By Diane Hwang
When I was pregnant, I always had this perfect picture of what raising our children in the church would look like. I’d see cute pictures of families happily serving together on Sundays and watch excited kids running into church and I couldn’t wait for that season of life to begin for us.
As time passed and our season of parenting began, I realized that my reality of raising our children in the church didn’t look exactly like what I had pictured. While I pictured happy and obedient children in cute little outfits, the perfect cup of coffee in hand and serving with my husband and children with ease, our Sunday mornings often included an overtired and fussy baby who missed her morning nap and a toddler who refused to go to ChurchKids, our church’s children’s ministry.
I remember laying down on our couch absolutely exhausted after yet another Sunday of dealing with our toddler melting down and refusing to go to ChurchKids while our daughter cried the whole way home because she was hungry and tired. I couldn’t help but wonder if my son was ever going to like church and if things would ever get easier. Although I knew much of what he was experiencing was normal for his age, I was allowing discouragement from our current short-term struggle to overshadow our long-term commitment to raising our children in the church.
It was in that moment of discouragement that I heard God gently remind me that ‘every seed matters.’ I was reminded that although serving at church with two little ones in tow didn’t look like what I had pictured and was often more difficult than I expected, this was just a season and every time we made it to church seeds were being sown into our children that would yield a harvest.
This made me think about how so much of parenting involves faithfully sowing seeds in anticipation of a rich harvest to come. Whether it’s regarding discipline, teaching our children about Jesus, or building strong relationships amongst siblings, there are few areas of parenting that provide the instant results we want. Instead, parenting often requires us to invest our time and energy, day in and day out, to a long-term goal without any immediately visible results.
I learned a lot about sowing seeds in that season and the following four things helped me learn to parent with the long-term future in mind:
1. Know Your Family Values and Priorities
“When there is no clear prophetic vision, people quickly wander astray. But when you follow the revelation of the Word, Heaven’s bliss fills your soul.” (Proverbs 29:18)
When we have a solid understanding of our family values and priorities, they serve as the driving force for the decisions we make and help us to know what kinds of seeds we want to sow. For us personally, since raising our children in the church is a priority for our family, we are better prepared to stay the course when it gets difficult and uncomfortable because many of our decisions are based on this family value.
2. Trust that the Harvest is Coming
“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2)
Certain seasons of parenting require a great amount of sowing while others allow for a great harvest and when we know the hard work of sowing is purely for a season, with a time of reaping to come, it gives us patience to faithfully sow seeds. For example, with a toddler and an infant, knowing that this season of immense sowing won’t last forever helps us to stay consistent so that we can enjoy a future season yielding a rich harvest.
3. Choose Lasting Fruit over Current Convenience
“So let's not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
Sowing seeds without instant results is hard. When our child is disobeying for what seems like the hundredth time, it is often easier to just let it slide and deal with it another time, but when we do that we are choosing what is convenient over what will yield lasting fruit. While it probably would have been easier for us to quit volunteering and ‘do church’ from home most weekends, we chose to trust that as we consistently (not perfectly) showed up and leaned into Jesus each week, we would reap a harvest.
4. Trust God to Grow the Seeds
“I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It's not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What's important is that God makes the seed grow.” (1 Corinthians 3:6-7)
Lastly, as we sow seeds into our children, we must free ourselves from the pressure to control what we cannot and choose to trust that God will grow our seeds. As we sow seeds and release them into God’s hands and trust Him to bring a harvest in His perfect time, our striving and worry is replaced with rest and peace.
While I wish I could say we now enjoy easy, picture perfect Sundays serving as a family at our church, that’s not entirely the case; we still deal with meltdowns, rushed mornings, and the consequences of missed naps, but a sweet moment with my son recently confirmed that it is all worth it and every seed truly matters: As I was getting him ready for the park, he looked up at me with great excitement and said, “I want to go to church!” In that moment, I was so thankful that we stayed the course and chose to parent with the future in mind.
Diane and her husband have been married for three years and are raising their two small children in the rainy, but beautiful city of Seattle. After years in sales, Diane is enjoying her life as a stay-at-home mom and volunteers at her local church while her husband begins his new career as a police officer. She’s a lover of coffee, fresh mountain air, quality time with family and friends, and the Pacific Northwest. Check her out on Instagram and Facebook!