Originally published Tuesday, 19 June 2012.
You shall teach them diligently to your sons 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 up. Deuteronomy 6:7
This verse encompasses one of the greatest responsibilities of the Christian parent- to teach your children the ways of the Lord. And not just teach them once in a while, but constantly teach them while you walk through the grocery store, drive from school, sports practices and errands (I am sure that is the modern context for walking by the way!), while you watch movies, while you wash dishes, fold laundry and help them with their homework. Psalm 127:3 says that your children are your heritage; what kind of heritage and legacy will you leave?
A youth pastor friend watched sadly as one of the youth rebelled more and more until he disappeared from church and landed in jail. This student’s mother came knocking on his office door to blame him for this tragedy. Surely, it was his fault for letting this happen. There is actually no place in Scripture that instructs youth and children’s pastors to teach kids anything about God, that privilege is gifted to parents. Actually, the Bible makes no reference to children’s and youth pastors because that privilege and responsibility Scripturally falls to the head of the household. Specialty pastors are there to be an added benefit to what parents are already teaching their children. Teaching your children is your legacy and treasure.
While Christian parents should not miss the blessing in following through with this task, it is not reserved only for biological parents. Paul refers to Timothy as his child in the Lord. Whether or not you currently have kids at home, you can be passing on a legacy of truth, love and grace to those around you who might need to grow in the things of the Lord. My mentor and I used to go for walks, chatting about what the Lord was doing in our lives… kind of like the verse says, “to teach them diligently… when you walk by the way.” How might you dedicate your life to passing on God’s ways to the next generation? They desperately need it!
Ideas for parents:
• Read a chapter of Proverbs together as a family every night at dinner, before bed or whenever it best fits into your schedule. There are 31 days in the month and 31 chapters in Proverbs so you can read the chapter that corresponds with the date. Don’t worry if you miss a day, just pick up where you are supposed to be.
• Dedicate one evening a week as family night. Eat a great meal together ("great" might be easy and quick for your family or it might be more special) then play a game together or some other interactive activity. During dinner ask everyone to write down something they are thankful for this week, they may or may not want to share their “praise report” out loud but collect each one, place it in a box and then read them as a family on Thanksgiving.
• For your tween and teen kids, set aside a special (as nearly uninterrupted as possible) time each week to sip some cocoa or tea and hear what it on their heart and mind. Those will be special memories for both of you! By listening to them, they will be more apt to listen to you.
• Commit to being your children’s teacher. My baby sister noted the other day that after age five, a parent is merely required to be the night watchman for their children. A system of one sort or another is available to pick children up for school, contain them from 6am to 6pm and feed them in between. That system is also expected to teach them values, morals, discover their individual uniqueness, applaud them, give them opportunity to develop their gifts and send them soaring into a bright future. No one will love your child like you and no one could ever replace you as their teacher. God designed it to work that way. Whether or not you feel confident in that role, God has a plan and design that is bigger than any of our insecurities or mistakes!
Check out Walking with Jesus 101: One Hundred and One Days of Devotionals to Strengthen your Walk with God Most of us have wished for a Cinderella moment when we could step into a new pair of shoes and in the blink of an eye have our lives transformed. Or, perhaps like Dorothy, we wish we could close our eyes, click our heels and find ourselves instantly transported away from the adventure we accidentally got dropped into. While it might not come from new shoes or heel clicking, God knows our need for a changed life and fresh start! Discover the life transformation that happens when you say "Yes" to God and step into His fullness. Walking with Jesus 101 is a collection of devotionals journeying through the Scriptures that point our feet to God's pathway for living. What walk of obedience, leap of faith or stand of endurance might God be calling you to? He has good things stored up for His children who eagerly seek His highway for living!