Parents are literally the creators of their children. We tend to think of God as our Creator, which He is. But He didn’t create us out of nothing. He partnered with our parents as co-creators. This is a position of great honor. We represent God to our children and we will be judged for how we steward this responsibility.


God created men and women in His image so they could in turn create sons and daughters in their image. When Adam and Eve gave birth to Seth, who was the beginning of a godly family legacy on the earth, Genesis 5:3 says Adam “became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image…” Being able to reproduce ourselves is core to our identity as image-bearers. We can more fully relate to God as a Father and as a nurturer (ex. Deuteronomy 32:18, Isaiah 49:15, 66:13, Matthew 23:37) because we ourselves can become fathers and mothers. We better understand what it means to be part of God’s family because we can create our own families.


Being a parent teaches us about God’s experience. We create free-will beings that bear our image. We feel unconditional love for them. We carefully control their environment to nurture them like God did in the Garden of Eden. We give them commands for their protection like God did with Adam and Eve. We allow them to exercise their free-wills and experience the consequences of their choices like God did when mankind fell. We want to bless our children and help them mature, but we cannot control them like robots. We guide them the best we can, but they ultimately decide for themselves whether to return our love, what choices to make, and what kind of character to develop.


In early childhood, parents are literally like God to their children. Children look to their parents for everything. They learn how to walk, talk, and think by watching their parents. They learn how to treat others, what a man is like, what a woman is like, right from wrong, and truth from error. They believe whatever their parents teach and imitate whatever they model. They are like soft clay in a potter’s hands. After co-creating their physical bodies at conception and birth, parents go on to shape their children’s souls.


Parenthood is a call to ministry. Jesus said in Matthew 18:5, “Whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me.” The ultimate fulfillment of this statement is parenthood. Parenthood is also a call to greatness. Jesus said in Luke 9:48, saying, “Whoever receives this child in My name receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me; for the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great.”


A primary purpose for becoming a parent can be found in Romans 8:29, which says, “For those who He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son.” We become parents to be conformed to Christ’s image. Successful parenting causes us to become someone worthy of our children’s emulation so that when they see us, they see something of God’s nature.


People only retain a small percentage of the information they are taught, but retain as much as 90% of the information they teach to someone else. This is good news for parents since parenting gives us occasion to teach wisdom and righteousness to our children. When we teach our children, the Lord continually checks our hearts against our words. If we teach them about forgiveness, respect for authority, humility, stewardship of time/money/talents, etc.…, the Holy Spirit is right there to ask us whether we are doing those things ourselves.


What We Long For

Human beings are relational. We crave love and acceptance. One reason there is nothing more wonderful than being in God’s presence in heaven is because He is the Ultimate Source of security, identity, and purpose. With Him, we are fully known and fully loved. With Him, we know we have infinite value.


By contrast, there is nothing more terrible than being separated from God in hell. In hell, there is no sense of being loved or secure. There is no purpose to fulfill or hope for the future. There is only grief and fear.


As representatives of God, parents have the power to give their children tastes of heaven or tastes of hell. There is nothing more wonderful for a child than being unconditionally loved by its creators. The security and identity that come from such a home environment are irreplaceable. However, there is nothing more awful for a child than being neglected or abused. The insecurity and trauma this produces can be unbearable. 


God Delights in Us

Several years ago, I was planning to spend a day with my seven-year-old cousin, but I felt a little anxious because I wasn’t sure what we could do that would be fun for her. When I shared this with my wife Jenny she said, “What matters most is that you genuinely enjoy being with her. If she senses that, it will impart so much value to her and it won’t matter as much what activity you end up doing.”


This resonated. About 15 minutes later I sat down for a devotional time and happened to read John 15:11, which says, “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” It struck me that the greatest joy we were created for is to experience God delighting in us. Just the like passage says, first He takes joy in us, then our joy is made full as a result.


When children experience their parents delighting in them, they begin to believe they are valuable, loved, and secure. A parent’s capacity to give this to his children is related to how much he is experiencing this himself from God. Therefore, a parent’s first task is to grow closer to God so we can better mirror Him to our children.



In the next chapter, we will learn more about how God fathers His children.