By Drew Zuverink
"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."
As a parent you are one of two divinely mandated individuals on earth who are called to disciple your children. That might not be the reason you decided to have children but that doesn't matter. Your primary calling from God is to intentionally raise your children to become godly individuals who love God.
Studies are now showing that, in the United States, the Christian faith is being transmitted from parents to their children less and less each year. Meaning, there are many families where the parents are Christians and their children are not. How does this happen? Is it because the young people of today are more sinful than in earlier generations? No, it's because parents are failing to disciple their children. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 says to impress God's commandments on our children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you get up. In other words, spiritual conversations should be a regular part of our family's every day lives. Instead, "God talk" is often exclusively kept at church. To make things worse, many families make a regular habit of watching church virtually instead of attending in person. Over time children get the message loud and clear: our faith is not a priority. So do not be shocked parents, if you miss church regularly, or if you make a habit of watching virtually, or if you don't engage in spiritual conversations throughout the week, when your children do not go to church as adults. It is on you to show them that our faith is worth prioritizing.
Parents must also realize that forfeiting your opportunity to disciple your children will mean that somebody else will do it for you. Children are going to be molded and shaped by someone and if that isn't you, they're going to get their values elsewhere. In most cases that is going to be through social media, culture, celebrity and their incredibly wise teenage friends. Sarcasm intended. This needs to become our focus as Christian parents, it is a big deal.
Part of me is heartbroken and maybe even angry that we have to plead with parents to care for their children's spiritual well being. Shouldn't we be thrilled to engage our children in what matters most? Shouldn't we be overjoyed to see them taking their faith seriously? What could be better for a parent than to help their children grow in their relationship with God?
So don't confuse your children. When you tell them that faith in Jesus Christ is the most important thing in life do they see that in you? Or do they see you five times as passionate about the news as you are about God's word? Do they see you choosing church over sports or sports over church? Do they hear you asking them about their schoolwork but not their devotional life? Do they enjoy your mentorship when it comes to finances but when it comes to their faith life they're on their own? What you say is one thing but what do you show? Because that is what they're going to pick up on and learn from.
Make it your life's ambition to mature in the Lord and then pass that along to your children. If that means you need to wake up early to work on your own relationship with God, do that. If that means that you need to turn off the TV during dinner time and talk to your children about their experiences at school instead, do that. Whatever you need to do in order to faithfully disciple your children, do it! Because how we steward our calling as parents could have eternal consequences for our children. With God's help may the consequences be good.