Posted by: Bob Clark | April 10, 2006

Parenting As Self-Worship

Back in graduate school I read a book by Larry Crabb out of necessity. A professor assigned it as required reading for a counseling course I was taking. Some assigned books you read and once you have taken the test you never think of them again. Not so with Crabb’s work. In fact, through the years I have read just about every book Crabb has written. I have enjoyed watching his spiritual journey through the years. Whenever I finish reading his latest release I begin looking forward to his next book.

This morning I have been reminded of an especially memorable passage from SoulTalk, published in 2003, in which Crabb shares what he believes was his biggest mistake as a parent. Through the years I have tried to express this same thought to parents, particularly young parents just beginning their task as stewards, but I have never been able to state it as clearly as Crabb does.

“My biggest mistake as a parent was to love our two sons too much. When each was born, I immediately added him to my list of first things. I didn’t see it; the mists of self-deception formed a thick dark cloud in front of my eyes, and what I thought was godly love for them was really narcissistic love for me. I was caved in on myself as I went to their ball games, coached them in tennis, disciplined them firmly, and taught them Scriptures.

“Seeing them turn out well—a legitimate second-thing desire—became a key piece of the good life I was convinced I needed in order to know joy. My religious journey as a parent was an exercise in self-worship dressed up to look like godly fathering. I was a fool” (Larry Crabb in SoulTalk, p. 207).

While I could quibble with some of the language used in this passage, I strongly agree with Crabb’s point. Sometimes parenting is an exercise in self-worship.

Having a child is an amazing gift from God. And the greatest gift we can give to that child is to have God as our first love, loving Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength.

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