I love the security of method. I like to know that if I follow steps A, B, and C then I will achieve a desired result, and in this, I am not alone. Much of what passes for Christian teaching today attempts to boil the Bible down and condense it into method. So, we read about seven steps to this, or we hear about three steps to that, because we find a peculiar comfort in a method that guarantees Christ-likeness.
If you talk to us about parenting, then you will find much of the same thing. We recommend friends this or that book which describes our preferred parenting method, and if we follow the described method carefully, then we can expect our children to grow into the adults we desire them to be. Unfortunately, life isn’t so simple. It is possible to follow all the right steps and not achieve the desired result, especially in parenting, and furthermore, it is also possible to follow a method to the letter of the law without the godly spirit that makes the method effective.
Here I’ve found one of the blessings of parenting a child with a hidden disability. The Bible gives much wisdom on the subject of parenting. Methods attempt to take that wisdom and apply it to daily life, which allow us to have confidence that by following the method we are following the Bible. However, disability reveals the innate limitations of parenting methods. For example, when a child has limited to no communication skills, like my son on the Autism Spectrum, the sure-fire methods begin to break down. No one has written Shepherding an Autistic Child’s Heart (not to pick on Tedd Tripp and his useful book). The insufficiency of our method forces us to boldly confront a scary reality: parental inability.
There are no guarantees in parenting. Parents are fallen people raising fallen people. Only the Holy Spirit possesses the omnipotent and sovereign power to transform our children into the godly men and women we desire them to be. While the recognition of such inability might lead some to despair, it ought to rather give us great hope since it demonstrates that as parents we are dependent upon a good and great God. Our methods may be flawed and at times we may be inconsistent. We will even sin against our children in many ways. Yet, despite our imperfections, God remains on his throne.
Even though my flesh desires the security of a method, Jude’s Autism has taught me the security I have in God as a parent. I am learning that being a godly parent means much more than following steps A, B, and C. Being a godly parent means daily seeking the face of God, interceding on behalf of my family, and being daily transformed into a father who reflects the very character of God himself. Good methods can be helpful, but they are no replacement for a mom or dad who walks with God. Greater blessing lies along the paths that remove our inadequate securities and cast us more completely upon our all-sufficient God because these paths ensure that God alone will receive all the glory.