Anyone who’s been a parent for longer than a week knows that parenting can be hard work! Most of us understand the significance of parenting, but many of us don’t really have a framework that helps us know how to parent successfully, and especially how to pass on our faith to our kids (without abdicating that responsibility to the church).
Fortunately, scripture provides an answer. It’s not be a magical “formula for success” . . . it’s even better. It’s a Biblical framework that provides the most solid foundation – a primer – for successful parenting and faith development in our kids.
It’s found in Deuteronomy 6:4 – 9. This passage is actually written to the nation of Israel, but directly applies to all parents. Here’s what it says:
“4 Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. 5 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. 6 And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. 7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. 8 Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
It’s a familiar passage, and one that’s become increasingly popular in ministry circles as the church wrestles with how to equip parents. Unfortunately, most of our emphasis is put on verses 7 – 9 where it talks about making the passing on of our faith an everyday, conversational approach with our kids. That’s an important part of it, but this actually is a three-part instruction on how to raise kids.The framework looks like this:
1. Love God with everything we are.
Raising kids who love God begins with loving God ourselves. If we don’t, they probably won’t either, no matter how much we talk about it. And this isn’t just a cursory ascent that we love God. This is loving God with everything we are – “all your heart, all your soul, and ll your strength.”
Are we doing that? If not, that might be part of our parenting challenge.
2. Commit to obeying God’s Word.
The natural outflow of deciding to love God with everything we are is obeying Him, as He has communicated through His Word. That means we need to be in the Word, daily. It means we need to seek understanding of His Word. And it means we need to be applying God’s Word on a moment by moment basis, in our own lives.
Have we gotten to the parenting part yet? Yes, actually, we have, because if we aren’t practicing these first two-thirds of the framework, then good luck being successful on the third part (what we typically define as the “parenting” part of this passage)!
3. Pass on our faith as a natural part of everything we do.
In other words, we shouldn’t separate the sacred and the secular. Our faith – and passing on our faith – should be part of everything we do. Daily activities become spiritual conversation starters. Crisis becomes our demonstration of faith to our kids. Discipline becomes discipleship.
Initiate conversations about what faith looks like in action. Infuse our Biblical foundation of faith in all that we do and say – not in an overly spiritualizing manner, but in a natural way because it’s who we are. Let prayer be a natural next step when we have a need, and praise be an important part of our communication. Let scripture become the go-to source for answers. Let the Fruit of the Spirit be the natural manner in how we respond.
At home. Outside the home. In the morning. In the evening. As we drive to school or take a family hike. Let our love for God and our commitment to obey lead to natural demonstrations and conversations of faith at all times with our kids. As we practice this, it’s amazing how it leads us to better understand how to handle any and every parenting situation that arises. Does it means we’re going to have perfect kids and no challenges if we apply this framework? Of course not, but parenting within this framework sure does produce better results than the “figure it out as we go” method that so many of us employ, or trying to parent in our own wisdom and understanding.
Commit to obedience in our own life.
Parent with faith as a natural, everyday occurrence.
A Primer For Parenting