Sometimes when it’s been one of those days–you know the kind I’m talking about–it’s just easier (and definitely more peaceful) to have technology babysit my kids. Cell phones, tablets, internet TV and gaming systems are available all over our homes and on the go for our utmost convenience and entertainment. What did our parents do without this stuff?! It’s not like they could tote around our giant VHS Disney movies and pop them in wherever we went to make things easy. We have so much at our fingertips within seconds….it’s amazing but its also scary! What is that teaching our children? And who is teaching our children through these portals if we aren’t doing it directly ourselves? We have young hearts and young minds being shaped constantly and it’s important we are careful and intentional how we allow this to happen. We must regularly turn off the the noise and create an environment for listening and having conversations about things that really matter. About Jesus and what living a life for Him looks like.
Adrian Rogers said it like this,
“Your faith is to go from YOU to your children. It is primarily YOUR job.”
Not a TV show. Not an App. Not their teachers at school. Not their friends. Not even the child’s leaders in your church. It’s YOU! It starts with the family in the home.
Recently, in normal Sunday morning fashion, I was rushing to get everyone breakfast, get myself ready and my boys ready. It never fails, the day I’m going to worship the Lord with others and trying to teach our kids the importance of this, is the day of the week that the momma stress monster comes out! This Sunday was no different. With a last minute potty accident to clean up, wrinkles to spray out, (who has time to iron on Sunday?!) and shoes to tie, we finally are out the door just in time to not be “officially” late. Only then to be met on the road by traffic from a minor wreck…so forget being on time now! Stress overcame me. I was being short with my kids and I needed to calm down and breath. So, I reached for my phone to play a show for the kids so I could gather myself. That’s when my oldest son Jake (he’s 6yrs. old) decided he wanted to have a conversation. It always happens like this…when we are stressed to the max, super busy or so tired we can barely keep our eyes open putting them to bed…that’s when they want to talk. Am I right? It would be easy to stick technology in front of them for a quick and easy distraction in any of these situations, but we lose those precious moments God has given us to shape our children and usually ourselves as well.
Jake asked me in this particular moment, “Mom everyone that goes to our church is going to Heaven, right?” Now for 6 year old new believer, that’s a great question…some adults may even still have the same question. With the recent passing of Kobe Bryant, Jake has been asking a lot of questions about eternity, not about his uncertainty, but out of concern for others. The Spirit has clearly placed a burden on his heart, and he has been thinking about this question long before he spoke it.
I soften. Apologize to the Lord. What if I had missed this moment? What if I had put technology in front of him before he decided to ask this question on his heart or gave him a short answer and handed him my phone to watch a show as I had initially intended? I’m thanking the Lord that I didn’t. We aren’t perfect as moms, and I get it wrong a lot. I pray all the time that I would be quick to ask for forgiveness from the Lord and my children where I get it wrong, and that I would recognize and soak up the teaching moments that the Lord gives me to have these conversations with my kids.
I went on to tell Jake that not everyone in our church would go to heaven, although I wished that were true. I explained to him, just as he already knew, that we need a relationship with Jesus and simply going to church or being a good person doesn’t make you a Christian. I told him even though he had asked Jesus into his heart already, a lot of people in the church grow up never understanding this…so it’s our job to tell our friends, family and people we may not know yet their need for a relationship with Jesus.
I like to try and give my kids a Bible story or creative example so they can really connect the dots with their questions. So in this case, Jake had been asking about Kobe Bryant and now church people and is an overall sports lover, so I took a sports approach to explaining this. I told him that going to church without a relationship with Jesus was like showing up to a baseball game without ever practicing. It’s all about the daily practice and hard work that makes you successful playing and understanding the game. How would you know the rules or what position to play? How would you work well with a team and coach that didn’t know you? You might as well be a bystander fan in the stands without practice and relationships with the coach and teammates.
I told him church doesn’t save you, a relationship with Christ does. You need to know the Bible for yourself. You need to put in the “practice” time studying and praying during the week to be ready for the “game” that is worshipping with others at church or sharing your faith. You need to know your spiritual gifts which is your “position” and know the people surrounding you at church to hold you accountable who are your “teammates.” You need to be ready to put into practice what God is teaching you and assigning you as your “coach.” Unfortunately there are a lot of people who show up to the church “game” as “fans.” I even told him mommy and many others who have relationships with Jesus in the church are often guilty of showing up some weeks wanting to “play in the game,” but we haven’t put in the time with Jesus that week, so we can miss opportunities of ways He wants to use us and end up “sitting the bench.”
Clearly I have boys! And they are obsessed with sports. This example was taylor made for them to understand. You know your kids better than anyone. Don’t miss these moments to turn off the noise and listen. Be creative in helping your kids understand these big questions that will go on to shape their minds and their hearts.
Lastly, if we don’t help shape them someone else will answer those questions for them and shape their worldview, whether its someone at school or something they watch, etc. So WHEN you get stressed and WHEN you get tired, just remember your biggest job…
“Your faith is to go from YOU to your children. It is primarily YOUR job.”
It’s them. Our kids. They are our legacy. They are the tiny humans now that will grow up to be men and women who will give their lives to something. Let it be Jesus. We must start early. We must pray for them continually. We must be quick to admit when we get it wrong. We must regularly turn off the technology and the noise and create an environment for listening to have these precious conversations. We must be the ones who help shape their hearts and minds by pouring Jesus and Bible stories into them now, so when they leave our home one day and the noise of the world gets louder and louder, that they would have God-given wisdom and remember their roots from the conversations we are having with them right now. That they would stand boldly for Jesus as a bright light in a dark world and passionately tell others about him as they continue our legacy that would ultimately honor God and point others to Him.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6