I didn’t do any of these things for myself. As parents, there are few things that we do solely for ourselves. We do and we do and we do for our kids. We love them, and we want them to enjoy life, have fond memories of us, and have a well-rounded childhood.
Many of my friends want these things for their children. They want them to have the best opportunities and the best possible start. As such, we put our kids into activities, take them to events, and buy them the best of the best. We give and we give and we give because we love them so deeply. But this year, I want to challenge us all to do something much more long lasting out of our deep love for our kids.
When it comes to the best opportunities and the best possible start for our kids in their relationship with Jesus, the one factor that matters most is our relationship with Jesus. Studies show that kids who see their parents active in the spiritual disciplines—praying, reading the Bible, serving compassionately, and faithfully attending church—are much more likely to follow in their footsteps. Kids are more likely to do what is modelled for them than what’s only talked about.
It’s like this: there is no point in saying, “Don’t eat junk food!” to your kids while you’re halfway through a bag of Doritos. Your kids won’t take you seriously. It’s the same if you tell them, “It’s important that we go to church,” but you blow it off for any or all other invitations on a Sunday morning. No, going to church doesn’t make you a Christian, but it encourages you to grow and reminds you of what your mission is.
In fact, we can say whatever we want to say, but our priorities are seen by our kids through what we do. If we say that we’re fans of the Raptors, but never attend a game or even watch one on TV, don’t know the name of a single player, and have no idea what their current record is, it’s obvious that we aren’t actually fans of the Raptors. We just like the idea of it.
Do you like the idea of following Jesus, or are you actually following him? What would your kids say?
I’m not asking you to become legalistic about anything, but I am inviting you to join me in a year of taking spiritual disciplines seriously. Let’s say we value prayer, AND pray every day. Let’s say we value reading the Bible, AND read the Bible every day. Let’s say we value church community, AND attend Sunday services and Home Church as often as humanly possible. Let’s say we’re compassionate, AND care for the marginalized and serve where able.
Let’s shake up our priorities so that we show our kids that we believe following Jesus makes our lives look different.
I’m going to put my cards on the table. I love sleep. If sleep were a person, it’d be family and I’d love it like my own child. I’d care for it, and nurture it, and treat it to whatever it wanted. I love sleep. But lately, I’ve felt called to wake up earlier to start my day with more time with Jesus. Most days, I wake up around 7am as my child starts her day. So, starting earlier probably means 6am. Did I mention I love sleep?
That being said, I’m telling you, my friends, that I want to learn the discipline of waking up earlier—to read Scripture, pray, meditate, hang out with Jesus—but I will struggle. I share this with you in an act of unity and accountability. Ask me how I’m doing with it. Send me a coffee. Pray for me to follow through.
What will you commit to this year in your walk with Jesus? You might not share it here, but share it with someone. Invite encouragement and accountability. Follow through. Make it happen. Your kids are depending on you.