Day Six – Passing It On

The Bible is clear: God uses a parent’s faithfulness to shape children. We’re commanded to teach “diligently to your children…when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deuteronomy 6:7), and similarly in Deuteronomy 11:19 we’re instructed again: “You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

The “them” in the passages refers to God’s words. All of the places and times (rising, sitting, walking by the way, etc.) are the places and times of everyday life. We’re to be instructing our children in the daily-ness of life.

I must digress for a moment to say that I know there are those of you out there who have been faithful, yet have prodigals – children who have rejected your teaching and have walked away from the Lord. Please be encouraged. God WILL use your faithfulness. I don’t know if your prodigal will return. I do know that your testimony is on display. Perhaps He’ll use your faithfulness in that way. Perhaps that will be only the beginning. Your teaching isn’t lost on the prodigal heart. Those running from the Lord still remember your teaching. Please take comfort in that; continue in your faithfulness, praying for Francis Thompson’s ‘Hound of Heaven’ to pursue, for “As the hound follows the hare, never ceasing in its running, ever drawing nearer in the chase, with unhurrying and imperturbed pace, so does God follow the fleeing soul by His Divine grace.” (The Neumann Press Book of Verse, 1988).

Ahh…but back on point…it seems to me that the faithfulness of our teaching must not leave out God’s heart for the orphan, the widow, and the destitute. Could that not be that answer?! What if in a generation, there were three or four or ten times as many of us as orphan advocates? Would it not cause a swell in the church? God’s word is the deepest of wells, never being exhausted in its ability to teach us and help us grow. Here are just a few things in it that I think are critical to talk about as we “walk by the way”:

Wisdom and commitment. If we can help our children to choose wisely and choose for life, we are laying the foundation for strong families in the future. Strong, committed families are the kinds of families who offer themselves up to be used of God to make an orphan into a son or daughter. We must teach our children what to look for in a mate, and what it means to serve and lead a household. May I humbly submit to you that it’s NEVER too early to start this? My husband is such an example to me in this area. He began teaching our son at age two that people should only be kissing if they are engaged to be married, that when he is older he must look for a girl who loves the Lord, is respectful to her parents, and exercises self-control, and he just finished a little age-appropriate study with my son (now age 6) about how to treat “womans” (as my son calls us ladies). This was just a series of five and ten minute chats sharing scripture and what it means in this area.

Love for others. The sooner we teach our children that there are others in the world to serve and to help and that those others were made in the likeness and image of God and are therefore very significant, the sooner they will begin to let go of selfishness, pride, and entitlement. Now, please know that I am fully aware that this is a lifelong process! I would love to tell you that I don’t struggle with selfishness, pride, and entitlement. Wrong. I struggle with it daily. It is, however, much easier to heed the Lord’s conviction on my spirit in these areas when I’m aware and thinking of the needs of others. (Philippians 2:4)

To be doers of the word. Teaching our children to take action helps them practice what we’re sharing with them. They start to exercise their giving muscles, their capacity to love, and their ability to empathize. I don’t advocate creating a bunch of bleeding hearts. My experience has been that most often the bleeding heart us unengaged in logic, or is fully engaged in faulty logic. Rather, I’m advocating that we instill in our children the importance of looking up, looking around, and acting as the hands and feet of Jesus to an aching world. As “creation groans” (Romans 8), we can bring the soothing balm of Christ’s love and His gospel. (James 1:22)  

What would happen if we worked to be faithful in creating a generation of stable, committed families that sought to serve others and put their faith to action? How many desperately in need of a family could we embrace and enfold into our families?

Sound like a big task? Consider this: teaching our children the way God instructs us to doesn’t mean planning lectures to impart all of our wisdom and the mistakes we’ve made and the lessons we’ve learned. It’s quite the opposite. Teaching in the daily-ness of life – as we’re “walking by the way” – means a few minutes of conversation in the car, perhaps some pointed questions and guidance when our kids share something that happened on a given day. When you’re “lying down”? Pray for others with your children as you tuck them in, and then praise God together when you see the results. “When you rise”? Ask your children to think of someone they could bless today, and to think of how they could bless that person. These things don’t take long. They only take consistency

We’re trying to do this. It’s a slow process. We’re working hard right now with our little one to help him eliminate complaining and entitlement. It’s tough, and there are days when we want. to PULL. OUR. HAIR. OUT. But isn’t that what faithfulness is? Keep going, even when it’s not fun and you aren’t even sure if it’s working? Keep going, trusting God to redeem your efforts no matter how measly they may seem? You’re not on your own. This gets me to my punch line – the tools. Think of things you can do – little things! – to help your children get involved in things outside themselves. Model excitement for them, and they’ll get on board. We’ve chosen to do this each year through Operation Christmas Child. We go shopping as a family to fill a shoebox for a child who has nothing. Seriously, soap and a toothbrush is a delight to these precious kids. So each year our son chooses the age and gender of our OCC child, then we all go shopping together for toiletries, small toys, a few school supplies, underpants, and anything else we can jam into a shoebox. It doesn’t take much, and it gives us an opportunity not only to model and teach giving to our son but also to share with him that there are people around the world who don’t have basic needs. Can you imagine drinking water that makes your belly sick? What would you sleep on if you didn’t have a bed? What if we weren’t able to have any gifts for Christmas? These are the kinds of things we talk about. He learns that we have so much, even if things are a little tight for us during that particular time or any other time. Is he getting it? Well, he’s 6. It’s certainly not cemented yet. But he has a great time with it, and slowly but surely we are trusting God to help it take root.

A desire to be faithful to God is certainly of Him. We don’t get that on our own. Teaching our children to think of others, and seeing our little ones grow into fellow advocates for orphans around the world? That’s definitely God at work. Be faithful. We have no idea what God will do with our children’s’ lives on behalf of the vulnerable. Below is one way we’re trying at our house.  Won’t you please comment and share ideas that you have from your house? 


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