By: Amy Dalke
Parenthood is daunting. Downright terrifying, when we consider the implications of raising the next generation.
And I do not consider myself a parenting expert. (At all, mind you.)
But I do know that fathers and mothers have the God-given responsibility to shape the lives of the kids they brought into the world. We are instructed throughout the Bible to instruct them, and train them up in the Lord.
Deuteronomy 11:18-21 says:
“You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.”
So what are we teaching them?
Or better yet: what are they learning from us?
I read something last week that hit me between the eyes, and prompted this blog post:
“The integrity of faith starts in the family.”
The context of this statement highlighted the importance of living what we say we believe. Of course this is important in all settings, but I was significantly struck by how crucial it is that we live integrated lives in our homes.
Integrity is defined as “the state of being complete or whole”; it comes from the Latin word, integer, which means undivided.
Does the story we tell in public, add up to what our children see within the four walls? Or do they get a divided view, where one half doesn’t equal the other? (We hide nothing from them, you know.)
A child’s belief system is built upon what he sees, and hears, and learns from his parents’ behavior. The old adage “Do as I say, not as I do” just won’t cut it.
When we construct a hypocritical model, you can be assured they will quickly learn to put on the plastic for themselves.
I have heard so much talk recently about how tragic it is when kids who have grown up in the church, desert the faith when they leave home.
Could it be that the “faith” which was modeled in the home, was disproportionate to the veneer of faith that was donned on Sunday mornings?
If we fail to model our own instructions, and hope on a whim that our children pick up a good trait here and there, then we should not be surprised when, as young adults, they think God is a waste of time.
Lord, have mercy, if these words steps on toes, I pray they come across as though saturated grace.
Because I’ve been there. I have stood toe to toe with this truth, and have come up short.
How could I ever expect Luke to easily set aside fears, when his mom was often stressed out over “the issue of the moment”? Is it so strange that his words are sharp and biting when he’s angry? It shouldn’t be. Since my words have a tendency to come out that way.
Parenting is not a job we can afford to take lightly; our role as Dad or Mom is the most critical one we will ever play, because training up a child directly influences his/her entire future. What we teach and model as parents affects what they believe about God, what they believe about themselves, and what they believe about others.
And it’s much more than what we say…but has everything to do with how we actually live.
So I challenge you to think about what faith looks like in your house. Are you painting the picture of faith you want to pass on to your kids?
Are you living out what they hear you say you believe?
p.s. Just so you know, I found myself flinching at every other word in this post. But I’m thankful for the reminder, because we do well to examine ourselves often…