By Guest Blogger Brandon Holler, Associate Pastor at First Church of God in Columbia City, IN
As a youth pastor for more than 12 years, I have seen a shift in the past decade or two in our posture as parents with respect to our kids’ growth in academic and athletics by observing a “drop off and pick up” mentality. By this I mean, for example, that when it comes to my child becoming a great athlete, I drop him off and let his coach take care of that aspect of his life. In other words, his coach is my child’s athletic leader. When it comes to academics, we expect that our teachers are doing their job, and therefore we view them their academic leaders. The unfortunate end result of this type of thinking is that if my child is not the athlete or student that I want them to be, then the people to blame are the coaches and teachers, not me as a parent. I’m guessing that most of you have seen this played out at sporting events you’ve attended, as well as perhaps heard stories about parent/teacher meetings gone wrong. But more importantly, I hope that you can recognize that this type of approach is flawed, and that although there is some merit to turning to specialists and leaning on their expertise for the benefit of our children, the buck needs to stop with the parent as the one ultimately responsible for their children.
Even though we’ve brought up the athletic and academic sides to our child’s life, the question remains as to whether or not this mentality is also at work with respect to the spiritual side of our kids’ lives. When it comes to the development of my child’s faith, morals, and attitudes, does God want me to simply drop off my child at church and then pick them up, trusting that their pastor or small group leaders assume the role as their spiritual leader? Is taking my child to church the extent of my parental responsibility? Who is the spiritual leader of my kids?
My hope in painting that flawed picture above is that it will help you also make the conclusion that perhaps God has a greater calling to my child’s spiritual life than simply a “drop off and pick up” strategy. And the great thing about this is that the Bible offers support of this as well. In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses is with the nation of Israel on the banks of the Jordan River giving a message that includes several instructions on what it means to be the people of God as they enter the Promised Land. One of the greatest concerns from Moses’ perspective dealt with how their children were going to hear about how God delivered them from Egypt so that they as well would put their trust and confidence in Him. As we read these verses, it is important to observe on your own who it was that God called to be the primary leaders in passing down this great faith to the next generation:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children…”
It is vitally important to note that verse 7 does not say, “You shall teach them diligently to those who come to God’s house,” thereby putting the responsibility on the religious leaders of the nation of Israel, but rather it was the parents that God was specifically talking to as those responsible to pass their faith down to their children. In fact, the major point that is being made here that is so pertinent for us as parents today is this: Parents are the spiritual leaders of their children! One of the main reasons for this is found simply in the fact that parents have much more time and influence in our child’s life than anyone else. In the book, “Think Orange” Reggie Joiner shares that a parent has on average 3,000 hours with their child in one calendar year, which is in contrast to their youth pastor who has only 40 hours a year with them*. This statistic simply illustrates the fact that we as parents have much more time with our children to monitor and influence them in their relationship with God.
My hope and prayer for you is that if you have the courage to recognize that this is the case in your house and are ready to make the change, you will keep you eyes open to my future articles that are designed for those who wish to go become that spiritual leader that God has called us to be.
*Reggie Joiner, Think Orange. David C. Cook, 2009. Pages 87-88.
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