When I was a youth pastor, most of the students I worked with could not tell me what their fathers did for a living. If they were lucky, they could tell me the name of the company their dad worked for. In rare instances, they knew the general field or job title their dad had. Why is this? Our kids are not paying that much attention to what we do for work outside the home. They care far more about what takes place in the home and in family relationships. You would be hard pressed to find a kid who would not trade a dad with a high-powered executive position who is never home for a dad with a blue-collar job who loves his wife as Christ loves the church and who gives the best of his time and his heart to his family. Our kids will remember who we are at home far more than what we accomplish in our work and activities outside our home.
Can you remember specific things your parents taught you when you were growing up? I am not talking about general principles but about direct quotes. If I gave you a blank sheet of paper, how many direct quotes do you think you could come up with from your mother or father? I think that most of us would be able to come up with a few corny sayings, a couple of jokes, and maybe a snippet of wisdom or two. But what if I asked you to write down as much as you could about who your parents were—their character traits, strengths, and weaknesses? You could fill page after page! Why? Because your heart was deeply impressed by experiencing the character of your parents, and you will remember those things for the rest of your life.
Our kids are impacted by who we are, not only by what we say. In Deuteronomy 6, we see that God wants us to talk with our kids often about spiritual things. The message here is not in contrast to that teaching but complimentary of it. If you seek to have a God-filled daily life, you will be talking about spiritual things! A godly lifestyle, prayer, and Scriptures will be woven through your daily routines, and your children will observe this. When your children are fifty years old, they may not be able to remember a lot of specific things you said, but if they are asked to describe your character, they will say, “My mom and dad were always talking about the things of God. He was on the forefront of their minds, and that spilled over into everything we did.” We pray that our children will say that about us and the life that they experienced in our home.
When a child hears the love of God through prayer, Scripture and spiritual conversation and at the same time experiences the love of God through parents who demonstrate grace and love, that child has a great foundation his or her relationship with God. I recently had a conversation with an eighty-year-old woman at a Visionary Parenting Conference. She shared how her father prayed and read the Bible every morning at breakfast while she was growing up. Wow! What a blessing that was to her. Later, she shared with me how she also felt incredibly unloved by her parents. She told me how she remembers her father regularly shaming her, “How could Jesus ever love you when you misbehave like that?” Honestly, it is miracle of God that this woman continued to walk with Jesus once she left that home. God help us give our children not just the truth from your Word but the daily experience of your love!