4 "Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. 7 Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9, HCSB)Parenting is a tremendous responsibility. All of you with kids just said, "Duh! Tell me something I don't know". Though this is a pretty obvious statement, we often overlook the importance of some of our most basic actions. Things that maybe we haven't been paying close attention to...but our kids have.
In the passage above, it is clearly stated that God is to be the only (not just primary) focus of our lives. He is to saturate every feeling, thought and action. He is to permeate our homes in everything we do and say. He is to be the one constant because the primary mission field we have as parents is right in our home. We cannot tell others about Christ if we have not yet convinced our own household.
I going to simply share two areas that require our attention. There are many more than that, but these are two areas that I have seen parents overlook consistently in the matter of influencing their children's spiritual life.
1. If it's bad for their mind, it's bad for yours. I am guilty too. There was a time in my life that what I watched would have been different from what my kids would have watched. I am grateful for the wise pastor who shared with me his revelation that if he felt he had to send his kids to bed because they shouldn't watch what he was watching, then perhaps he shouldn't be watching it either. Isn't that true?! Why would we put something in our minds that we wouldn't put in our kids' minds? God calls us to a life of purity in mind and body. As a matter of fact, we are told that what is inside is what will come out of our hearts (Matthew 12:34), so we must be careful what we put in.
2 I will pay attention to the way of integrity. When will You come to me? I will live with integrity of heart in my house. 3 I will not set anything godless before my eyes. I hate the doing of transgression; it will not cling to me. (Psalm 101:2-3, HCSB)
8 Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable-if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise-dwell on these things.(Philippians 4:8, HCSB)2. If it's good for them, it's good for you. I am not sure why, but many adults feel that church was okay for them when they were young and it's still good for kids, but it's no longer pertinent for them as an adult. Some adults take their kids to church, but live lives contrary to what they learn while there. When children are sent or taken to church with the message that it is important and yet their parents fail to demonstrate it in their daily living, that speaks volumes to a child.
Thom and Sam Rainer conducted a study of church dropouts and reported their findings in their book Essential Church (Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2008) In this study they surveyed one thousand church dropouts and found that "more than two-thirds of churchgoing young adults drop out between the ages of 18 and 22" (3). An important finding that should inspire us parents to be diligent about living for Christ as well as attending and serving in church is that
Half of those students that stayed in church stated in our survey that their family discussed spiritual matters, as compared with only 30 percent of those that dropped out of church. Additionally, half of those students who were assimilated into the church indicated that their family actively served in the church, as compared with only 31 percent of dropouts. And lastly, 42 percent of those whom the church retained stated that their family prayed together regularly, as compared with only 22 percent of those who dropped out. The openness of spiritual discussion within the family helps dissolve any feelings of frustrations from the younger generation. When parents are open about their spiritual struggles and successes, teens are less likely to see hypocrisy (100).As you can see, it is more important for us to live right than talk right. It will leave a lasting impression on our kids. "Teach a youth about the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6). It is important that when we contemplate the spiritual raising of our children, we must consider our own hearts. We are told that we are to be like children in purity, but to be mature in our spirituality (Matthew 10:16, Mark 10:13-16, Romans 16:19b). When we live lives of purity, then we are teaching our children to do the same and then as a family we live for God's glory!
For God's Glory,
Chris S. Sweet