3 Lessons for Parents

January 18, 2024
By: Sam Luce

One of the things you learn in seminary is to never use Latin words when an English word will do. This is because Latin is a dead language and the use of Latin terms devoid of explanation and context comes across as pretentious. Nevertheless, valuable truths in some phrases have been handed down to us through church history. Three of the most profound Latin phrases hold for us truth that, if applied, will help us in our parenting.  

Parents Need Mercy

“Kyrie Eleison” means “Lord have mercy.” It serves as a confession and a reminder that we depend on God for everything. This is particularly helpful for modern western parents who value autonomy and self-reliance more than anything else.  

Parenting in a post-Christian secular age can feel like you are treading water in an endless sea of quicksand. The more you move, the faster you sink. Christianity is being increasingly pushed to the margins of society.  

We counter this trend toward individualization and personal autonomy by confessing our need for mercy frequently. That confession—“I need help”—is important because it reminds us that we don’t have the resources within ourselves to save ourselves, save our kids, or lead others in the way of Jesus. We believe that we depend on God’s plan, the work of Jesus, and the Spirit of God to lead us.  

As a parent, we need more than life hacks and meal plans. We need mercy. We need to remember that we have received mercy and will thus be inclined to give mercy to others, including our kids. In Scripture, the people who prayed this prayer were without hope. The Canaanite woman (Matt. 15:22) and the blind men (Matt. 20:31) understood their condition and cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us.” Praying for mercy regularly is a powerful and necessary reminder that God is God and we are not. We say Kyrie Eleison because we need mercy.  

Parents Are Under God’s Care

“Coram Deo” means “before the face of God.” This is a phrase that reminds us that God is sovereign and good. That we live under His watchful care and that He takes better care of us than we take care of ourselves.  

If there was one thing that would change how we love, correct, and admonish our children, it would be to remember that God hears our words, knows our thoughts, and rightly understands our motivations. This should make us pause to check our motivation, think rightly about the situation, and speak with grace and truth in correcting and encouraging our children.  

So many parents are wracked with guilt around their failures as parents or filled with pride based on the outcomes they don’t ultimately determine. Living before the face of God places our confidence where it should bein Christ alone. It also brings great hope knowing that we serve a God who sees our needs, hears our prayers, and acts on our behalf.  

Parents Have Hope

“Post Tenebras Lux” means “after darkness light.” Job 17:12 says These men change night into day; they say, ‘The light is near in the face of darkness.’ Post Tenebras Lux was the rallying cry of the Reformation. It is the understanding that what keeps us in the darkness is the light that comes to us and fills us with hope.  

Parenting has lots of days that are marked by sorrow and regret. We are often reminded of the ways we failed our kids. I have found that what parents need most in the darkest days is hope.  

In Voyage of the Dawn Treader, there is such a profound moment where four siblings are on a boat adventure with seasoned sailors, and they come to an island where all your dreams come true. It isn’t until they enter a cave on this island and are surrounded by total darkness that they find out the dreams that come true are not your best dreams but your worst nightmares.  

With no way out and no hope of escape, the youngest sibling prays, “Aslan (the Christ figure in the book), if you have ever loved us, send help.” As soon as she prays this prayer, a beam of light comes in the darkness in the form of an albatross and lands near the child whispering, “courage dear heart.” In a few moments, the darkness turned into a greyness, and then, almost before they dared to begin hoping, they had shot out into the sunlight and were in the warm, blue world again. All at once, everybody realized that there was nothing to be afraid of and never had been. And then first one, and then another, began laughing. 

This is a word for parents. So often, our dreams for our families become almost like and sometimes exactly like our worst nightmares. But, God by His Spirit is saying to you, “Courage dear heart.After darkness comes light. You may be in the darkness of night, but no matter how dark that might be, the light of the gospel, the light of God’s love, can reach into your darkness and bring light, hope, and courage when you need it most.  

We are reminded in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “Therefore, we do not despair, but even if our physical body is wearing away, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary, light suffering is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison because we are not looking at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen. For what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal. 

We do not despair as parents, no matter what we see. Instead, we: 

  • Cry out to God for mercy 
  • Live our lives in front of our kids for God’s glory and before God’s face 
  • Remember no matter how dark it gets, we have courage and hope because after darkness, light 


Sam Luce

Sam is the pastor of global ministries at Redeemer Church in Utica New York where he has served for 24 years. He holds two master’s degrees from Knox Seminary: in Biblical Theology and in Christian and Classical Thought. Sam is an avid blogger and writer as well as a frequent conference speaker. He is most passionate about discipleship and making much of Jesus. In his free time, Sam enjoys time with his family, baseball, and reading. You can connect with Sam through his blog samluce.com or via Twitter @samluce  

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