This week I was asked the question in a staff meeting, “What is the most important thing that we can pass on to our kids?” As others answered first, they said the two things that first came to my mind—love and grace. As I continued to think about it I realized that the most important thing to me is that my children know Jesus. Not that they would just know about Him, or just about His love and grace. But that they actually know the man Jesus, experience His grace, and live in His love.
In the same day, my wife and I were discussing our children and how we felt about treating our children in different situations. Eventually, we started talking about what we would do if our kids were ever sick and missed school. We both agreed that if our kids are ever sick and miss school they would also miss any other activities going on that day. We decided the same thing goes for church on Sunday mornings (if they miss church there will be no activities that day).
As Anna and I were talking about this we began to talk about how our parenting style is not just keeping them—and others—safe and healthy, but teaching them priorities in life. When we tell our kids that if they miss school they miss other activities it is telling them that school is more important. If we were to keep our daughter home from school then let her got to soccer practice it indirectly tells her that we value her being involved in activities more than school. As she gets older and that trend continues it is going to tell her that play is more important that work.
I see this in the church. All the time, I hear parents who say that their faith is the most important thing in their family and that they want their kids to grow up in Christ (That is awesome! I agree wholeheartedly with that desire.). Unfortunately, more often than not, parent’s actions don’t reflect this desire because when their kid is involved in school and extra-curricular activities those things take priority over church. If practice is the same night as youth group 9 times out of 10 that kids is going to practice. So what does that say about our priorities? Why do we have a declining amount of teenagers who actively pursue the faith after the age of 18? Because, parents have taught them to put faith on the back burner, and to instead pursue the fun activities of life.
Parents, I don’t write this to condemn anyone or say that activities are bad but where does our loyalty and priority lie? Is it with the Lord, or with the world? I love that my daughter is involved in soccer and ballet, but if either of those activities starts to become the priority of her life then its my job to protect her heart and her priorities. God made me her father so that I would protect her from the world and keep her eyes on Christ. I only get twenty years at best to lead and guide her into the Truth and to help her learn to love God and what He loves. If I let her skip out on church, and the things that will grow her faith, then I am letting her fail eternally.
Parenting is tough. I am twenty-three years old and I have a four year old and one on the way, I am new to this but I can tell you even now it is hard because I have to choose to love my daughter rather than make her like me. I am passionate about youth and I am passionate about parents. I am passionate about seeing both pursue God. Lets help the next generation say yes to Jesus before all other things.