What do you watch on TV and on the Internet? It appears insignificant, but it is important because it influences how we might be leading our families.
The Lord says to us, “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:6-9 (NIV). This is speaking about leading our children spiritually.
One way we do this is by talking to them about spiritual things as part of everyday life. The unfortunate thing is that nowadays, children are leading adults. In some countries the rights of the parents are being deliberately nullified, and their children’s rights exalted.
Edward VIII, Duke of Windsor said, “The thing that impresses me most about America is the way the parents obey their children.”
Are we leading our children, or are our children leading us? If we parent by what the society dictates, we’re going to fall into that trap. Currently, many parents don’t discipline their children and even defend them in their wrongdoing. As parents we must lead them spiritually and set the tone as the divine authority in the household. If we’re going to be effective parent-leaders, we must lead intentionally.
We’re not going to get it right all the time, but we must endeavour to do our best. This includes establishing the values of our households. When we have Christian values, it’s going to be very counter-cultural and will affect them at school, for example. Part of our job is to help them manage the challenges that will arise because of that counter-cultural reality. We are to help them to understand that culture may go one way, but we don’t do things just because everyone else is doing it.
It’s not every movie or every party that they need to go to. Some of those things will corrupt what God is doing in their lives. Just because everyone else is doing something does not mean that it is the right standard for our family. We need to be less concerned about our children’s immediate happiness and more about their holiness and full pursuit of God in every way. The Bible calls it ‘training’.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV). The Hebrew word for train is the word, ‘chanak’, which means the palate of the mouth. In the Old Testament when an Israelite woman would have a baby, the Hebrew midwife would be there and would take her finger and would dip it into a paste and put the paste on the palate of the baby’s mouth, on the ‘chanak’. This would initiate a hunger so that the baby would nurse. Parents need to ‘chanak’ their children by training and initiating a craving for what is true, and right and pure and holy, and when the children see the fruit of that, they’ll see how godly living works.
We must create a learning atmosphere and use a variety of methods. We can use an allowance as an opportunity, for example, to explain the principle of tithing and encourage them to pay it. Follow up with them in the hope that they’ll see the goodness of God, and this might lead them on their own to tithe. We have to be intentional about how we parent.