Being a parent is one of the most rewarding yet challenging things that we can do. There’s laughter and joy, but then there’s also heartache and tears. It’s so easy after a long day to just want to sit on the couch and unwind, but is that what is best for our children? The Bible teaches us to train our children, but isn’t that what the church is for? I believe these questions, like any question in life, can be answered by Scripture, so let’s look at a few verses.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 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.
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
These are just a few verses throughout Scripture that not only teach us that we are supposed to train (teach) our children, but also show us what exactly we’re supposed to teach them. Deuteronomy 6 makes it clear that our first priority as parents is diligently teaching our children to love God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our might. I think teaching our children about God is something that we all understand. Where I believe there is a disconnect in today’s society is when and who is teaching our children about God.
My first ministry experience was teaching kids and teenagers in both Sunday School settings and mid-week classes. I did my best to teach doctrine as well as proper Biblical living in modern times for young people. I soon began to experience the same difficulties that many youth pastors experience across the country – the church can only do so much when it comes to leading children “in the way he should go.”
I remember parents coming to me and asking why their children were acting up, why they weren’t doing what the Bible said, why they were being disobedient, etc. and tried to lay the blame on me. At the beginning it used to bother me, until I did some simple math. I’ll show you the same equation that I did. In each week there are 168 hours for a child to use. 56 of those hours are spent sleeping, 56 are spent in school, and if your children go to church every week, approximately 3 are spent in church. That leaves 53 hours throughout the week that are spent playing, doing chores, reading, or being with their parents at home.
This is the where the disconnect comes in that I referenced earlier – that parents today expect the church to teach their children everything they need to know about God in a 3 hour/week timeframe and it be enough. That is not the case. Here’s the hard truth parents: your children look up to you, and will almost always listen to you more than the person teaching them at church. If you are not living a life at home that exemplifies Christ, living the same teaching that is done at church, then the 53 hours they spend at home with you will override the 3 hour lessons they received at church. It’s not a lack of teaching the Bible that causes children to turn away, it’s a lack of seeing it taught and lived out at home where the problem arises.
Deuteronomy 6 shows us that it’s not just about what is taught, it’s about when it is taught, and that “when” needs to be at home. Look again at what the verses says: 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. As parents, we need to be teaching God to our children first thing in the morning, at night, when we’re home, etc. Now I know it may not be practical to always have a Bible lesson going throughout your day, but you teach just as much with words as you do with the way you live. Your life ought to be teaching your children Christ always.
Notice that the writer is speaking to parents as those who are the ones given the responsibility of teaching their children. I don’t want you thinking though that the church doesn’t have a responsibility to teach your children the Truth, because it does. What I do want to get across though is that teaching our children is meant to be a partnership between the church and the parent. What is taught at home is solidified in the mind of the child at church, and vice versa.
The best part about this is what we find in Proverbs 22:6, that says when we train up a child in the way he should go, that he will not depart from it. Ultimately it becomes a win-win situation. The child learns God, learns to live a life of faith and trust, and through this we as parents become blessed.
“…A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is a sorrow to his mother.”
The Bible teaches us in many Scriptures that our life is a marathon, not a sprint. Teaching our children how we ought to and what we ought to is much the same way. It’s an investment in both their lives and ours, because when we establish Biblical truths in their lives, both parties ultimately reap the reward.
Start teaching them now. Start a family devotional. Start evening and morning prayers. Start talking to your kids about the struggles they have with their faith. Experience God together as parent and child. Enjoy the journey! I promise you it will be worth it.
No responses yet