“To follow Jesus is to journey down the path of sainthood.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – July 8, 2021
To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 1:7, ESV
I recently came across a beautiful quote from a holy man of God known by very few in the Western world. St. Porphyrios, a 20th century Greek monk from Mt. Athos, gave an incredible bit of advice to parents seeking to guide their children in the way of Christ. “Become saints and you will have no problems with your children.”
Sainthood is not the exclusive calling of a few monastics living isolated lives of prayer and solitude. No, according to St. Paul, the entire church in Rome was “called to be saints,” to be filled with the fire of God and live daily in his goodness and love. This is the path that lies before each and every one of us, young or old, single or married, childless or parents. To follow Jesus is to journey down the path of sainthood.
However, with this quote from St. Porphyrios in mind, I want to speak briefly to those called to raise children, as well as those who support parents and aspire to one day be a parent. The wisdom in these words is that it invites us into a parental style that is focused primarily on our own faults, not those of our children. Since parents sit in a seat of authority over their children, it is easy to fall into the trap of only identifying the faults in others, rather than seeing our own. Or, in the words of our Lord Jesus, to see the speck in your brother’s eye while ignoring the plank in our own (Matthew 7:5).
If a life of repentance for our own faults is the first step of faithful parenting, the second is to see that repentance transformed into a life filled with the grace and love of God, to become a saint. The best parental example you can give your children is to daily pursue God and sacrificially love your spouse. This embodies and makes tangible for your children the love God has for them.
While it is easy and understandable to parent in a responsive and reactive way, simply trying to quench the fire of your children’s misguided passions, rarely does this bring the change you so deeply desire. Treating symptoms alone – stop fighting, eat your dinner, do your chores, be kind to your sister – fails to treat the root causes of the sickness. For us, and for our children, the aim of life is not behavior modification but is nothing less than transformation into the likeness of Christ in and through the power of the Spirit.
Pray for this transformation in your children’s lives, and pursue it daily in your own.
Father, restore and heal us we pray, that we may live holy lives that inspire our children to love you and live their lives as citizens of the Kingdom of God. Amen.
How can you take your parental energy for behavior modification and redirect it into your own pursuit of a holy life?
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