As a new parent, I was overwhelmed when I read this passage from the Bible:
Deuteronomy 11:18-20 (ESV): “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
I was overwhelmed because I felt the Bible expected more from me than I could possibly do. How will I be able to devote so much time to teach my child about God? What age-appropriate words and teaching methods should I employ? Which books should I follow? What resources do I need to equip myself?
I was burdened by a mountain of questions. I was insecure in my qualifications to educate my child to follow God. In this day and age where there is no dearth of Christian music and literature and church programs for children, I was afraid of making the wrong choices.
In my seven years of being a parent, I’ve learnt that I cannot give my child what I don’t have. If I’m running empty, I cannot fill up my child’s cup. God’s command was first directed toward the parents’ own spiritual lives in Deuteronomy 11:18-20. The instructions for parents are to soak themselves first in God’s Word before they attempt to saturate their children with His precepts. God’s words are to seep into our minds, rule over our hearts and govern our lives. Love for God and His Word must permeate every area of our lives.
Then, discipling our children will come naturally to us. Training our children in godliness will not seem like a tedious assignment, another activity that needs to be added to the crowded family calendar. Talking to our children about God will be part of our everyday conversations. Breaking into a spontaneous song of praise will be commonplace. Engaging in meaningful discussions about God will not require extra effort. Every situation, circumstance and problem will become an opportunity to impress upon our children’s hearts truths about God.
Make no mistake. Our children pay attention to our words: How much and how often do we count our blessings and give gratitude and glory to God? Do our children hear us sincerely asking God for forgiveness of sins? Do they hear us praising God when something beautiful in nature captures our attention? Do they hear us asking God for help in times of need? What words escape our lips in prayer when tragedy strikes our family or community? Genuine faith does not escape our children’s radar. Seeing their parents seek and love God with all their hearts causes children to accept and even seek godly instruction.
Raising up godly children is neither a burden nor an added responsibility. For Christian parents who are passionate about their faith, discipling children is an act of service and love to God that comes effortlessly and instinctively.