“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. I call God as my witness that it was in order to spare you that I did not return to Corinth. Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy because it is by faith you stand firm.” 2 Corinthians 1:20-24
Paul wrote this to the Corinthian church. Yes, they had serious problems. Yes, he had to confront them firmly and exhort them to turn away from their sin. And yet, he lead with grace, full of confidence that God was at work their lives. His letter to them was positive and uplifting, calling them to their best by faith.
As parents, we must not “lord it over” our children, as if anything God would want to say to them has to come through us. This is especially true in adolescence and young adulthood. Instead, we come alongside them and work with them for their joy. We bring them to Jesus, who alone can save them, and then we help them to establish and grow in their own identity in Christ. We show them how to discern between right and wrong, without acting as if our own house rules (as helpful as they might be) are equal to Scripture in authority. Legalism will not transform their hearts! By our own example, we must demonstrate walking in the power of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to hear his voice in their own hearts. We will not always be there to tell them what to do, but he will. We can not force them to do the right thing (even if we can control their outward actions for a moment) but he can make them want to do it and give them the ability to do it.
Do you really want your children to stand firm? Then teach them to lean on God and not on you. And that takes mothering by faith and grace. That’s where he wants you anyway!