Ever had a child give a wild meltdown in the middle of Bill’s Groceries? Do you remember the feelings of frustration, embarrassment, and exasperation? In the middle of your anger and your child’s tantrum, what does the Gospel of Jesus Christ have to say to that? Read this great article by one parent, Gino, who with his wife Jill have dealt with this very question!
Parenting and Grocery Store Tantrums
by Gino Curcuruto
As parents of four children, my wife Jill and I don’t have to leave the house to have opportunities to disciple not-yet believers in Christ. Add to the mix that we also need to be reminded of and apply the gospel to our lives, and you have a small community on mission within the confines of our home! We don’t only go to missional community to make disciples; we are a missional community that makes disciples. We are always making disciples, especially when parenting our kids. This means that when a kid holding Legos in one hand and a lightsaber in the other wakes me up at 5:30 a.m. to tell me he’s hungry or has to pee, it’s discipleship time. I don’t get to throw the gospel out the window because it isn’t time to gather with others for worship or our weekly meal yet.
If we are to see the mission of Jesus move forward in our homes and neighborhoods, something more than a scheduled series of events or classes is needed. While these events and classes might be valuable equipping tools to help resource our people, only when we approach everyday life situations as opportunities to bring the gospel to bear on each other’s lives will we consistently learn how to walk in obedience to all that Jesus has commanded.
DISCIPLESHIP IN ALL OF LIFE
In the mess of everyday life, we must apply the gospel. Applying the gospel is speaking the truth of what Christ’s life, death, resurrection, and ascension has done for those who believe. The gospel radically changes who we are, and often in the ordinariness of everyday life, we forget who we are in the gospel. We are sons and daughters, made into new creations through the Christ. So, applying the gospel is reminding a believer of their identity in Christ by speaking the work of Christ into their particular situation, and by showing how Jesus is better than the current idol they are desiring in that moment. But to know how to bring the gospel to bear on their life, you need to not only need to know the gospel, you need to know the person too. You need listen to them, you need to hear or see what they struggling with. Applying the gospel requires proximity, life together. Paul said that it is through speaking the truth in love to one another that we grow up in Christ (Eph. 4:15).
Jill and I are blessed to be raising four children. This gives much opportunity for us to speak the gospel with them (and each other) in ordinary life. Discipling kids, much like anyone else, is no easy task. Apart from the work of the Spirit in our lives, it’s actually impossible. Left to ourselves, don’t we just want to manage our kids behavior so we are comfortable?
When a kid holding Legos in one hand and a lightsaber in the other wakes me up at 5:30 a.m. to tell me he’s hungry or has to pee, it’s discipleship time
We as parents are often more caught up in how our kids behavior reflects back on us than whether our children are honoring and displaying God. How often does our embarrassment by their sin lead us into shaming them? But do we stop and ask ourselves, “How is this discipling them to Jesus?” Truth is, it’s not. That’s just piling our sin on theirs and making a big old mess.
What if, as parents, we were so rooted in our identity in Christ that when our kid’s behavior is deplorable we lovingly corrected rather than hopelessly joined in? What if this kind of discipleship of our children became more common in our own lives? What if this was more common not only with our children but in all of our relationships? How much more might we proclaim the gospel if this kind of discipleship was our normal, everyday routine?
EVERYDAY DISCIPLESHIP IN THE GROCERY STORE
Jill and I will often and intentionally go grocery shopping together with all four of our kids. While this may sound a little like we’re asking for trouble, we do this intentionally so that we can “bump into” people we might know individually and strike up a conversation. Of course, there are times when this may seem to backfire when our four kids get a little out of hand. Crowded grocery stores, plus two adults, plus four kids, equals plenty of opportunities for our idols to surface. There is nothing like a little stress to pull our sin to the surface.