Good Monday morning, friends. I don’t know about you, but in a lot of ways I feel like last week was a long dark, black tunnel. After being snowed in with the snow storm and working to process terrible news last week, it’s like we lived in some extended world for a little and just this morning I’m feeling like we’re coming back. Much of it still lingers, but I do feel a path is open to move on.
One phrase has followed me since IF:Gathering weekend and I’m feeling like it’s the phrase God has for me right now. Just four words: under your own roof.
Jen Hatmaker first spoke these words in her IF:Gathering talk. She spoke about communion in Luke 22 and how the phrase “do this in remembrance of me” actually translates to meaning “constantly make this real.” It means just as Christ was broken and poured out for us, we are now to be the ones constantly being broken and poured out for others. She said, “the world is looking for someone constantly making it real.” For her, she found God leading her to the forgotten and neglected in her homeless community in Texas. She suggested, though, that we might need to start with those under our own roof. Are we constantly serving and making Christ real to our spouse and children?
That phrase stuck with me and during our small group time at IF, I shared with my friends that many times God has asked me why I am so willing to spend many hours to research, read, think and write for you guys here and yet, I am not often willing to put in such work for two little girls that he’s entrusted me with for only a few more years.
Just yesterday when I was writing in my journal, I was feeling frustrated that I feel the call to be more intentional with my girls but I am having a hard time connecting. Don’t get me wrong, we play games together and cook together and read together and talk at bedtime every night, but being super intentional with their spiritual lives isn’t coming easy.
Our pastor yesterday again talked yesterday about what it meant to be a disciple and how we are to go and make disciples. But how many times, the pressing work that needs done is to make disciples of those under our own roof.
I don’t mean to say that we’re to shut out the world and do no ministry outside of our homes. In fact, how will our children learn to serve if we are not serving? But I do think sometimes we are neglecting what is right in front of us as parents and unwilling to call that ministry too.
If there is one thing I want for my children it is to love the Lord. It is not so that they are perfect in life, but so when they are not perfect, they have a hope. I want them to make wise choices and love the Lord with all their heart and when they screw up, that they quickly know their sin and turn from it. I hope they find joy and purpose in Christ.
But here’s the thing. I don’t think this happens by accident. I don’t think we can sit idly by and hope they figure all that religion stuff out on their own.
1 Timothy 6:11 says we are to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith. Our faith is a fight. It doesn’t just happen. We are to be on the offensive and pursuing what is good. We have to not just teach our kids that, but model it. Are we pursuing our own faith? Are we pursuing godliness in our children?
Many times we are leaving it up to bedtime prayers and if we’re part of the small percentage that actually go, to our local children’s church pastors. I don’t say that with condemnation to anyone but myself.
I realize much of our morals and beliefs and habits are passed down just by living life. But I think there’s something missing when we’re not constantly, intentionally striving to build our children’s faith right in the home. Part of that will be to take them to the local church, but it cannot be all of it. Part of that will be to say nightly prayers, but it cannot be all of it.
If I think back to my childhood there are many things that came together to build my faith:
- I was always able to ask questions about faith.
- Prayer was central to life. I listened to my mom pray on the phone, she prayed over me when I was scared, she prayed for me.
- My mom always was speaking about what the Bible said about any situation.
- My mom was always listening to sermons outside of Sunday morning.
- My parents read books to grow in their Christian walk.
- They played Christian music around the house and in the car and encouraged us as teenagers to do the same.
- They encouraged and sometimes forced our own quiet devotional times as we got older.
- They were picky about the friends I surrounded myself with.
- They took me faithfully to the local church—even when we didn’t want to go.
- We were forced outside to play and we traveled, giving us an appreciation for nature and God’s creation.
- They encouraged our gifts and talents and I watched them use their own gifts to serve others.
My parents aren’t the golden standard, but when I look back, I do see that a lot of it is starts with us as parents. We must be constantly making it real for ourselves and then boldly encouraging—and sometimes forcing–our children to do the same.
When you look in Scripture, it says that Scripture itself is useful for this. 2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
I think, though, that it’s intimidating and confusing on how to make Scripture part of their young lives. Do we just read? Do we memorize? Do we write it out? Do I have to make crafts? What do we do??
I’d love to hear either what you are doing as a parent to make disciples of your children or what your parents did that helped you.