Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.Proverbs 22:6
It’s not a promise, but a principal to practice. This unsuspected picture shines a light for me on the impact our practices in life have on our kids. Good or bad, they notice and imitate. My 2 year old daughter sat at my feet, took my hand, and bowed her little head while we prayed in our Life Group.
I didn’t have to sit her down and explain what prayer was or how we do it. She is learning by observation and experience. It’s the same way she knows what a Bible is from other books, and that Jesus is in the Bible.
As parents, we lay a foundation for our kids through what we say and do. If foul language is commonplace in my personal life, I can’t be surprised when my kids think it’s acceptable for them to use it. If I prioritize my social life over my faith, I shouldn’t be surprised when my kids put youth group and church on the back-burner in their personal life. What I demonstrate with my own life will eventually surface in the lives of my kids as they grow up.
The question as a parent is not will what I say and do take hold in their life.
The question as a parent I have to constantly evaluate is, what do I want to take hold in their life.
I want my kids to understand the importance of a well-grounded faith, and obedience to God’s calling. I want them to have a devotional life that is genuine, born out of a love for Jesus, not just to check boxes. I want my daughters to know and believe that God loves them and has a purpose for their life. I want my son to know God has called him to be a leader in a dark world. I want my kids to lean and press into Jesus when they struggle because they know He is faithful. I want Jesus to be the first one they turn to when they celebrate and mourn.
I want them to have a love for Jesus that is deeper than my own.
But I can’t expect something I don’t model and live out in my own life. It starts with me practicing my own faith in a practical way that they can see. But it’s also holding them accountable to grow in their own faith as they grow older. Encouraging them to pray, to read Scripture and journal about how and what God is speaking to them through a passage. Teaching them songs when they are little that emphasize who Jesus is and what He has and can do.
To train someone you first have to be doing whatever it is you are training them in. That means I can’t be an un-present dad, who is more concerned with myself then the needs and wellbeing of my kids. I have to lead by example.
Training up my children starts with me.