‘What you believe and where you aim your heart determine the direction and outcome of your entire life through eternity. Eternity is at stake for all of us, including parents that shepherd their children. What is more relevant than that?’
–Michelle Anthony, co-author 7 Family Ministry Essentials: A Strategy for Culture Change in Children’s and Student Ministries
If I am honest, what I say I believe and what I do is often not congruent. What I really want for my children is not what is often played out in the day-to-day life I live. What do I actually do with my time, energy and resources? When we as parents feel we are surviving not thriving, we find ourselves living in the moment – we’ve lost sight of the end game. Perhaps it’s time to pick up the mirror and have a critical look at myself.
Read John 10:1–14.
We hear the enemy distorts the abundant life and distracts us, enticing us to pursue a false abundance that leads us away from the Shepherd. But Jesus is the Good Shepherd, offering us green pastures and still waters.
How are the people close to you at risk? Who are they following? Whose voice are they listening to?
When eternity is at stake there is certainly a sense of urgency. Parenting with the end in mind requires us to intentionally pause, and make note of the people whom we hope and pray our children will become.
How do we go about this? Read Deuteronomy 6:4–9.
‘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. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.’
What words come to light for you as a parent when you read these verses? What is God asking of you in these verses? How do these verses influence you as a shepherding parent? Consider why we are to do this when we lie down, when we rise and when we walk along the road.
God is asking us not to add any new program or devotion into our lives. He’s not asking us to outsource this role to anyone else. He is asking us –as parents –to make him a part of all the daily, ordinary parts of life together as a family. It’s less about the ‘things to do’ and more about ‘ways to live and think’.
And he gives us all we need to do just that. We can start with a pause. We can notice. We can thank. We can stay curious about those around us. We can invite God into the ordinary and be the window into a life of faith our children are so desperately wanting to know.
Read Ephesians 3:20–21
‘Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.’
What do we learn from Paul’s words here?
Parenting with eternity in mind is not perfect parenting, but rather imperfect parenting from a spiritual perspective.
Rachel Schilling is Grow Ministries Congregation Coach.
This feature story comes from The Lutheran March 2020. Visit the website to find out more about The Lutheran or to subscribe.