[Isaiah] replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” ~ 1 Kings 19:10
At the king’s command couriers went throughout Israel and Judah with letters from the king and from his officials, which read: “People of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, that he may return to you who are left, who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. ~ 2 Chronicles 30:6
“Lord, the God of Israel, you are righteous! We are left this day as a remnant. Here we are before you in our guilt, though because of it not one of us can stand in your presence.” ~ Ezra 9:15 NIV
How long does it take for a nation to leave God? One generation. How long does it take our family to not know God? One generation. One generation failing to model and teach God to the next generation.
I am an observer of life. When the stakes are high, I try to learn from other’s mistakes rather than make the same ones myself. When the stakes are extraordinarily high, with irreversible results, my radar is on and I am picking the brains of the winners. The number one goal I had for my children as they grew (besides getting them to adulthood alive!) was to have them be God-followers by the time they left home. There are few precious years that we parents have a powerful influence on our children. By the time they are adolescents, friends begin to take on more influence. Once they leave home, they develop their own support system which influences them.
If we want to influence our children, we must first earn their respect and trust. This is done in part by being faithfully consistent in our interactions with them. For example, if we want our children talking to us when they are teens telling us what is on their hearts, then we must patiently listen to their gurgling and then their chattering when they are young as though these are very important conversations, because to the child, they are very important conversations.
Whenever possible, we must discipline without embarrassing the child or becoming angry because at those points, the child will not remember the point of the discipline, they will remember the embarrassment or our anger. Dr. Thomas L. Garthwaite, Under Secretary for Health once said, “People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.” This is important because it is difficult to positively influence someone who does not trust and respect us.
It concerned me through the years when I met couples who from all appearances were faithful followers of God whose grown children had no use for God. Honestly, I don’t have the answers to those scenarios, although I have considered formally researching the issue. I just knew I did not want that for my family. That is why I picked the brains of the parents who had grown children like I wanted my children to be. One thing I learned was I needed to become the kind of person I wanted my children to be when they were grown.
I was blessed to grow up with Christian parents who lived what they taught. The people they were at church and in front of others were the same people they were when our family was home alone. When a person is close to God, immersed in that relationship, it influences the rest of their life and informs that person’s decisions. One of my favorite memories of my dad is of him sitting in his lounge chair in the living room with his Bible open in his lap, studying for a Bible class he was teaching. Now that I think of it, that memory, along with other experiences God provided, were foundational to my developing my own habit of daily quiet time with God.
In the same light, I am convinced that if we Christians would live what we profess to believe, it would revolutionize not only our families but the world. If we would spend enough time with God each day to really get to know him, and be the same person in the home, at work, on vacation, or with friends that we show ourselves to be at church, this would be foundational in drawing our children and even our friends to God. Want to help me try it and see if it works? What do we have to lose?
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