Not too long ago I was a part of an online discussion about how to partner with parents when it comes to attending to the spiritual needs of their children. Parents need to have an active role, and in fact the lead role in the spiritual lives of their children. The church has a 40-50 hour a year influence on a child, but the parent has a 3000 hour influence on that same child.
Through the conversation there were several things mentioned that got me thinking. One of them is definition. “Parents need to be the spiritual leaders of their house” is a statement that many agree upon, but may not know what that means. I will attempt to explain my definition of the statement.
I believe that the role of a ‘spiritual leader’ is that of building the spiritual foundation of the child. Now just what exactly does that mean?
Consider a construction site. The foundation is the most important part of a building, because everything else rests on the foundation. A solid foundation means a strong sturdy building can stand . If you have a faulty foundation, the building will not stand near as strong or as long. Your child is the building, and the foundation is a faith in God.
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
That sounds good right? Well, the next step is to figure out what that way is. What way is a child to go?
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
There is a narrow path that only a few find. I pray that my daughter stays on that narrow path. It is my responsibility to teach her and train her, so that when she is faced with choices and confronted about her faith she will stand strong and stay on that narrow path. I am doing what I can to ensure she grows up knowing the truth about how much God loves her and has a plan for her life.
Laying a spiritual foundation means teaching and training our children the truth about God and his love for us. A spiritual foundation recognizes that Jesus died and rose again to provide a way for us to receive forgiveness and eternal life. A firm spiritual foundation knows that God cares and is something that can determine the life path a child takes.
A few weeks ago I had a chance to talk to a group of parents about how they can become the spiritual leaders in their own home. We did not focus much on the what (the spiritual foundation) but rather the how can they build a spiritual foundation.
In Deuteronomy 5 we read about Moses calling the Israelites together to read them the 10 commandments that God had just given to him.
Chapter 6 continues with verse 5
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
It is the next statement where we get the how:
These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
By the statement ‘your children’ I assume Moses is talking to parents. Parents are to impress these commands on their children. They are to talk about them. When you are walking, or when you are sitting. In the morning and at night. That is the how. It is easy. Talk to your kids about God’s commands. Talk to them about God’s love.
There are multiple ways we can accomplish the how.
- Family devotion time (read more about that here).
- Taking advantage of life’s circumstances. (read more about that here)
Remember, the how really isn’t the important point to focus on. The focus should be this: As a parent, are you doing all you can to build that spiritual foundation in the lives of your children?
What is your definition of ‘spiritual foundation’? What do you do to build that foundation in your children?
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