What would you say is your most important job as a mother or father? Before you answer: to love or to provide, let's look at what the Bible has to say about this matter. Malachi 2:15 says “Has not [the LORD] made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.” While this verse is referring to the oneness of man and woman as husband and wife, it also makes reference to what God is seeking out of marriage, godly offspring. Every good mother and father that I know teach their children to work hard at school and make good grades so they can get a good job and be successful one day. It is important to instill hard work into our children, godly even, but God showed me that is not the #1 thing I should be focusing on in my home.
It seems to be a common thought process among mothers and fathers today that our most important responsibility to our kids is to love and provide for them or just to make sure they don't kill themselves or someone else! I say that halfway kidding but in reality that is the extent of parenting within some homes today. Obviously loving, providing and protecting them is important, but we must not neglect the very important job of teaching them the Word of God and providing them with an example of how to live a godly life so that our godly offspring may one day also produce godly offspring and so forth and so forth. Maybe your kids are grown and now have kids of their own. Maybe you feel like you fell short in this responsibility to your kids. Let me encourage you by saying it is not too late. If we still have breath, then God still means for us to be teaching the Word of God to others. Psalms 71:18 says “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.” Just because your children are grown and have children of their own is not a reason to throw in the towel. On the contrary, I think this is a very crucial time to be continuing to pass down the the truths of God's Words to your adult children and your grandchildren. As a young mother of 3 young children myself, I can attest to this. I need the spiritual guidance of my mother and father just as much now as I am trying to raise my own godly offspring as I needed it when I was a child. However, parents, we have to take full responsibility of raising our children in the ways of the Lord. We have to be careful not hand this off to anyone else.
Sadly, parents, I especially, have been guilty of thinking that it is the church's job to teach our children the Word of God. While we should make sure that the church we attend does teach the Word of God, we can not give to the church the full responsibility of training and molding our children to reflect Christ. My pastor said the other night that we have 500 families in our children's department alone. My church is somewhat of a big church so it is easy to see that there is no way that the church can provide the time and attention to each individual child that is required to teach and guide them effectively. But you might be thinking, “We go to a small church. We have only 5 children in our entire church! Surely the church can handle those 5?” Whether you are at a big church or a small church, I want you to consider this. If you go to church every time the door is open, usually Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night, that is still only somewhere around 6 hours a week. There are still 162 more hours in a week that our children are being influenced and soaking in teachings everywhere from school or daycare to what they see on TV. I think that most people would agree that what our society teaches us about beauty, happiness and success is not what we want our children to grow up believing. True beauty is not on the outside and does not depend on the shape of our body or the color of our hair. Happiness does not come by working 60 hours a week in order to become wealthy only to find out that you have neglected your family in the processes. And success is not defined by how much money you have. We parents need to be weaving into the hearts of our children what the Bible says about beauty, happiness and success. “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30) In regards to happiness and success the word of God says “If they obey and serve Him, they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity and their years in contentment.” (Job 36:11) We can not take this job of discipling our children lightly. You can be assured that Satan is not taking lightly what he has made his job, to lead them away from God. Let's live by the following words and teach our children to do the same, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33) (emphasis mine) If we long for all of these things for our children (success, financial stability, wonderful spouses, etc...) we must teach our children to seek first God's righteousness and He will add unto them all these things in accordance to His will.
Traditions are something I really enjoy. I love the idea of doing something that my mom did, and that her mother did and so on, and then passing that down to my children. Maybe, hopefully, they will one day pass it down to their children as well. But over time, traditions change. I wanted to share some examples of this with you so I enlisted the help of my mom and dad. I asked them to think about a tradition that they did when they were little, that their moms and dads did with them, and that is still carried on today or maybe not. They both gave wonderful examples. My mom remembered that every year on Easter, mothers went to church wearing a corsage. She said that usually the husband gave the corsage to the wife, and if he was a great husband, he would make sure that the corsage matched the new Easter dress!
