Mentoring Monday: Advocate or Adversary: Your view of God Determines your Parenting Philosophy

Severin Nilson

Seems that when I write on child discipline, I always get the most interest and controversy at the same time. I would never want to offend anyone, but it is a huge issue and debate amongst believers.  My desire is to offer, perhaps, some perspective and to encourage moms in this role. I never want to offend or hurt anyone's feelings, and yet, I have learned the a gentle answer turns away wrath. Our sweet children need our gentleness and patience even as we need God's.

But the questions keep coming: How do we do it? What is the method? What are the rules for every single situation, age, and how to match the discipline to the action? What to do? What to do?

And yet, I have realized over the years that the most important element to a Christian parent, in regards to discipline, is not the method, but the heart attitude towards God as a Father of us.

If one believes that God is works oriented, possibly harsh in correcting our sin, relentless in pursuing our keeping of the law, then one will be more likely to be harsh in discipline, and feel it is an obligation of parents to correct and point out every flaw of character and immaturity of a child-- that  correct behavior is the goal, then often, this person,  can tend to believe in harsh discipline methods, with a good heart, thinking they are saving their child's soul. This is the parent who embraces adversarial parenting.

However, I believe that the more a person truly understands the character of God and His mercy and love and patience and servant's heart as a parent toward his children, then one must adopt the role of an advocate towards their children as God is our advocate. Even as the Holy Spirit is our advocate and as Jesus lives daily to intervene and to pray for us, His children, so God is there to help us, to love us, to draw us, through His love and mercy, to His holiness.

Indeed, God is our advocate and models to us a parent's love that eventually ended for him in sacrificing His whole life for the sake of His children.

I loved this quotation from a book in my library.

“The One who knew said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” Happy, that is are those people who know that their spiritual power is small, that their creeds are imperfect, that their instruction concerning God and man is incomplete. Happy are those who know that they do not know all of the truth,. For only those who admit their spiritual poverty are willing to learn. Agnes Sanford, 1897-1982

Always with a basket of books by my comfy chair, I have been reading a wonderful book called Spiritual Classics, a renovare resource edited by Richard Foster and Emilie Griffin. I have read most of the books Foster has written.

What Agnes wrote so expresses my heart. How very grateful I am for the grace and patience of God as He leads me, his child. He is so committed to my own holiness and sanctification, but so wise and patient with me as I make progress. I am grateful He sees my heart. I try so hard, I fail so miserably and so often. Yet, He does not embarrass me or demean me, He simply walks this road with me, by my side, drawing me to His ways, coaching me to walk in His truth, teaching me to obey one day at a time.

At every juncture, He teaches me something new. He opens my eyes to wisdom, love, an eternal perspective. I know I am needy and weak.  I listen to His voice because he has been trustworthy. He loves me. He leads me in truth. He is my Father.

Thank God, He has never shown me all of my sin every time I sin. God gently works on one of my heart sin areas at a time, and has never blown me over with all of my immature attitudes. At almost 59, I am still learning and always so very disappointed at my ability to sin and to be imperfect. And still he loves me and forgives me and shows me His path, which leads me to freedom and peace and His unlimited love for me. This makes me want to keep following Him and loving Him. His love and grace lead me to devotion. I do not think I would respond well with harshness because I would just want to give up--I am well aware of my shortcomings.

But thanks be to Him, that it is His kindness and mercy that leads to repentance.

Please know that I cannot cover everything in one short video or blog and that I did train, teach, correct my children and teach the truth of God's word and show them consequences of their choices. However, the more mature I became, the more I understood God's parenting of me, and the more I had the heart to reach the heart of my children as God also reached my heart.

Whether a baby, a toddler, a teen or an adult, our hearts are open to those who develop a loving relationship with us and those whom we can trust to do us good and not evil--all the days of our lives.

And so I do pray that God will show you His love and mercy today so that your own heart will spill over to your children with love and mercy, and that you will become their advocates for good, even as our heavenly Father is our own advocate and gentle shepherd of our souls.


Winners of Mom Heart conference Tickets

Krissy Miller from Goodmorninggirls

and 571 Michelle Beauchamp from


Congratulations, Krissy and Michelle! So glad you won. Hope you have a wonderful time. See you there soon! :)