. Kristen and I parent two seventh-grade boys and we know the challenges kids encounter in school. Whether it’s obnoxious, foolish boys or mean girls, much of life communicates a message that says we’re worthless and lacking in value.
God’s Word says the opposite. Rather, we’re filled with value as human beings because God made us in His image and likeness. Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” As followers of Christ, we believe we’re filled with value because God made us. He demonstrates His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
Matthew 10:30-31 says, “And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” God values and loves us more than we know. Moms and dads have the opportunity to remind their children of the immense value they possess. We, as parents, are to value each child for their unique wiring and appreciate their differences. A parent who loves his children well reminds them that they’re valuable.
2. “My parents serve me.”
Left on its own, this is a dangerous statement. Part of the reason why so many kids grow up entitled and spoiled is that they grow up believing life is all about them. They think all other people, especially their parents, exist there to serve them.
But we, as parents, possess a unique opportunity to model the way Jesus loves us in the fashion with which we serve our kids. Mark 10.45 says, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Further, Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
Think about it: when you parent your children, especially when they’re babies, all you do is serve, serve, and serve. But, they need you to serve them. They need you to provide, cook, do their laundry, and so much more. Of course, as they get older, things change, but the parent who loves his child serves them as Christ served the church. Even as they get older, opportunities will always exist to selflessly serve and show the love of Christ to our kids, and even someday to our grandkids.
But, it better not end at serving your kids. Which leads us to #3.
3. “My parents take responsibility for my growth, which at times involves some hard conversations.”
The parent who loves their child sees their role as a parent as a unique opportunity to not just watch their child grow physically, but rather to help them grow spiritually, emotionally, relationally, and mentally. My friend Andy Savage says it well: We get 7,000 days with our children from the crib to college. That gives us 18 years in our home to help raise our children to (someday) leave our home.
Sometimes we encourage our children with our words, and other times we discipline and challenge them. Regardless, the loving parent at times disciplines their child (see Hebrews 12:5-11), but always uses their words to build their children up according to their needs. Paul writes in Ephesians 4:29, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Value. Serve. Grow.
Being a part of my friend’s baby dedication reminded me of the significance of the opportunity we get as parents to raise our children in the best way. We know they will stray at times and we pray they’ll walk with The Lord all the days of their life. I’m also reminded that while the church or even the school can help play a role in my kid’s growth and development, that it’s our primary role as parents to raise them up. I pray my children will know that mom and dad value serve, serve them, and take responsibility for their growth. At the end of the day, if they can say these three things about Kristen and me, then we’ll know we’ve done our jobs well!
As I said above, I know that there are more than three things I want my kids to know. What else would you add to this list?
This post originally appeared on ScottKedersha.com and was republished with permission.
Scott Kedersha is the director of premarital and newly married ministries at Watermark Community Church in Dallas, TX. He’s a loyal husband and father to four boys.