There is nothing more important we can invest in than our marriage and children. Nothing will pay off more and nothing will make a bigger difference than giving your wife and children the love and attention they deserve.
You see, in His Word, God has given us the picture of a great family. Technically these instructions were given to the Israelites under the leadership of Moses on the eve of their entrance into the Promised Land. Moses reminds the people that the God who brought them out of Egypt and led them through the wilderness is not like the gods of the people whose land they were about to possess. The God of Israel is the one God. They were to give their entire selves to Him — heart, soul, and strength. Moses challenged the Israelites to teach their children well because they were about to be exposed to these false gods. In reality, it is the same challenge facing parents today.
Therefore God warns us and tells us how to teach our children to live. The first thing parents need to know is this:
It doesn’t matter what you know if you don’t know what really matters.
Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!”
What if your children have the right education, get the right job, drive the right car, live in the right neighborhood, but they have the wrong God? If they are wrong about who God is, then it really doesn’t matter what they’re right about. I’ve actually heard people say, “I’m not going to force my religion on my kids. I’m not going to force them to go to church. I’m just letting them find their own path.” There’s a word for that: crazy.
What you’re dealing with here is not only the most important thing in their life but also their eternal destiny. It’s more important your kids know God than they succeed in business. It’s more important they know God than they be popular. It’s more important they know God than they know how to hit a baseball. None of that other stuff is going to last.
So if you’re going to get anything done in the lives of your children, you need to make sure they get to know God – because that’s the only thing that is going to last. You can teach them how ride a bike, how to be nice to others, and how to pass tests in school, but have you taught them there is one God, above all, one God that is worthy of everything? This is the most important thing of all. Everything else hinges on getting this one right.
You should always focus on the relationship more than the rules.
Deuteronomy 6:5 “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”
The classic mistake is to pass down the rules without passing down the relationship. If you take the relationship away from the rules the result is almost always rebellion. Keeping the rules is a by-product of a trusting relationship. Moses was warning the Israelites (and us) that there would come a day when their children would question the rules. Anyone been there? He is trying to tell us, if we will have a life and a relationship that is right they will trust us when questions come.
You know why we can trust God? Because He demonstrated and proved His love. Notice this in Deuteronomy 6:24, “And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is at this day.”
He gave us rules to follow for our own good. The same is true for our kids, the rules are for their good, but they will never follow the rules unless we have a good relationship with them. Think about your children, the relationship you have with them, and decide right now, to give time and attention to developing their life.
It has to be in you before it can ever be in them.
Deuteronomy 6:6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.”
Issues of the heart like faith, values, and priorities, are learned in a unique way. They are best learned through observation. What would I think about your commitment to God if I looked at the magazines you read, the TV shows you watch, or your computer’s history log? What does that say about your heart?
Many life lessons are caught more than they are taught. Some things can only be transferred to one heart from another. Before you can begin to truly share God’s love with your child, you must know God’s love yourself. If we want our kids to sing and worship, then guess what, you had better sing and worship. If you want your kids and grandkids to go to church, then guess what? You had better set the example.
What we say is of great importance, but how we live and the paths we choose have an even greater impact upon them. It is the daily choices we make concerning what we will do and how we live that reveals to our children what we value most in life. Our words are only as good as the actions that back them up.
There is no substitute for the quantity of quality time.
If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times. “I don’t have much time to spend with my kids, but it is quality time.” Get this, quality time is quantity time. Notice…
Deuteronomy 6:7 “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.”It is the daily choices we make concerning what we will do and how we live that reveals to our children what we value most in life. Click To Tweet
That means you are with them, a lot. We need to be deliberate and intentional in teaching our children in all of the routine relationships of life. You are to lead them spiritually, you set the tone. You are the divine authority in the household. If you are going to be an effective leader, you must lead intentionally and that takes time. You need to value your family identity, because whenever family identity is strong, peer pressure will be weak, but wherever family identity is weak, peer pressure is strong. Have family time, let them see that it is great to follow Christ. Sit down and eat a meal now and then with your family and talk about the day and talk about your life and theirs, lead intentionally.
Lead relationally. My daughter Jennifer saw me take my wife Debbie out on a date almost every single week. Why, because I wanted her to know that she wasn’t in charge, that we guarded the integrity of our marriage. We were not child-centered parents. We had a God-centered marriage to one another, plus, I wanted her to see how a man should treat a woman, so when that hairy-legged guy named Chad came along who she’s now married to, she would look for character and heart and ask, “Is this a guy who fears God?”
You set the standards. They may not like them all but that’s okay because you’re not as concerned about your children’s immediate happiness as you are their holiness and their pursuit of God. Billy Graham was once asked by a reporter, “If you had your life to do all over again, what would you do differently?” It’s a great question. Here’s what he didn’t say. He didn’t say, “I would have done ten more crusades and led tens of thousands of more people to Christ.” He didn’t say, “I would have written another best-selling book that would have sold millions of copies.” What he did say when asked, “What would do differently if you had your life to do over again?” He said, “I would have spent more time with my kids.”