“Don’t Risk It! Train Your Children In The Things of God!”
The other day I came to a two-way stop sign that I pass all the time. This particular road is a little precarious because of how these two sections of road become one. Another car on the other road also came to the stop sign. I noticed the driver was busy looking at her phone. It was my turn to go, but I worried, “She’s not seeing me.” Sure enough, without so much as a glance from her phone, she accelerated right ahead. As she passed by, I noticed children in the car seats in the back.
Now, we’ve all dealt with and even been bad drivers at one time, but this incident got me thinking. What if I too wasn’t paying attention? There could have been a bad accident. But most of us do it. Is there anything on your phone that is worth risking the safety of your children?
There’s a solemn responsibility that men and women take on when they become parents. Full disclosure, as a father of two young daughters, I continue to learn and grow daily. I am not claiming superiority nor expertise in this area. However, the Bible is a sufficient guide when dealing with this topic.
“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward” (Psalm 127:3). “Grandchildren are the crown of the aged” (Proverbs 17:6). The Bible is clear: children are a blessing, not a burden. Yet, we constantly complain about them and often find ways to keep children busy so they “won’t bother us”. Instead of a blessing, we act as if children are a curse. I’m tired of hearing parents speak so poorly of their children! Instead of complaining about your child, train your child in the things of God.
While some try to skirt their responsibility, parents, you have the primary responsibility to teach your children. Your child’s first and number one teacher will always be you. You teach them through your words and actions. The family is an immensely important institution created by God, and sadly, it is slowly being devoured by the popular culture. Parents no longer understand their responsibility to their children and instead believe schools, churches, and extracurricular activities are enough to create “good kids.” This is just not true.
Theologian Ligon Duncan writes, “The family is the original society from which every other society emerges.” Therefore families, especially those who profess the Christian faith, must heed the call to rightly train up children in the ways of God. Children are a gift and blessing from God, and parents must take seriously the task that has been placed before them. “The family,” Duncan explains, “is the first place that God appointed for teaching and learning about God and godliness.” While many contemporary churches split up families into small groups for learning and discipleship, Duncan believes that the family is God’s divinely appointed “small group” which should rightly operate as the place for growth and discipleship for every member of the family. The goal of every church should be to have discipleship and worship happening in every family unit, for every husband to become the spiritual leaders of the household, and for family worship and discipleship to be the fountain of “healthy, robust, corporate worship.”
Family worship is built upon three basic practices: singing, Scripture reading, and prayer, ideally, led by the father as the spiritual head of the family. When family worship is invigorated, the life of the church is invigorated. As parents lead their children and give godly examples to their children, the family will see church attendance and family worship as an essential part of life, a vital aspect of their devotion to God. Through these daily practices and patterns, the family grows together and in their individual walks with God. Duncan believes that “the profoundest things we can repeatedly do to promote a heart for God in our children are also the simplest things.” Therefore, when parents want to find the “silver bullet” to “fix” their children or family, the answer is often the most basic instruction: 1) Read the Bible with your children, 2) Pray with your children, 3) Regularly attend the local worship gathering with your children.
Pastor Terry Johnson writes, “By returning to the practices of previous generations we may be able to revitalize the family and the church of today.” The practices Johnson calls for are Sunday worship, family worship, and catechizing (teaching) children. In each case, Johnson echoes Duncan’s call not for the “new and improved” but for the regular, ordinary, and consistent practices to which Christians through the ages have turned.
Johnson affirms that children especially need consistent examples of godly living, not “hilltop” experiences. He writes, “The first and primary key to your family’s spiritual health is a commitment to the weekly public worship service of the church.” While some may buck against such a statement, Johnson affirms that regularly gathering with the corporate church, in the family pew, Bible in hand, hymnal open, all while children are watching and learning is one of the most powerful spiritual lessons they will ever learn.
In the gathered worship of the church, the family comes together to be in the very presence of God, to offer humble praise and adoration, to be instructed by God’s Word, to call out to God in prayer, and to have communion with God through the elements of the Lord’s Supper. Each of these ordinary means of grace are beneficial for the whole family and become the way in which God works in the hearts of His people through this special contact. Duncan and Johnson state, “That contact, over the long-haul, will change us. It will make us into the kind of people who are able to solve our own problems with the strength that the gospel provides.”
Don’t get distracted by the world. Don’t take the chance of having others be the primary teachers of your children. God has given them to you! You must love them, care for them, and show them Christ. So spend some time with your kids in prayer and in God’s word. If you’ve never done it before, give it a try. You only have more to gain. Your kids are worth it!