At the onset of 2020, I wanted to return to certain topics that are important to so many of us and to hear what the Bible has to say in those areas. In the 2020 Vision series, I talked about Strengthening The Home. In this particular post, the key points centered on having Godly marriages and family discipleship; knowing we are on display when we commit our homes to Christ. From that post, I wanted to delve deeper into the home and specifically raising kids. I’ve stated before that I am in no way an expert. I’m a work in progress as a husband and father. Sometimes these topics seem too far beyond my reach to even cover. But I know God gives much grace and even in my failures as a parent, He shines through.
I don’t want to take up a lot of time today introducing this series. It’s more important to get down to business and dive into today’s column which simply states, the home is a mission field. What does that mean for you and I as moms and dads (or moms and dads to be)? It means we look at our kids as primary recipients of the Gospel. They are the “harvest field” we have right in our midst. We sometimes think about where we should put our focus when evangelizing and reaching the lost. But can I submit that the lost are literally right under our noses? I mean some days are easier than others to admit little Johnnie or little Susie is a sinner. But no matter your strings attached to your kids, at the end of the day they need redemption just like anyone else.
A verse I love from the Bible is Proverbs 22:6: Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. I love this verse for parents because it is a promise. It’s a promise to say when you invest into your kids in their formative years, the seeds you are planting will bear fruit. The truth you share with them now is going to come back to them later. It reassures me as well. I mess up. I get it wrong A LOT. But if we are still pointing our kids to Christ, His grace will cover us. With that talk of planting seeds, I’d like to jump in today and talk more about this mission field we are blessed to steward. Let’s go!
1. Seeds sown today will bear fruit
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
It can be hard at times in parenting to see the end results of your labor. I vent about this often to my wife when I’m frustrated with one of our boys about a certain behavior or simply a lack of “not getting it yet.” When those moments come, I tend to get short with my kids because of my frustration. And I get upset with myself because there is most likely, some area I’ve come up short myself in being a dad. But I think we get tunnel-visioned in those moments. We have to get a bigger picture of our kids in their growth and maturation in life; physically, mentally, and spiritually.
I believe the key is to plant the seed of God’s word and water it daily. Kids need to both interact with the Bible and be in prayer and see you mom and dad interacting with God in likewise fashion. These are impressionable moments and I still remember seeing my parents pray and read their Bible. And that influences me to this day. From there, as children understand their need for Christ, encourage them to accept Him as Savior and to get baptized. Celebrate those moments and remind them that this is just the beginning. More is still to come and in Christ, life becomes so much sweeter!
2. There is no overnight recipe for success
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Ephesians 4:2
In keeping with the first point, this is a thought that we must have as Christian moms and dads: nothing happens overnight. Parenting is a daily process of step after step of teaching and reteaching. But small steps lead to big distances over time. In the process, don’t get discouraged. Kids are going to make mistakes and mess up. But in modeling Christ, one thing you can do is allow your home to be a place where grace is extended. When your kids fall, help them fall forward. In that way, they know they still have mom and dad’s love and that love points them to Jesus.
Again, when I talk about these points it’s like I’m looking into a mirror. I have to remind myself to be patient. And I have to listen to the whisper of the Lord, which often comes through the voice of my wife. “Remember he’s only 5. He still has a lot to learn. He still sees things through the lens of a 5 year old boy.” Those moments wake me up and help me become a dad who looks into the eyes of his son and sees him just as broken as I am. Just as much a sinner as I am. And just as much in need of Christ as I am. From there, I can model words and actions of love and forgiveness as Jesus has modeled to me. Even if you are a person who didn’t grow up in a Christian home, you can see Jesus’ character in Scripture and pattern your parenting style after Him. It’s never wrong to be like Jesus…especially when it comes to raising kids.
3. Your kids are your primary mission field
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
It may seem redundant to say it, but your kids are your primary mission field. I mentioned this in the opening paragraphs but as a specific point, I want to stress the weight of this statement. As much as we think about how much wisdom and life skills we need to impart to our kids, the one thing that matters most is them seeing Christ in you. Your life should flow out of a walk with Christ where Jesus is not seen as just an add-on or something we somehow fit into our lives. He is life. He is what we live for and are about. Without Him, we are empty and aimless souls. Our kids need to see that hope now so they can turn to it in the moments when life brings despair and disappointment. Because it will.
You do not have to have it all together to raise kids in the Lord. You are not ultimately responsible for their salvation. But your life on display should point them to and underscore what they read in the Bible. Yes we make mistakes and even those can be opportunities to show your kids what forgiveness should look like. We both readily extend and receive forgiveness as parents. We do not treat our kids like we are always without fault. You don’t want to give them a reason to resent you (and ultimately Christ) because of an authoritarian, unapologetic manner of parenting. Christ has shown us much grace in His work on the cross. We are to display Christ’s character to our kids.
It is my belief that the home is a place where children should be able to see a Christian up close and personal in ideally both parents. This means both mom and dad are engaged with their sons and daughters on a daily basis. They are willing to field tough questions and perhaps say “I don’t know” when faced with something that truly is beyond their understanding (again you don’t have to have it all figured out). The home is a safe place where learning and growing are encouraged and even expected because Christ is consistently transforming and renewing us.
Moms and dads, I hope what is posted here is taken with the grace that it is typed with. You and I are not perfect and our kids readily pick up on that at a young age. But they also understand that they are not perfect and that a flawed human nature extends to them. At that point, the need and desire for a renewed heart is something kids can totally pick up on and understand. There’s nothing sweeter than the parent who gets to lead their own child to Christ. If you don’t know if your child has made this decision, you can pray two prayers: One, that the home would be a place where the Holy Spirit is felt and recognized. And two, that your son or daughter would see their own need for Jesus and be bold enough to ask you to pray with them.
I love walking this journey with you guys and parents, I’m right there in the fight with you! Now more than ever, the home needs to get back to the basics of faith and an understanding of God’s word. Next week we are going to look at the home as a battlefield. I can’t wait to join you once again!
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Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Ephesians 5:15-17
Other blogs for further reading:
Strengthening The Home: Where It All Begins (2020 Vision)
Profiles In Courage - NOAH
More Than A Song: Pray by Derek Charles Johnson