Parenting Back to the Future
by Joey Link
Wouldn’t you like to speed through time to see what you need to do now to prepare your kids for their future challenges? Let me take you there through a recent conversation I had with a couple who went through a Growing Kids God’s Way class we led some 20 years ago.
While he was growing up, they took their now adult son to church. He was active in their church programs. He was quick to memorize verses in their church’s AWANA program. He sat with them in church and paid attention. He was active in the youth group and went on a couple of mission trips. He was a bright young man and very good student in school. He didn’t really give his parents much trouble at all as he was a very compliant and responsible son.
Today he is a very good employee and yet doesn’t go to church or read his Bible. He has a great job making good money in the technology field which is pleasing to his parents. While this young man has good Christian values, they are frustrated as Christ is not the center of his life as they had hoped and expected from all that they put and poured into his life.
So, going back into his childhood from this point in time, what happened? What could they have done differently or better? We believe man has a free will and can choose to reject God and His ways, or he can choose to follow His ways. From being a youth pastor and seeing several kids walk away from their faith after they leave home, I don’t think it can all be attributed to free will.
These are many similarities that can be found in the rebellion of God’s chosen people, the Israelites. God said it best, speaking to His servant Isaiah when He said;
“These people come near to me with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship of me is based on merely human rules
they have been taught.”
Jesus saw the same thing in His day and quoted what God had said to Isaiah, speaking to the religious leaders of the day:
“‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.”
In talking to the young man’s dad, I asked him several questions that I would ask you to ponder about your children as well. We discovered in our conversation that they left out a few essential ingredients to help their son grow spiritually while he was in their home.
- They were proud their son passed the levels in the Awana club and was getting trophies and high honors, but they found he was only memorizing facts and figures like he would for a test.
- They thought the memory work he did in the weekly club was getting to his heart, but they were so busy with other kids and service at church that they didn’t have time to sit down and help their son think through what the verses really meant or how to apply them to his life.
- They were pleased their son came to church and paid attention, but they never talked about what the kids heard in Sunday School or the church service at home.
- They figured he was having a Quiet Time and praying every day, but they never talked to him about what he was learning in his devotions or getting from them.
All this was brought back to me recently as I was sitting in church trying to worship and yet was distracted by a young woman near me who was focused on her phone. I was even more disappointed with her constant texting which was stealing my attention from the sermon. I wonder why she even went to church that day.
Her two young children who were standing with her in worship just listening to the songs being sung, then they left for a children’s program. I had to wonder what follow up this young mother will give her kids at home, training their hearts to love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength since she wasn’t even worshiping God in their presence. I wondered if her cell phone wasn’t more of a God to her than God’s one and only Son who died on a cross for her. We all need to be careful our cell phones don’t become idols!
Do you know if your kids are only learning with their minds while they attend classes and programs at church, or are they learning with their hearts too?
You can help your kids move the teaching from their head to their hearts by:
– Teach them to think about Scripture to understand what God is saying to them.
-Help them understand why God put that teaching in the Bible to us
-Help them understand what God wants you and your children to take away from this passage in Scripture
-Know how they will apply these verses or teaching to their life
-Know what that will look like
-Hold them accountable for having their devotions each day. On Saturday night while my kids were growing up, I used to ask them to bring me their QT journals and share with me what God had been teaching them that week in their devotions. They were excited to share with each other and Carla and I and it was a great way for me to hold them accountable for having them.
-When worshiping, make sure they see beyond the fancy staging and lights and know WHO they are worshiping
-Print out the words of the songs sung during worship at home and talk about what they mean in regards to living the Christian life so they are more meaningful to your kids the next time they sing them
It’s one thing to take our kids to church and have them hear great songs and good sermons. It’s another thing to help our kids learn how to apply these to their lives. Instead of living through the next 20 years then looking back to see what kind of grades you got for mentoring your children in God’s love and the Christian faith, give them tests now. Test them to see what is in their hearts to see how close they are to God vs. the things of this world by having great family discussions to see what they already know and are learning each day, and especially on Sunday.
Summer time can be a good time to test your children to see what is in their hearts and what their motivation to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ is.
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