In a recent sermon I pointed out the results of yet another study that affirmed the crucial (which comes from the Latin word for “cross”) role that parents play in the spiritual development of their children. This appeared in the Oxford Journal:
I can bombard you with more studies and statistics that reinforce that point, including the critical (which comes from the Latin word for “decisive”) part that fathers especially have in setting the example in faith. Simply put, men, it means that if you abandon your God-given responsibility to raise your kids as Christians to their mother, they will follow you, not her – no matter how faithful she may be.
If both parents follow Jesus, the kids follow Jesus, roughly 90+% of the time. If only the mother follows Jesus, that number drops to below 20%. If they’re not following Jesus, who do you think they are following? And where do you think they will end up? You already know those answers, because you and I have already walked in those shoes ourselves.
God’s expectations of parents – especially fathers – are incredibly high. He has loaned you His precious child, on one condition: He wants her back. If you decide to give up and roll over, you do so at the expense of your own child. If you will not or cannot even try to bring Jesus into your child’s life and keep Him there, you shouldn’t be a parent. You should have kept the gun in its holster.
But here you are, and here they are, and here He is. God knows full well that you are going to make mistakes, some of them big ones. He knows that the fallout from your sins will spill over into the lives of your kids. He knows your whole history, and He also knows that if your children ever knew your whole history your days as role model would be over.
And yet, He’s still here. He’s still calling you to a life better than the one behind you, and to a purpose greater than just yourself. He keeps pouring power and love into you, because He knows far better than any of us not only how much we need it, but how much our kids need to get it from us. Or rather, through us – from Him.
He forgives you for being so much like you. He also challenges you to become more like Him. You can’t do that. Not on your own. He has ways to empty your garbage and fill your tank. He has an unlimited supply of relief and restoration. You have His Word on it.
Now’s the time for you to excuse the excuses and re-engage the mission He’s set before you. You have lives all around you starting to overfill the dumpster and run low on fuel. You know how to help them, show them, inspire them, lead them onto a better path, into a better life.
Start with Word and prayer. Every day. It’s like the pre-flight instructions on the plane: you have to secure your own mask before you can help others. Listen to God. Talk to God. Repeat. Remember: your kids are watching, and listening.
Then He will give you courage and opportunity to include the ones you love the most in this life in Jesus that matters the most. I said in that sermon that Deuteronomy 6 and Ephesians 6 are really saying the same thing, just 1500 years apart. Look them up. Listen to what He’s saying to you. Ask Him for the words and the love to use them, and then bless your children with them by not just saying them, but by living them out.
You can come back to Jesus in those crucial moments and critical situations, knowing that He’s always right there the whole time. He’s also right there for your children. In a way, you are Jesus to them. And the day will come when they will be Jesus to you.
You are the only sermon your kid ever really needs.