I remember the moment when, as a young father, I awoke in the middle of the night and realized, my little girl is completely dependent on me to provide for her needs. At the time, I was 24 years old and barely getting by paying bills and learning about life.
My anxiety grew with another thought: She is an eternal soul who must come to know God to know everlasting life. Am I up for this? What have I done?
That is the ultimate question for all parents. Our children have eternal souls in need of salvation, and we have a significant role in ensuring they know and love God. Many parents clearly grasp this reality.
But many other parents don't seem to understand the eternal questions regarding their children. Their actions are passive and distracted. They cannot articulate how or what they are doing to ensure their children know God. They abdicate responsibility for spiritual training to their church (as though an hour a week in Sunday school will do the trick). In short, they lack a vision for their children and have failed to prepare them for the future.
Parents must establish a vision for their children. When children are adults, who will they be? Will they serve God? Will they have the capacity to love others? Will they be equipped to pass on a spiritual legacy?
There was a time when parents understood the stakes. They knew they were establishing a legacy of faith that would live for generations, eventually encompassing thousands of people in their family tree. Today, I fear we've lost the perspective of time and tend to view our lives only in terms of our immediate family and personal ambitions.
Perhaps that's why we have an epidemic of divorce, fathers abandoning their families and parents who prioritize only those things that offer their children a competitive advantage in life. Here's my challenge to parents: Teach your children the laws of God as commanded in Deuteronomy. Train them as instructed in Proverbs. Lead them to fulfill God's Commandments; call them to the Great Commission.
To do so, first capture a Godly vision for your family then aggressively pursue His call on your lives.
Where to start:
When properly applied, loving discipline works! It stimulates tender affection, made possible by mutual respect between a parent and a child. It bridges the gap which otherwise separates family members who should love and trust each other. It allows the God of our ancestors to be introduced to our children. It permits teachers to do the kind of job in classrooms for which they are commissioned. It encourages a child to respect other people and live as a responsible, constructive citizen.