Train children in the right way,and when old, they will not stray.
As Pastor Greg mentioned in the sermon Sunday, the amount of time and the quality of time we spend with our children is a stewardship issue. Life is busy and messy, and we run around “doing” many things—working, cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping, paying bills, taking classes, church, Sunday school, Wednesdays @ the Well, volunteering, chauffeuring children/grandchildren to school and other activities, exercise, school events and the list goes on. We strive to be good stewards of our time by giving quality time to each of our children and grandchildren. Sometimes in our hustle and bustle we forget that time in prayer for our loved ones is quality time as well.
We have a responsibility to our children and grandchildren to give them the tools and understandings they need to lead responsible, faith-filled lives. They need to learn to be caring, empathetic adults. We know, as the Bible says, that planting the seeds of faith when children are small will initiate a faith journey that will last a lifetime. It seems easy when they are little. Model the behaviors you want them to have, take them to Sunday School, church and make certain they have good friends with similar values. When kids are preschoolers and elementary age, it seems simple. It takes quality time, but it is not a hard job. “A piece of cake,” we think to ourselves. “Instilling good values and helping kids learn about God is easy– especially when you have a supportive church family that provides high quality religious education.” Remember time is precious and now is the time to pray. Pray for their growing understanding of God and the Bible. Pray that they are learning the lessons of caring for others, giving of themselves and becoming close to God. Give thanks for those that help them along the way.
But then comes the teenage and young adult years. They are supposed to learn to question things; it’s frustrating but a necessary stage in their development. It helps them to be able to discern how they want to live their lives. Spend quality time with them. Put down the phone and really listen. Encourage them to have positive relationships with other Christian adults. Sometimes the “other adult” will say just what is needed and help them on their path. These caring adults might be found in confirmation, other church activities, Scouting or school. Insisting on church and Sunday School attendance and other church-related activities is a way to keep your teenager close to those with similar values. Remember time is precious and now is the time to pray. Pray for your child’s ability to use their cognitive, emotional and spiritual abilities to discern a faith-filled path for their life. Pray that the Holy Spirit finds a comfortable home in their hearts. Give thanks for the Christian adults that are a part of their life.
Before you know it, they are adults. Have they turned from the way you taught them? Do they have a faith-filled life? For some, the answer is “yes,” but for many, the answer is “no” or “I’m not sure.” You might think you have no influence at this stage, but you would be wrong. The messages they heard earlier are still there being repeated in their mind. They may be pushing them aside and the voices from the past may be small and quiet, but they are still there. Our tendency might be to “nag” them into church attendance, but is this what God would want us to do?
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging bell. -1 Corinthians 13:1 (NIV)
Instead, continue to love them, continue to be a good role model and most of all, remember that time is precious and now is the time to pray. Pray for a spiritual re-awakening in them. Pray for patience for yourself and to know that God will answer your prayer. Pray there will be others in their life that will help to lead them back to their faith.
Dear Heavenly Father, help me spend quality time with those important to me, especially my children and grandchildren. Lead me to prayer on their behalf at every stage of their lives. Let them seek and find You, love You, and follow Your ways. As a member of a church family, let me remember to use some of my precious time to pray for the spiritual growth of all the children, youth, and adults in our congregation. In your holy and precious name, Amen.
Written by Julie Johnson