We live in an unengaged parenting culture. Kids today are often viewed as an inconvenience and nuisance rather than a blessing and responsibility. For these reasons parents often desire to pass the buck in various aspects of their child’s development. They send their kids to school to learn and if they are struggling they hire a tutor. If their kids want to play a sport they drop them off at practice and if they struggle they hire a personal trainer for private sessions. Don’t misunderstand me- these examples are not necessarily bad in and of themselves. The reason I bring them up is that they point towards how our culture responds to training our children. We would rather hire “professionals” than labor to train our kids ourselves. In many homes long past is the day where the mom and dad spent hours around the dinner table helping their struggling child with his/her homework. In many homes no longer will the dad spend hours teaching his son how to dribble a basketball or throw a spiral football. Unfortunately, in a very similar way many Christians have passed the buck of their children’s discipleship to the “professionals.”
In the first blog post we discussed how it is crucial that parents love God first. If we are to disciple our children we must first be disciples ourselves. As we continue to reflect on the implications of Deut. 6:4-9 we will look at the parent’s responsibility in discipleship. Let us again look at God’s words for us,
4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (ESV)
Having understood the foundation of verses 4-6 and the necessary pre-qualification of loving God first, we turn to verses 7-9. In these verses we will see a command and an application. In this blog we will focus on the command and in the next we will look at the application. Specifically, this blog will focus on the specific statement in verse 7, “You shall teach them diligently to your children.” One of my greatest concerns for the Church today is our rejection of this command. Many Christian homes have all but relinquished the responsibility to diligently teach their children the words and commands of God. Many well intentioned Christian parents have delegated this responsibility to the, “professionals.” They view their role as Christian parents as dropping their kid off at Children’s Church, Youth Group or some other Christian after-school program.
Being the Children and Family pastor, one of my primary responsibilities is Children’s Church. I certainly believe it is an important component of discipleship for the children in our church. I believe that children should hear the truths of God reinforced by other members of the body of Christ with their peers. I am certainly not against specific ministries targeted at discipling children and youth. These ministries are not God’s primary means to disciple our kids, though. Parents are God’s primary means for our kid’s discipleship. We see no Biblical example of Children’s Church or Youth Group yet time and time again the Bible exhorts parents to train their kids.
I remember talking with a parent at the first church I worked for who’s adult child was not following the Lord. Through tears she said she didn’t understand why they weren’t following God. She told me that they had never missed Sunday School and as a teenager was always forced to go to Youth Group. Concerned, I asked her how they had gone about discipling their child, trying to better understand. She looked at me confused and repeated that they never missed church. I am certainly not blaming her for her child not following the Lord, for salvation belongs to the Lord. This story, however, illustrates the misconception of many Christian parents. Obedience to God’s call in raising our children in the Lord is not something we can pass off to professionals. Parents, it’s your job to disciple your children. It’s your responsibility to teach the word of God to your children. God expects our obedience in training our kids. Please note that this is not some passive request, we are called to do this, “diligently!” I understand this is countercultural, but the culture clearly isn’t working out. Parents- let us be faithful to the calling of God in raising our kids. Let us teach them diligently.
In the next and final blog, we will look practically at how parents are to diligently teach their children. God’s word does not leave us to our own devices; rather we see clear instruction as how to disciple our children. We must love God first and we must take responsibility for our kids. We cannot simply hire professionals; our kids need us.