I recently attended a conference where the majority of speakers spoke about reaching the heart of a child. God began to speak to me about the two little lives he had entrusted me with. I thought, “how much time and deliberate effort have I been putting in to the calling to reach their hearts?” My mind also went to the thirteen souls that sat in my classroom all year as I taught them in third grade. How much more could I have said and done to direct their lives? Or, even still, the faithful group of kids in my Sunday School class.
So many lives and so much God-given opportunity had been wasted. Here I am, a teacher and a mother, and the thought of reaching my child’s heart was not really at the forefront of my daily activities. In my ignorance I thought that stern discipline followed by a change in behavior was enough. I speak, they obey. Great! All is well.. Right?
…there is a greater task than just raising kids that will obey
The more I pray, read and study, the more I understand that there is a greater task than just raising kids that will obey. Obedience is great, but what about their heart? Are they still jealous, angry, selfish, and disrespectful? The root of all of their disobedience is sin. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are all just as sinful as our little ones.
Our children have been entrusted to us by God for a very brief time. It is our responsibility to see them grow up to be the next generation of believers, disciples, leaders, pastors, missionaries and world-changers. I fear that we are only trying to survive and make it to another day by thinking we can manage the chaos around us. We occupy, bribe, threaten, and entertain them long enough to keep our sanity. Is that really enough? Is that really what God intended successful parenting to look like?
I encourage you.
Be mindful of your daily interactions with these little souls. They understand more than you think they do. Take the time and effort to get to the root of your daily struggles with them. Don’t rule them by intimidation or threats. What happens when they no longer fear you? Don’t manipulate them with bribes and rewards. What happens when they are no longer appealing? Don’t shame them into submission. What happens when they no longer care what you think?
Please, let’s use our time with them wisely. Every day we have with them is a precious gift from God. Use each conversation as an opportunity to pour out God’s love into them. You can never talk about God too much. Let them understand His love and forgiveness for them even when they are little, that when they grow old they will not depart from it. Take this calling seriously, and be intentional. Don’t let the days pass by only to be haunted by regrets that you had done things differently. They are little now. Mold them, shape them, and then release them to be the Lord’s arrows into the world.
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. -Proverbs 22:6