“Oh be careful little eyes what you see. Oh be careful little eyes what you see. The Father up above is looking down in love. Oh be careful little eyes what you see.”
If you were not able to hear the latest take from the Breaking Bad sermon series at church this weekend, I would encourage you to watch it through the church’s website or Facebook page once it’s posted. It’s a wonderful lesson about God’s purpose for parents teaching their children about the Savior. (Side note: I had a whole other blog written, but felt moved to write about this after how much I enjoyed the service.) The quick summary of the sermon point is this: God intends for parents to be the main and consistent force in their lives teaching them about God. A parent’s main job is to teach their children about God – everything else is second.
This message spoke to me. It’s something that I’m truly passionate about, and I have been working in Children’s Ministry, both volunteer and paid positions, for nearly fifteen years. I am both a parent and church worker with children. I spend a good portion of my days ministering to children, thinking about ministering to children, working out plans to minister to children, setting up or tearing down programs that minister to children, recruiting volunteers to help minister to children, setting up budgets for spending on ministry to children, ordering supplies for ministering to children … are we sensing a theme here? When I’m not working on those things, I’m striving to love, raise, excite, teach, encourage, discipline, deal with, and minister to my own children. I’m not an expert – but I would say I spend a lot of my time focused on children of all ages.
When my children were born, I felt gravely inadequate. These tiny, fragile, innocent little people didn’t come with instructions or a supply list. They just showed up in my life and were completely reliant on me for everything. Now, so many years later, I still often feel inadequate. I pray for guidance, work closely with my husband, take advice from friends and family, and strive to do the best that I can. I’m grateful that I don’t have to do this alone – but it’s still not easy. It goes from the little things like setting bedtimes and curfews to bigger things like handling the rules for co-ed parties and driving to the really big things like dealing with broken relationships and college choices. Then, add to that trying to master passing along something that seems intangible and so complex like faith in God, and most parents are just overwhelmed.
I deserve an Academy Award for keeping my patience with my son while learning his spelling words, but I struggle with taking the time to read him Bible stories before bedtime. It’s hard enough to get my teenagers to get dressed and out the door on time in the mornings, and yet I’m expected to teach them to understand God’s plan for them not to have sex until marriage. Those are the times where it seems easier to trust someone else to do that job. I’ll just keep them healthy and happy and let the real professionals at church take care of that part of the life lessons, right? Wrong.
I know that my Lord has a plan for me to teach my children about Him. I know because He says so in the Bible many times – Proverbs 6:22, Deuteronomy 6:6-7, Ephesians 6:4 and so many other verses. It’s there – I just have to do it. I don’t have to be the coolest mom on the block to get my teens to understand faith. I don’t have to make a cross craft every day after school with my son for him to learn about Jesus’ love. I just have to be a child of God myself and be open to talking with my children about that. I can make mistakes, because I am a broken and sinful human being; I don’t have to have all the answers because our God is one that surpasses human understanding. But I have to do it. I can’t just sit back and watch.
It’s not easy. It’s an everyday battle. It’s so easy to let that one Sunday fight turn into letting your child sleep in instead of come to church with you that day. But once it happens, it’s so easy to let it happen again … and again. That’s the slow fade, the one that happens so subtly that it may be years before you wake up one day and can’t remember when your child last went to church. That is a failure. It makes me think of what Albus Dumbledore says in Harry Potter, “there will come a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.”
There are so many things like that in parenting. It’s easier to not set a curfew than it is to sit up and make sure your children get home on time. It’s easier to let them watch or read or listen to any popular media than to research and restrict their intake. It’s easier to buy my son every single toy he wants than teach him about choices and spending. It’s easier to let my teens wear whatever they want than argue about what’s appropriate for public. It’s easier to let myself believe that my kids will learn about God at church than make sure they understand it at home. Each of these things is a step. One step toward easy makes it twice as hard to step the opposite way the next time. Teaching our children about God and making sure He is the focus of their lives simply is: The. Most. Important. Thing.
I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. And this isn’t a mind-blowing revelation for myself either. But the ‘how’ can still be the struggle sometimes. There’s a quote I love that says, “Children are great imitators, so give them something great to imitate.” It’s simple. Love your God. Love your children. Let them see you do both.
Fighting the fade,