Mothers day was another time that women or girls got corsages. This time, however, it was normally bought by the woman of the house. Usually just a red or white single rose but, if affordable, a red or white corsage. The red rose was worn by the women or girls whose mothers were still alive and white was worn if the mother had passed on. I remember doing this as a child. I have memories of my mother pinning the red rose on my dress and explaining to me what it represented. I also remember her wearing a white rose, as her mother had passed on to be with the Lord a few years before that. We still attend at that same church today and that tradition is no longer recognized there. As a matter of fact, I had forgotten that we ever even observed that tradition until my mom reminded me of it today.
Here is another example of a tradition that my father gave. He said that when he was little, everyone ate at the dinner table together, no exceptions. He said that from as far back as he could remember until the day he left his parents house, he could not remember one time not eating dinner that way. Also, he said, you ate what was cooked. If you didn't eat what was cooked and put on your plate, you didn't eat. And adults got their food first, then the kids. I assume this was out of respect for the elders of the family. Today in our society, many families do not eat together anymore and many parents cook to cater to the kids liking rather than what would be the most nutritional or affordable meal. When we go to my grandmother's house today, the kids still eat what has been prepared, but one tradition has been turned upside down, the kids go first, then the adults.
Why do you think all these traditions have changed or have ceased to be recognized? It is because generation after generation, and slowly throughout the years, we have allowed small changes to our traditions. Maybe we only taught the parts that we liked or just what we thought applied to our generation. Maybe sometimes we were too tired to teach them correctly so we let some things slip through the cracks. Can you see where I am going with this? Throughout the years, the way that the Word of God is being taught in the home has changed. When my grandmother's mother was alive, the Bible was known as truth, nonnegotiable. Now, many people either believe only the parts that they want to believe or just things that they feel apply to our generation or they completely disregard the Bible altogether. I am not implying that the Word of God is just a “tradition.” It is the truth by which we should all live our lives. What I am saying, however, is that we have to step up and start to teach our children the whole truth of God's Word. Not just the parts that we like or agree with. Not just the parts that we think apply to our generation. We can't let being too tired keep us from taking the time to teach God's precepts to our children in everyday situations. If we do not do as Psalms 71:18 says and declare God's power and might to the next generation, just like the examples of traditions that I gave, one day, and not too long from now, there will be little to no evidence that the principles of the Bible were ever taught or practiced or ever even existed in our nation. That is where we are headed.
The teaching of God's Word has to be number one priority in a Christian home. If you feel inadequate or too tired to put this into practice, realize that that is a lie that Satan wants you to believe in an attempt to keep you from living the life God has planned for you. Hold tight to the truth of this verse where God says, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9) and rely on God to be your strength and give you the ability to teach your children. If you say that you are too busy, then, sister, I must say in love that you should rearrange your priorities and place God at the top. Then kick something that is on the bottom of the priority list to the curb! If we must, we can go to sleep a few minutes earlier in order to wake up a few minutes earlier and spend time with God. I know this is easier said than done but please hear my heart on this. My intention is not to make you feel guilty. I have been on both sides of this and since I stopped making excuses and started making time with God and discipling my own children a priority, I have seen God work mightily in my family! I want you to experience the same thing in your home and for generations to come to experience that as well.
“Okay,” you say, “I want to teach the whole truth of the Bible to my children but I myself don't know the Bible. How can I teach something that I don't know?” The answer is simple. You learn the Bible. As I just mentioned, I have been on both sides of this and I asked the same question. And because I was and still am determined to leave a godly legacy for my children and their children and not let “good enough” be “good enough”, I sought God as to what I should do. God revealed to me that I should learn, then I teach them what I learned. How simple is that really?! In technique it is no different than teaching them what we have learned about the rules of our favorite sport or how to make a ponytail. But the result of teaching God's Word is far more rewarding than any other teaching we can give our kids.
“But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:15)