Overwhelming. Huge responsibility. Must not fail. I remember the day Doug and I began discussing bringing a child into this world. We felt excitement, enthusiasm, anticipation and joy as we imagined what our child would be like. The awesome responsibility of parenting began weighing heavily on us from that very moment. How will we teach our child to let her light shine?
Every parent has grand and wonderful plans for their child. We all want the best for them and no matter how blessed our lives have been, we want even more for our children. I know for us, we want Lily to find things she is passionate about and to pursue them with everything she has. For the most part, we will not choose her passions. She may love music or sports or art. She may be an attorney or a teacher or a chef. Only time will tell. Some things, however, are so much more important than her choice to be a pitcher or a pianist or even president. No matter what she chooses for her hobbies or her profession, we want her to be Godly.
I often wonder how we are doing in instilling our spiritual and moral values in our child. My heart sings when I hear her singing "I Like to go to Church" or imitating her Bible class teacher as she lines up her cars and counts to see how many cars came to church. I am encouraged when she tells the checker at Target "tank you." Then I remember that she is 2, and that we have so much work to do to help shape the person she will become.
I was recently reading an article on Dr. Sears' site about raising a moral child. More than once in the article, he referenced a window of opportunity in the first six years of a child's life. In this window of opportunity, children unquestionably accept the virtues displayed in the lives of their parents. We have six years to shape the hearts, minds and souls of our children and then our influence begins to wane. Six years. The awesome responsibility of parenting becomes heavier and heavier.
The Bible (as usual) provides great insight. In Deuteronomy 6:4-9 we read the following:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
"And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."
We must immerse our families in the love of God. We must immerse our families in loving God. We must do whatever it takes. In order to have children who love God with all their hearts, souls and strength, we must invite God into every part of our lives. Nothing can be more important.
It is perfectly acceptable to want your children to succeed in other aspects of their lives, but our kids have to see what comes first in our lives. Children listen to our words, but they learn from our actions. If we want their love for God to be number one, they must see God being number one in our lives. It is so much more than having them at church every time the doors are open. They must see us being kind, loving our enemies, helping those who need our help.
We want their lights to shine; let them learn that from us.