Pastor Monday talks about parenting that is distinct from any other kind of parenting in the world today.
First, we live in a society where two-income households and commutes to work are a reality. This reduces the amount of time parents have to be physically and emotionally present with their children. While some of this stress financial reality for today’s families, some of the stress is chosen. In a culture that values getting ahead and having nice things, parents are constantly fighting the temptation to put work and careers over family time.
Second, we live in a society that values learning and experiences. Parents are constantly presented with learning opportunities and programs that will help our children get ahead in life and a leg up on others. Join this “select” team. Take these lessons from an elite instructor. Acquire this skill when you enroll in our program. Soon, families find themselves scheduled, running, chasing after all these things. They might be good things; however, they subtract from family time.
Third, the “it takes a village” mentality can devalue the role of parents. The prevailing thinking is: As long as my children are in good programs, learning good things taught by good instructors, I am doing my job as a parent. Reasonable people could debate whether this is true.
What about spiritual education? When it comes to spiritual guidance, what does God have to say about the role of parents?
The Bible teaches that God has given the primary responsibility for a child’s spiritual education to parents. [Click here to see 40 different passages that express this truth.] If parents are to follow the scriptural imperative, they are going to have to fight our culture to keep the minds, hearts, and souls of their children front-and-center in their family priorities.
EMBRACE YOUR INFLUENCE
We’ve all heard the declaration, “It takes a village to raise a child.” That is true.
Parents, teachers, pastors, grandparents, aunts, uncles, doctors, counselors, employers and mentors all play a role in a child’s growth and development. In fact, those children with a wide variety of supporters benefit greatly from those connections. Yet there is one relationship that has the most influence of all these: Parents.
While parental influence might seem obvious, today’s parents have to battle a lot of cultural forces to ensure they maintain that influence. What do I mean by that?
What does parental spiritual leadership look like?
In a nutshell, parental spiritual leadership is setting God in His place as LORD of the family, and finding ways to include God’s Word every day family life. When Moses was instructing the Children of Israel, he described it like this:
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 doorframes of your houses and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)
God’s Word is to be a part of our daily routines – our home environment, our conversations, our travels, our waking-and-sleeping routines. Parents facilitate, but do you know who does the work? The Holy Spirit. Yes, God’s Spirit works in the hearts of our children, so that the Word takes root and faith grows. That happens whenever you share the Word, even if you feel clumsy about it (and many parents do!).
Let me interject here: Clumsiness is not an excuse to ignore your role as the primary spiritual leader in your household. Spiritual education is not something to be outsourced to those whom we think are more eloquent or more learned. In other words, we cannot send our children to church, Sunday school, or any type of Christian education and check the “done” box. While these influences are indeed great blessings and valuable, they cannot replace parental influence.
Parents are spiritual role models. Youth who have parents (especially fathers) who are spiritually active and maintain a good relationship with their children are far more likely to continue spiritual activity later in life (as measured by church membership beyond the rite of confirmation, LCMS Millennial Study 2018).
Parents are in a primary position to reinforce what other spiritual advisors say. When children attend church or Sunday school, they hear the message that it is important to be in God’s Word daily. What happens when children go home and see parents who ignore that message? They get the message that God’s Word is important for children and not necessary for adults. To be effective, the spiritual lessons learned at church or other Christian education settings should complement what is happening in the home.
Parents have lifelong influence. Teachers have only a moment to inform the head and tough the heart (even when they do that very well). Parents are in the position to influence children for the better part of a lifetime.
All of this discussion leads us back to why you’re here and what this website is all about. The church is here to equip you, fathers, mothers, and guardians – all leaders of households – to be the primary disciplers of your children. We celebrate God’s call to you to shape your child’s eternity through the gospel at home, by your words and by your model. There is nothing more influential in the life of a child! Through our ministry here, we hope to strategize with you, draft a spiritual game plan with you, and encourage you on to lead the children under your care in the way of the Lord.
No matter how ill-equipped you feel, we and your church will seek to surround you with other spiritual mothers and fathers from your extended family in the church to help you carry this burden. That’s the village. As you embrace your influence as primary spiritual leaders, the village supports you and raises you and your children up in prayer.
We want to encourage you. As difficult as this challenge is, God can do all things (Luke 1:37). And you can be sure of this: God wants nothing more than for the children under your care to know his grace and be a in relationship with Him through Jesus.