Driscoll: Preemptive Parenting


“Pastoral Parenting,” part 3 Adapted from “Pastoral Parenting” by Mark Driscoll in Trial: 8 Witnesses from 1 & 2 Peter, a study guide. (Mars Hill Church, 2009), pages 66-68.

Sadly, much parenting is reactive rather than preemptive. What I mean is that rather than cultivating a biblically informed love for Jesus and others, some parents are careless in their instruction and correction until a child’s attitude and/or conduct become critically concerning.

Examples include the parents of an angry boy who don’t work with him until he’s facing expulsion from school for fighting and even then merely take him to church, hoping that alone will fix him. Or the junior high girl who has become sexually active with her boyfriend so her parents, who have not pastorally parented, suddenly sit her down to read Bible verses to her without any relationship, hoping that magic will happen and she’ll immediately act differently.

Preemptive parenting means making daily deposits of love, grace, instruction, correction, and trust in the bank of a child’s heart so that when crisis moments come there is a wealth of investment from which to draw. Subsequently, preemptive parenting should begin from the womb when parents should be praying for their unborn child, and include Bible reading and instruction with the children from their earliest days.

One example of preemptive parenting is found in the life of Timothy. He is widely regarded by many as one of the finest and most trustworthy young men in all of Scripture because of his faithful and fruitful ministry with the apostle Paul. Paul recognizes the important role preemptive parenting had in shaping Timothy: “from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15).