Parents are always communicating with their children. A touch of restraint on the arm, an encouraging word after school, or a hug before bed all convey important truths. From the casual smile across the dinner table to the tear-filled conversation before bed, every exchange with my kids is an opportunity....
How would you answer the following question: “Who is responsible to lead your children in their spiritual development?”
I know the answer to that question. The answer is me. And you. As parents, we are responsible for teaching our children about the Bible and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Understanding that it is my job to be the primary faith trainer is the easy part. However, actually leading or helping to lead my family in the teaching of God’s Word and the gospel of Jesus Christ feels difficult and daunting. I often feel insecure, overwhelmed and inadequate. There are several things that I find difficult as I embark on the task of leading my children to Christ. Perhaps you do, too.
I don’t feel qualified. As parents, we strive to guide and help our children in many areas of life. We want them to be successful emotionally, intellectually and physically. But, in order to do this, we often farm out tasks to various professionals for much of the help and services we need.
Some of us do this with the spiritual development of our children, relying on the church to teach our children about God. I don’t know Hebrew or Greek. We often don’t know the exegesis of the passages of the Bible. We think, Why would I embark on leading my family in an area in which I feel so totally ill-equipped? Many families “do right” by their children in bringing them to church or Sunday school. When these things are in place it can seem like the job is being done properly and sufficiently.
We ask, “How can I be qualified to teach my children what they need to know about Jesus Christ?”
My life feels overwhelming. Today, schedules seem to take on a life of their own. Our schedules are much too full. Even when we are not that busy, we are busy. Truly, our schedules may be full of good things – so many good things that we feel we don’t have time to add more. These include important, yet time-consuming activities for our children like sports, lessons and friends. We don’t want our kids to miss out on these!
We might think that our kids are too little to understand what we want to teach them about Christ. And so we put it off until they are older. But then we may feel that our kids are too old and set in their ways to be open to the gospel or to listen to us teach about God. Sometimes it is just easier to give up than to confront the eye-rolling and the “this is so boring” routine we get from our kids. And let’s be real: Getting the whole family together for a dinner can seem like a small miracle in itself.
We ask, “How can I overcome what feels impossible in order to do what is right?”
Culture influences me. According to the culture, the child is to be the center of the family. We may not believe this, but we have been influenced for sure. We are all trying to keep up with schoolwork, providing for our families, and keeping our homes in order. Our lives are defined for us by what we do, how much we have or don’t have, and how well our kids behave. Family and friends push us to keep up with them and to do things their way. It is hard to keep the truth at the forefront when we are bombarded by moralism and self-centeredness at every moment. Sometimes we are blinded by culture, not realizing that what we are doing should not be the priority in our homes.
We ask, “How can I go up against the tides of culture and stand firmly in the Word of God?”
If you, like me, are feeling unqualified, afraid, or unable to start Christian parenting, be encouraged by these three truths:
You can trust God. In 1 Corinthians 2:6-16, Paul tells us that “we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.” When you have an active relationship with Jesus Christ, you have the gift of the Holy Spirit in you, and that makes you qualified to teach your children in Christ. The Lord has created your children. He knows how many hairs they have on their heads. He loves them. And he chose you to be their parent.
Because this is true, you can trust God that you are indeed qualified by his choosing to teach your children about faith and the gospel.
You must obey God. In Genesis 18:19, God says about Abraham, “For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to him what he has promised him.” You are commanded to care for the souls of your children. God has directed you to “train up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6).
You must obey God by teaching your children to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. And we know that God blesses those who obey him. He will bless your efforts.
You will receive help. In John 15 Jesus says, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” The good news is that we are totally dependent on our God, and He delivers help to accomplish His good purposes. We must talk to God about our concerns, fears, and failures. As we pray for help in leading our children, God will provide. Nothing is fruitful without Jesus Christ, and so we must ask for the Holy Spirit to move in our hearts and in the hearts of our children. Pray for your kids and with your kids. Ask God to guide you as you teach your children about their Savior, Jesus Christ.
You must pray that the Lord will give you strength and endurance to talk to your kids about Him…all the time!
Remember Deuteronomy 4:4-6:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
If you put aside your fears and insecurities, trusting God and taking responsibility to lead your family in their spiritual development, will it change the way you parent? I hope and pray that it does. Let me pray for you.
Lord Jesus, We are totally dependent on you for guidance, wisdom and courage to lead our families in matters of the soul. It is a sacred privilege to be a part of what you are doing here on earth and in the hearts of our children. Help us learn your Word and impart the Biblical truth of the gospel to our families. Help us to trust you, to obey you, and to start now, knowing that you will provide the strength and endurance we need. Lead us as we lead our children.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.