When is the last time you have walked with your child? Deuteronomy 6:1-9 teaches us the importance of impressing our beliefs and convictions into our children.
I was walking in a corn field with my five year old daughter about a week ago. It was getting dark outside and she noticed something that I often take for granted: a star. She said, “Daddy, do you see the first start out tonight?” I told her that I did see it and then I told her, “God made that star and He made all of the stars.” She said right back to me, “I know, and He counts the stars too!” My heart swelled up with the knowledge that she is “getting it.” She is starting to understand the story of God and His great love for her. Something profoundly deep happened that night as we were walking through that field. My daughter grasped a truth that will serve her well in her future as an adult. The power is not just about knowing that verse, but as she gets older, her belief system will acknowledge that God can count the stars because He made them. And He is able to count them because He knows all things. And if God knows all things, that means that He knows about her and will take care of her and He will be her personal friend because He can know her. Now that is a biblical conviction that can only be found in God’s words! Do you see how important it is to impress biblical truth into a child’s life at a young age? They will not forget those things and it will shape who they are and it will shape their purpose in this life.
When your child is 5, it is easy to speak into his or her life. They listen to you. You are everything to them. You are perfect. But once a child gets older and approaches the teenage years, something seems to change. As a parent, you try to speak truth into your child’s life, but you feel as if you are speaking to a brick wall. You feel frustrated. Your ability to teach them is over, you conclude. This can sometimes last until they are around age 20, and then they start to realize that their parents are not idiots. During their fragile teen years, you want them to confide in you. You want them to listen to your counsel. I would like to address this to both groups of people: the parents and the children.
First, I would like to address those who are in the pre-teen and teen category. If you have a hard time listening to your parents, it benefits you to realize that your parents love you more than anything on this planet and that they truly want you to succeed in life (I know that some parents are not good parents; but that is the exception). When you are a teenager, you need people speaking truth into your life. You are forming your convictions. You need your parents. Fight against an “angst” inside of you that wants to prevent the words of your parents from penetrating into your soul. A teenager who discovers that his or her parents are an almost unlimited resource of knowledge and experience will find themselves ahead of most people their age. Yes, you can learn much from your parents. Try to see them as intelligent guides trying to give you the best high school experience ever!
Now, I would like to address the parents. Make sure you see what a privilege it is to speak into your child’s life. Don’t mess it up by tearing them down or always scolding them about something. Pray for God to give you the wisdom you need to speak into their life. When your children stop listening to you verbally, it might be time to show them your convictions in a nonverbal way. If you are just going through the motions of your faith, then your child’s faith will not stick. You want the child himself to develop spiritual habits, like regular prayer and Scripture reading. Children, at all ages, observe their parents’ lives and will pick up the practices they regularly see their parents engage in. One of the most powerful pictures I have of my dad is waking up almost every morning and I would see him sitting at his desk reading his Bible or praying. The convictions that you will pass down to your children must be lived out by you. They are powerless unless you own them.
Whether you have young children (0-10) who are somewhat easy to teach, or you have a teenager who is unreasonably stubborn, we are still called to walk with them. It is never too late to make a difference in their life while they are still “under your roof.” What will you do today to walk with your child?
To hear more about this and other ways be a light in your home, click this link to my sermon Being the Light…In Your Home.