September 17, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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Every December, I take some time to pray and evaluate my goals for the upcoming year. I typically come up with around 10–15 goals—a few larger ones and several smaller ones. Year after year, these goals have helped me immensely in my relationship with God, in my marriage, with my children, at work, in my finances, etc.
A few years ago, I realized I needed to distill my list of goals for the year into one single word that would encapsulate the entire year. Making that shift has really helped me to focus on what matters most, while also not losing sight of all the things I’m looking to accomplish that year.
I believe it’s helpful to take a similar approach to parenting. As parents, we have various, important responsibilities when it comes to our kids such as building morals and character in them, creating memories with them, and ensuring our family heritage and traditions are passed on to them. While things like spending quality time and connecting with our kids, giving our kids a hug and kiss and telling them we love them every day (yes, our teens need this more than ever from us, their parents), and being intentional to listen and understand their point of view are all important aspects of parenting, we have to ask ourselves what is the most important. I believe raising our children to live with an eternal perspective is at the top of the priority list.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress 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.”—Deuteronomy 6:4–7 (NIV)
This section of Scripture is called the Shema, which means to “hear.” Notice how this passage begins with a charge for all of Israel to listen well to what God wants to tell them through Moses. God had worked in miraculous ways for the nation of Israel, and He wanted His people to keep His mighty works in the forefront of their minds. Then, after Moses challenges his listeners to hear and remember, he tells them to share God’s commandments with their children. Lastly, the passage provides specific daily examples of when God’s people can remind their children of what He’s taught them. In order to transfer faith to the next generation, parents are exhorted to tell their children of God’s greatness every single day.
Our charge as parents is the same today in 2022 as it was in the time of Moses. We’re called to remember who God is and all He’s done for us. As parents, it’s our job to pass these truths on to our children.
Deuteronomy 6 is a reminder of who God is, all He’s done, and the amazing opportunity we have to respond to Him with love. We’re parents in need of grace, saved by grace, and now able to give grace to our children. He loved us enough to rescue us, even while we were still sinners and refusing to love Him. Now, we respond to Him in love because of what He’s done for us. This is what we most need to remember while leading our kids in loving and serving God and one another: We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). This is the gospel—the good news of Jesus Christ that transforms hearts and homes! It’s a reminder to live by example and tell God’s story well to all people—especially to our children.
Parents, how are you telling His story to your children? As a church, we’re in this with you, and we’re called to help plant and water the seeds of faith in the next generation.
The greatest contribution you’ll ever make to the world is not what you do, but who you raise. As parents, we have a responsibility to pass on to our children the importance of having a relationship with God, to walk out our faith in everyday life, and to show our kids what it looks like to love God with all of our hearts, souls, minds and strength.
As we look with anticipation towards what will hopefully be the first “real” summer in three years, let’s be sure to keep an eternal perspective—instilling authentic love for God and others into the lives of our kids!