GUEST POST by Gregg Farah serves as a teaching pastor and the student ministry pastor at Shelter Rock Church on Long Island. He and his wife, Janine have been married for 20+ years and are the parents of three amazing daughters. Gregg says besides hanging out and laughing with his family, he enjoys writing, pursuring the perfect pizza slice, cheering for the Mets, and playing sports. Gregg is trying something risky–click here to get involved.
Developing a spiritual growth plan for families is tough. Face it: being married and/or being a parent has enough challenges. And you want to add a spiritual growth component? What’s next: faithfulness in marriage, remembering your anniversary, and putting the toilet seat down?
Before things get out of control, let me assure you that this can be done. It is possible to lead your family spiritually and live to tell about it. But it’s not easy!.
Whether parents choose to ignore this or not, the Bible is clear regarding whose responsibility it is to spiritually nurture a child.
5 “And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. 6 And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. 7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. 8 Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:5-9, NIV).
The Bible instructs parents to disciple their children, yet many expect the church to do so, primarily for three seemingly overwhelming challenges. The good news is that the challenges can be overcome.
We’re Too Busy
Time challenges everyone…in every stage of life…in every profession…every day. We don’t have enough of it…or it at least feels that way. While time management gurus would likely dispute the notion that time is limited, let’s agree with the perception and respond to it.
Solution: Start doing something. Any small step is better than no step. I’ve found that it’s best to connect new commitments to old habits. For example, if you have a hard time remembering to pray for your kids, commit to pray for them when you get out of bed in the morning and when you go to bed at night. Try to learn a Bible verse as a family by reviewing it while brushing your teeth. Place an index card with the verse next to your toothbrush or tape it to the bathroom mirror. While you’re in the bathroom, keep a short devotional book nearby. Make it a habit of asking “what did you learn about God” anytime someone is in the bathroom for an…ahem…extended time.
I’m Too Intimidated
This challenge is understandable. Since parents are viewed as the experts in life (at least until their kids are teens), we can be easily intimidated that we don’t have enough knowledge to lead our child spiritually. The good news is that this is the easiest obstacle to overcome, but it comes with a price: pride.
Solution: Whether you’re intimidated or not, we should all approach discipleship with great humility. Discipleship is not about knowledge; it’s about obedience. And if you’re insecure in your Bible IQ, be honest with your kids about that. Let them know you love Jesus and want to grow in your relationship with Him, but that you’re still learning. Encourage your kids to ask you any question, but remind them you’ll likely need to talk to a friend or pastor or research the answer on your own. Kids appreciate honesty. They already know you don’t know much anyway.
It’s Too Much Work
When I’ve heard parents say this, they’re really saying their kids are not interested. Despite a parent’s bet efforts, it’s quite possible kids will not respond the way we’d hoped.
Solution: Don’t give in! You can’t make your child love Jesus, so don’t worry about that. It’s not your job to make your kids obey or follow God, but it is your job to feed them spiritually. Kids may tune us out, but it doesn’t mean they’re not listening. Granted, you might have to establish ground rules, like no texting while you’re trying to have a spiritual conversation, but don’t be defeated by a blank stare. Smile right back at it and show Christ’s love…even when you might not feel it.
Clearly, the above challenges don’t even begin to scratch the surface. Developing spiritually mature kids is not easy. The quicker we understand that, the more we can live a guilt-free life. Parenting is not a part-time activity, so if you’ve blown it in the past go ahead and start over. You’re allowed. You’re the parent.