Friday, October 4, 2013

Family on Purpose {Because the Bible Says So}

I recently started sewing, with a sewing machine. My sewing history is long and complicated, but the short version is that I have long been afraid to pull out my old trusty Singer. Fear kept me avoiding the task for years. Until one day, when I pulled on my big girl pants and just tried. Since then I’ve learned a few things, and I’m getting the hang of it. But every so often I forget. Something might need to be adjusted on the machine, or my stitches start bunching, or other things go wrong and I need to fix it. But that machine of mine, she doesn’t really tell me to what to do-she just starts to misbehave. So I pull out the manual and study up to fix the problem. 

My children are a lot like that sewing machine.

I can tell when something is off because they’re behavior begins to change. Unfortunately, they are not always able to tell me exactly what the problem is. That’s when I pull out my trusty guidebook, the Bible.

In God’s word I find all that I need as a parent.

A quick survey through the Bible indicates that children are a big deal to God. We can’t get to far into it without seeing how we are supposed to relate to children, and not just our own kids, but all kids. 

When God was setting up his people to enter their promised land, the place he had prepared for them to dwell and walk in blessings and abundance, he has some specific words about families and community. Through his servant Moses God gives a command for everyone. 

He tells the entire nation, not just the parents, how to raise up their precious children. The directions he gives are clear:

These commands I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6: 6-9)

God’s intention is that we lead our kids by walking together in his ways. That means we have to teach our kids God’s ways as we go for them to be successful in living a life that keeps God at the center. This applies to all adults, not just parents of young children. More on that in a bit.

Much later the Bible tells us not to frustrate, or exasperate, our children. But God doesn't just leave us with a list of what not to do. It goes on to say to bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6: 4). To bring one up implies an intentional, purposeful approach to how we raise our children. 

So there it is, a clear and specific Biblical mandate for parents to disciple their children. We use this word, disciple, a lot around churchy circles. I don’t know what other people mean when they say it, but I am referring to the process of teaching our kids to follow Jesus and be more like him. It’s a journey we’re in together. The word itself can maybe seem off putting, like some big and vague unattainable precept. But it’s really pretty simple. To disciple someone is to come alongside them and help them in their personal growth with God. It’s like mentoring, but more. It’s sharing life. It’s being available. It’s praying. It’s exploring God’s word together. And all those things happen really well when you already live with the people your leading, in fact they come quite naturally. 

Even if you don’t have children in your home that you can disciple, I bet that you have some children who you are naturally drawn to. It could be a neighbor, family, or friends through church. Your role is not to replace their parents, especially if they have parents who are already involved in leading them. Your role then is be one of supporter. One who comes alongside these parents, who loves their kids and is genuinely interested in their well being. It doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, I think the best discipleship is the kind that comes naturally. And for those who are spiritual orphans, then you can come in and be their champion. Every child needs one.


New here? 

This is part 4 of a 31 day series on how to be intentional as a parent, or more specially-creating the family you were meant to have.

You can catch up on all the posts here.

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