Be What You Hope They Become
This story first appeared in the December 2015 issue of HomeFront magazine. Used by permission of HomeFrontmag.com:
I’d like to offer one of the most powerful parenting principles out there: Be the lover of Jesus you hope your child will become.
As with most of life’s best practices, this idea is not profound and it is definitely not novel. It’s basic. It’s Parenting 101 stuff. But, oftentimes the lessons we need to hear the most are the ones we are good at ignoring. Sometimes we have the hardest time seeing what’s right in front of us (like our noses).
In order to keep this from being just a vague proverb, allow me to ask a few short questions that may help you think more deeply about what your kids may be seeing from you.
What do I celebrate at home? C. J. Mahaney once wrote, “Our children will pursue what we applaud. They will emulate what we celebrate.” What is celebrated most in your home? Grades? Sports? Or the things of God’s grace?
What do my kids hear me talk about? As Jesus said, “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:45). Even if your kids haven’t read that from their Bibles, they know it intuitively. Our mouths reveal our hearts. What are your kids hearing?
How do I deal with hard situations? When things get difficult, we run to what we trust the most. When hardship, sickness, or tragedy befalls your family, where do you run? What is that teaching your child?
What do I give my time to? Not only do our mouths reveal our hearts, our calendars do too. We give time to the things we value the most. What does you calendar teach your child about what you deem to be important? Among the many important things you do, what does your calendar show to be the most important?
Am I in God’s Word? Watching my wife enjoy chocolate always make me want some. All she has to do is savor it and I find myself wanting to enjoy what she is having. In a similar way, our children will desire what we savor; they’ll want what we enjoy. Therefore, may we savor God’s Word like we hope they will. When they pick our Bibles up, may they see them well-worn. If they open our Bibles up, may they see their tissue-like pages covered in highlights, underlines, and notes. When they walk around the house, may they catch us pouring over that Glorious Book. May our savoring of God’s Word create a longing for it in the hearts of our children.
Remember, we cannot expect our children to become people we ourselves are not. However, as many of us ask these questions, guilt may rise up in our souls. But take heart, I have good news. Jesus has died for all our sins, including our parenting sins. So if these questions came with a sting, let that send you to Jesus for the grace your heart needs and from there be instructed by Him to be the Christian you hope your child will become.
by Dana Dill
Dana is the youth pastor at South Shores Church in Dana Point and a writer for the TruIdentity student curriculum. He is husband to his beautiful wife, Chawna, and daddy to his precious six-month-old daughter, Daisy.