Sometimes my husband accuses me of always being “on” when it comes to our kids. Prior to our personal parenting journey, we both helped kids and adults to learn about Christ in multiple ways.
As a youth pastor, I saw kids who came to church because they grew up there and lived in strong, supportive, Christian families. Some kids arrived at church for the first time at age 17 with cigarettes in hand, sometimes slightly tipsy, they showed up seeking…something. They didn’t always know what.
My heart ached for them. They were the high energy, high effort people many adults reject. With little effort, they could cut you down to size and make you think you had nothing to offer them. Yet, they came. They knew, they needed something, Someone.
We worked on memorizing Bible verses while having fun together. One set of verses I clearly recall was found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9.
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.”
We practiced these verses daily, a little at a time, for a month. As the teens learned, so did I. I desired to become “that” kind of parent. It matters to me that we talk about Jesus and His passion for us whenever and wherever.
If a movie comes on that clearly goes against what God has said, I’ll either eliminate it from what they see (I’m a previewing parent) or pause it and ask them if they think God would like what is happening. I’ve been known to rewrite endings of movies to make them more Christ-centered in approach. Driving down a road, if we see picketers or interesting signs, I welcome the questions of my children so that I can share with them God’s view for the topic at hand. Even struggling beside my children is a blessing as we join together to figure out what God wants in our lives.
The only way to have this attitude on a regular basis is to constantly seek to learn ourselves. Both my husband and I consistently read the Bible and spend time with others who are growing in their faith. Without the continuous in-pouring of God’s Spirit into our lives, we wouldn’t be equipped to share or understand what we see.
I’m sure we still miss stuff or get it wrong, but we both know these two girls are the only ministry we’ll ever do that no one else can do. It matters so much that we try our best. Of course, we have a wonderful support system. Christ is our leader and we go to Him regularly in prayer asking for His guidance in our lives and in the lives of our children. We require His wisdom. Don’t all parents?
When we follow the guidelines of Deuteronomy, we feed our children, spiritually speaking. The word of God provides spiritual nutrition to help them grow. Those kids who arrived at our youth group had not previously been fed God’s word. Their hearts were like dirt. They needed nutrients or soil amendments added into their lives to enable them to receive God’s words for them.
Whether we start earlier or later, the value of God’s nutrition is unmistakable. Those of us blessed to start earlier may experience an easier journey. But any good gardener knows, yanking out weeds, removing rocks, and adding nutrients enables all dirt to develop into great soil.