For August’s Hot Buttons posts, I’m going to call our enemy out on one of the lies he tells parents. I hope you’ve recognized his wily ways before now, but if not, there’s still time!
That’s what satan says about parents’ responsibility for the spiritual upbringing of their children. Funny… it’s in direction opposition to what God has to say about it:
Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn from it.
Ephesians 6:4b, “…bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
I tend to get pretty riled up on this subject, so bear with me. Mom and Dad, why would you believe that it’s okay not to instruct your kids yourself, and not to put them in the path of Biblical training and instruction (church, youth group, summer camp, reading material, etc) every chance you get? I’ve had this discussion with several parents lately. Here are some of the responses I got:
- They’re teenagers–they don’t want to get up early on Sunday.
- They stay up too late on Saturday.
- I’m choosing my battles.
- They prefer youth group.
- They don’t like the other kids at church.
- God will reach them in His timing.
- They have too much homework.
- They’re grounded. (This was in regard to youth group.)
- They just talk to their friends through the whole service anyway.
- They need to make their own choice.
Are you training your kids, or are they training you?
Families are so often in a get-through-the-day mode that they lose sight of the reason for these childhood years: Training. You have a few short years to make an impact and then it’s too late. Take every single chance you have. Do the tough stuff…put in the extra effort. It will pay off–God promises it will.
1. Model it by your own Bible study, prayer life and church attendance.
2. Make it a requirement of your home that you study the Bible and attend church together–don’t fall for the liberal, universal teachings that suggest there are many paths.
3. Make sure the church you’re attending is teaching the Bible, 100%.
4. Offer them quality resources like movies and books that will help them make good choices and build on your foundational training.
It grieves me to see how the priority of spiritual training has become so eroded in our society. Let’s start in our own homes by putting first things first and doing some hard things to make the necessary changes while your kids are still under your roof. They’ll thank you for it later.
I’d love to hear your comments on this. What do you think? Should teens be “forced” to go to church with their parents? What do you do in your home?
Now, in true Hot Buttons style, I’ll give you a fictional “Strategic Scenario” you can use to put your teen in the heat of the moment. You should take this as an opportunity to see where your teenager may need some help or might face a struggle one day.
Now, tell your teen this story as though it’s really happening to him/her:
You’re so busy with school, sports, band, and friends. It’s like you never have any time to yourself. You’d love it if your parents would let you back off on some of your youth group activities, but you’re afraid to bring it up. Then one day a friend makes a statement you’d already been thinking yourself: If you don’t really want to go, maybe it’s best that you don’t. Maybe church just isn’t for you–at least right now. What do you do?
Present the following choices to your teenager:
- You ignore the doubts and put up with the church attendance–there’s no way your parents would let you out of it anyway.
- You make up excuses to get out of going to church activities as much as possible and just deal with it when you have to go.
- You reach out to some atheist friends to see what they believe and why. But you keep your doubts to yourself.
- You talk to your parents and/or pastor about your concerns.
Now let your teen make a choice between the responses without feeling judged or directed. You want the response to be as honest as possible. Remember, you’re most likely battling peer pressure and a potentially weakened self-image.
Here are some discussion points you can use to lead the conversation after the choice is made:
- What are your family beliefs, and why?
- What are the rules for church attendance, and why?
- Make a plan for dealing with doubts.
- Discuss the way your family handles overcommitment and what a balances schedule looks like.
- Talk about satan’s plan for driving a wedge and stirring up doubt.
- Pray together for wisdom and strength against his schemes.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. Proverbs 3:5-8