Parents, can we have a moment of clear-headed, brutal honesty?
Followers of Jesus follow Jesus. This is discipleship. When Christ commands us in Matt 28:19-20 to “go make disciples”, he is commanding us to lead people to Jesus and then lead them in how to follow Jesus. Watch me as I watch Jesus. Imitate me as I imitate Jesus (1 Cor. 11:1). For parents: obey me as I obey Jesus. Follow me as I follow Jesus. So, where are you leading your family? What a sobering question!
How do you know where you’re leading? By looking at where you’ve been, where you’re at, and where you’re going. What does your money go to? Where is your time spent?
What is optional in your home? School? Homework? Practice for the sports team? Obedience to you as parents? If you’re like most families, none of these items just listed are optional. We don’t allow our kids to pick and choose what days they want to go to school or practice. We don’t allow them to pick and choose which family rules they want to follow. Why? Because we want to see them succeed in all these areas. We want them to grow into smart, healthy, respectful adults.
Imagine if we allowed our kids to choose when they wanted to go to school or do their homework. Imagine if we also allowed their feelings to choose when they cleaned their room or went to practice. We’d have undisciplined 15 year olds probably stuck in the 3rd grade with rooms that reflected their lifestyle - messy wrecks. Why? Because children/teenagers need special direction, oversight, and parental accountability. You know this.
But if we’re honest, this is precisely the description of some of our children’s spiritual lives - lazy, unhealthy and undisciplined. It’s peculiar to me that one of the only areas some parents allow their children to pick and choose levels of involvement in is their spiritual lives.
Without fail, the top two responses from parents that I receive after asking about their children who’ve not been around lately are: 1) “They just don’t have any friends”; 2) “I don’t want to force them to come because they’ll end up resenting it”.
Oh that the Word of the Lord would fall on these parents’ ears like a firm massage to tense, tired muscles. The Bible is clear that we are to teach the Lord’s commands to our children diligently (Deut. 6:7). The Bible is clear that we are to make disciples of ALL nations - surely the first nation you’d start with is in your home! (Matt. 28:19-20). The Bible is clear that we not neglect to meet together as a church family (Heb. 12:25).
It is interesting how often we pick and choose which biblical mandates we want to obey. The ones that require discipline are always the first to go because they require training and sacrifice. Our sinful natures simply don’t like sacrifice. Some parents seem to want their children to become godly without ever modeling and instilling godliness. That’s borderline insanity. Pro baseball players don’t get to the MLB because their parents wished them there. Their parents took them to the ball field. They paid for team involvement, tournaments, lessons and equipment. They coached and encouraged them in their goals. That’s a lot of sacrifice!
We communicate to our kids what matters the most in life by what we sacrifice for the most.
If you are letting your children dictate their involvement in church and they are choosing NOT to attend, you can rest assured that they will make the same exact choice when they leave your nest.
I’ve never heard of a young adult or college student who resented their parents for the years they brought them to church against their desires. I HAVE heard plenty of stories of kids/teens who were pushed away by hurtful experiences.
Seriously, think about this wager: If you allow your child to dictate their attendance and they choose to stay away from the church, you might gain their friendship in the present, but you are immensely debilitating their potential for spiritual birth/growth both now and possibly for their lifetime. However, if you push your child to Christ’s Bride and teach them not to forsake regularly gathering as a Body, you might be losing friend points, but you’re gaining two infinitely more important things: 1) God’s pleasure and honor; 2) the increased possibility that your child meets and grows in Jesus and in fellowship with other believers.
I pray that the reward of God’s pleasure and honor with the potential for godly growth in your children is more desirable than avoiding confrontation at the expense of your child’s comfort. Parents, lets partner together, as God commanded, to plant seeds within your children, to water those seeds, and to pray for God to do what only He can do - provide the growth (1 Cor. 3:6).
Published on Sunday, January 8, 2017 @ 5:25 PM CDT