Lisa Sheffler, author
It’s a cliché, but that’s because it just might be true: parenting is the hardest job in the world. Teaching and molding our children to be the people that God wants them to be is a sacred task that requires constant prayer and guidance from the Spirit. We want our children to experience Christ’s love and salvation, and teach them what it means to be his follower.
Raising the next generation is a responsibility every member of Christ’s body shares. While the primary role belongs to the parents, all of us should love and support children as they grow. Even if you’re not a parent or if your kids are grown and gone, you can have a profound influence on the children in your extended family, church and community.
Part of our mission to be people helping people find and follow Christ is to reach out to the next generation with his powerful truth and unending love.
4Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
5Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
6These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.
7Impress 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.
4Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
What should parents do? What are they warned against doing?
My grandmother tried to warn me. I love the look of English Ivy and decided to plant it in one of my flower beds. “It’s pretty,” she said, “but you’ll have to keep after it, or it will take off and spread everywhere.” She was right.
Since I’m not much of a gardener, and I didn’t “keep after it,” the ivy grew well beyond the boundaries of my flower bed. It spread across the yard and choked out a patch of grass. It wound its way up the nearest trees and bushes. If I’d done what my grandmother suggested and trained it to stay inside the bed, it would have been beautiful. Because I didn’t, it became a serious nuisance.
Part of our responsibility in parenting is to train our children in the way they should go by providing boundaries that we establish according to God’s design. In Ephesians 6, God gives parents the responsibility “to bring up their children in the training and instruction of the Lord.” To understand what that looks like we can go back to Deuteronomy 6 to the guidance God gave to Israel — to impress God’s Word on the hearts of Israel’s children by talking about it during the course of everyday life.
In every stage of their development, we can help our kids understand who God is and what he desires for his people. This can come in the form of regular family devotionals, and intentional teaching moments, but it can also come in the real time application of God’s Word to everyday situations. Some of the most meaningful conversations I’ve had with my kids are ones in which we talked through their conflicts, struggles, and even successes and together applied God’s love and truth to what they were experiencing.
In Ephesians Paul warns against exasperating children. To exasperate means to irritate, to provoke to anger or resentment. One way we exasperate our children is by failing to give them clear, consistent, loving boundaries and hold them accountable when they cross them. Like the English Ivy in my yard, we have to train our children in the way they should go, and correct their course when they are growing in the wrong direction.
The model we want to follow is the one God provides as he disciplines us. Because he loves us and wants what’s best for us, God encourages our growth in the right direction and prunes us back when we need it. The pruning can be painful in the moment, but it’s nothing compared to the pain that will come if we move outside of the loving boundaries God has set up for us.
While the majority of training and instruction will come from parents, there is nothing better than having other adults in your children’s lives who will back you up. From school teachers and coaches to children’s and student’s ministry shepherds to grandparents, aunts and uncles, and family friends, having people who love, support, and correct your children is a true blessing. I’m so grateful to the people in my life who’ve taken the time to get to know my children, love on them, and nudge them towards Jesus. Another cliché that is overused is “It takes a village to raise a child,” but I’m convinced that one is true as well. Let’s be that village.
If you are a parent with kids at home, how are you intentionally doing Ephesians 6 and Deuteronomy 6? What part does prayer need to play (hint: a very big part!). Are you actively praying for your kids?
How can you be an influence for Jesus in the lives of other kids in your community? (Another hint: Christ Fellowship’s Promiseland and Student Ministries could use you!)
Mission Partner Spotlight
From Lynn Gallimore, our Webb ministry coordinator:
“Through the Adopt-A-School program of McKinney ISD, Christ Fellowship partners with the Webb Elementary school staff and faculty to support the students as well as the community at large. Webb Elementary serves about 500 students, of which over 70% are considered at risk due to family income. The staff at Webb are devoted to meeting the academic, emotional and physical needs of their students to equip them with the necessary skills to reach their highest potential. Christ Fellowship is a faithful partner in this endeavor.
The vision of this ministry is to be an encouragement to the staff, provide students a trusting relationship with an adult, and help meet the needs of this community as they navigate through the school year. We have been privileged to be a part of the Webb family for the past 15 years. Since parents are often working in multiple jobs, their PTA is not able to provide to teachers and students what many of us have experienced at our kid’s schools. Our partnership is greatly appreciated by those at Webb, not just because we serve them lunch, but because by continuing to serve their needs they know they are loved, prayed for and appreciated.”
To find out how you can get involved in serving Webb Elementary, visit the church’s website.