In this brief article I want to challenge you to consider two words that may not seem to go together at face value.  The words are ‘parent’ and ‘steward’. When we hear the term ‘steward’ our minds tend to go to thoughts of money and possessions. When we hear the word ‘parent’, we think of kids. Certainly kids cost a lot of money, but that’s not the point here. 

In the Biblical sense, the idea of being a steward encompasses every area of life, including our kids. So, let me ask you, do you see your parenting role as a stewardship responsibility? Let me come at this a different way. 

Ownership vs. Stewardship

In our ministry at The Steward’s Journey, we challenge people to examine the ownership tendencies in their life. These are the places where we like to be in control, believing that if we can direct how things turn out we can make our lives better. Of course, it’s a delusion, because there is very little over which we actually have absolute control. The desire to control is based on pride and fear, and it yields the stress, anxiety, fear and frustrations we feel in life. An ownership mentality is the fruit of Genesis chapter 3, where Adam and Eve grasped at the desire to be like God (Genesis 3:4). In our own lives we get lured into the same deception, duped into the notion that we can play God in some areas of our life. 

The opposite of ownership is surrender. When we acknowledge that God owns everything, including our relationships, our identity, our world, and yes, our kids, we take a major step in the direction of becoming joyful, faithful stewards. So, what does this have to do with parenting? Well, everything. Parenting with an ownership mindset is a recipe for disaster. You can spot, or should I say ‘hear’ an owner-parent a mile away. Believing that we can control the outcomes in our children’s lives, we allow our own pride and even our self-identity to become wrapped up in the actions, attitudes, successes and failures of our kids. 

If you don’t believe that parents can act as owners, seeking to validate their own self-worth through their kids, attend a Little League baseball game. Seriously, it’s one of the most blatant examples of how parents wrap their own identities in the success of their children. It’s a heinous deception the Enemy weaves into the hearts of so many parents. What is the way out? It’s found in a daily prayer of surrendering our children back to God. That may sound like a small, even trivial thing, but it is not. 

Parenting as Stewards

As parents, we must be reminded daily that our children don’t belong to us, they belong to God. They are His. As parents, God gives us temporary stewardship of their lives, but never ownership. Perhaps the best way to describe this is as follows; our job as parents is to steward the hearts of our children toward a relationship with their true Parent. That is, as fathers and mothers we are transitional figures, always seeking to direct our children toward a relationship with their true, ultimate, and eternal Parent. That eternal relationship is far more important than the temporary one we have been given. In a sense, God allows us to have His children in order to steward their lives in faithfulness to Him, with the ultimate outcome that they know their true Parent for all eternity. We have the joy and obligation of this temporary stewardship of the lives of these wonderful young people. 

When we take a steward’s mindset into our role as parents, everything changes.

So, let me ask you, how do you define success as a parent? Is that definition filled with accomplishments and outcomes you seek to control in the lives of your kids? Or are you willing to surrender control and seek God’s guidance for how He would have you steward the lives of these young people, and trust Him for the outcomes? 

This may be the hardest lesson I’ve learned (and continue to learn) as a parent of three wonderful young people, and now a grandparent of five. The more I try to hold on, the more I try to control, the more my identity gets wrapped up in that of my children, the more I fail as a parent. It’s only when and to the extent that I embrace parenting as a steward responsibility that I feel the freedom that God has for us as His representatives, His caretakers of the lives of the children He entrusts to us. 

So, are you an owner-parent or a steward parent?

It’s only when and to the extent that I embrace parenting as a steward responsibility that I feel the freedom that God has for us as His representatives, His caretakers of the lives of the children He entrusts to us. 

My prayer is that you may know the freedom and joy of being a steward parent. Trust completely in God’s faithfulness to indwell your work as a parent with His Holy Spirit to bring about His purposes for the lives of your children. Remember, God loves your children more than you do. They were His first, they are His now, and they will be His for eternity. May that be a source of joy and comfort as you steward the lives of the young people God has so graciously placed in your care for His glory.