It’s been a long time since I was a new dad. I remember it well. At least I think I do, because all I remember is how awesome it was to have the job of raising our two boys. I love the life I have now, but I would go back to 1982 in a heartbeat and start it all over again.
I was not a perfect parent. There are things I would do differently…mistakes I made and decisions I would change. I know there’s no guarantee the results wouldn’t turn out the same. I just know I could have done some things better.
But there is one thing I wouldn’t change.
Nothing was ever more important to me than my boy’s spiritual life.
Not their education. Not their personal happiness. Not their success. Not their health. Not their future careers. Not their self-esteem.
Nope. More than anything else, I wanted them to know the world didn’t revolve around them. Life was not about their wants…their desires…their plans…or their dreams. Loving God and loving others was not a church “catch phrase” in the Farra household. It was the reality of our lives together.
The Bible was not a Sunday book or a lesson manuscript. It was the playbook for how we lived our lives. We took the words and lifestyle of Jesus seriously. It was never perfect. Our family definitely marched to a drumbeat that most of our friends couldn’t hear… and all four of us march with our own unique spiritual cadence. We always have and always will.
But all of it has been shaped by the umbrella of God’s word and God’s priorities that we lived under…especially when our boys were young.
I used to offer quite a bit of advice to parents a while back. I don’t do it much anymore, though, unless I’m asked. I guess I’ve come to realize most parents don’t want advice. Most of them don’t think they need any. (Funny. They are usually pretty quick to ask for help when their kid starts to go south, though…go figure.)
And frankly, what makes someone qualified to give advice, anyway? Nevertheless, I’ll offer a nugget or two, to any of you parents that are listening…
If you are not giving your kid (especially your young adolescents) every opportunity possible to develop their spiritual life, you’re making a mistake. You cannot make your kid submit to the rule of Jesus. You cannot strong-arm your kid to take their spiritual life seriously. You cannot make your faith, their faith. But you can do much to put them in a position to own their choice. Failure to put them in that position is on you.
Spiritual development costs. It will cost time. It will cost money. It will cost effort. It will cost the loss of “good things”, in order to make room for the “best things”. Are you willing to make that sacrifice for them?
Your kids will learn more about following Jesus from watching you, than anyone else. Either good or bad. Do you want your kids to grow up with shallow spiritual lives? Live that way. Do you want your kids to grow up pursuing pleasure and living for themselves? Live with those priorities. Do you want them to be a Sunday church attender? Model part-time kingdom living for them.
Or you can get your spiritual act together and show them the way…in word…in action…in priorities…in difficult decisions…in how you treat your enemies…in what you do with the Bible the other six days of the week.
Want some help as a parent? All you gotta do is ask!