First, let me share with you my deep conviction that the most important job facing parents, including and especially fathers, is teaching their children about Jesus. Our Lord inspired Paul to instruct the Christians in Ephesus, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” I want to spend time in eternity WITH my children. God gives eternal life in heaven by His grace, through faith in His Son, our Savior. Sharing Jesus with our children is THE most important job a parent has.
However, I confess that my job as pastor, which called for me to shepherd others in their faith, often caused me to leave the task of teaching my children about Jesus to my wife, Kathy. Many other families had mom AND dad to help get children to church and Sunday School. While Kathy was getting them ready, I was already at church. Many other parents had a mother AND a father to guide their children during worship. But, on Sundays I was always otherwise occupied with leading the worship service. So, Kathy got children ready for Sunday School and church alone. Kathy tried to keep the children in line and attentive during worship . . . alone. In many ways Kathy had to operate as a single parent on Sundays. What a blessing to have a wife who shares my conviction that sharing Jesus with our children was our most important job!
So, I take Kathy’s opinion on raising children in the faith seriously. And this week she sent me an August 6 devotion called “The Quiet Life” by Author: Megan Breeland Woodham of One Step Ministries. With deference to Kathy, I share with you this devotion, which she shared with me.
Take your kids to church. Make the effort. Wake them up early. Fool with the belts and the buckles and the fancy hair bows. Endure the sleepy, grumpy faces and the misplaced shoes. Run around like a mad woman gathering everybody’s everything and trying to get out the door on time. Hop to the car with a shoe in each hand. Give those babies a pop-tart and some milk and let ‘em eat it in the car. If its raining, get wet. If its cold, get a jacket. If you’re tired, go tired. But take those babies to church.
You know why? Because Jesus is there. He’s there. And He’ll meet them there. And you too, Mama. He’ll be there in the sweet smile of their Sunday School teacher as she greets them into their room. He’ll be there in the goldfish and the apple juice and the filling of their little bellies and hearts. He’ll be there in the hug from a sweet friend and the encouraging smile that assures you that they “just barely made it” too. He’ll be there in the sacred words read from the Bible speaking truth to their little impressionable hearts. He’ll be there in the worship and the raised hands and the watery eyes and whispers of praise.
So take them. Carry all of their Bibles and drawings and toilet paper tube creations. Sit by them in worship. Open your Bible and open theirs. Show them how to find the scripture the pastor is preaching from. Show them how to worship. Explain to them why He’s worthy of worship. Let them see you laugh and cry and praise and study. Forgive their wiggles and paper rustles and know that they’re listening even when it seems like they aren’t. Ask them questions and answer the ones they ask you. Introduce them to Jesus. Tell them of His greatness — his power — his faithfulness. Tell them with your words and show them with your life. Tell them what he’s done for you and how you’ve been changed by His grace and forgiveness and goodness and love. Tell them how they can be too. Point them to Jesus. Over and over and over again.
Take your kids to church. They’ll love it there. It’s the only place where they can go and just be themselves. They don’t have to “be” good enough or smart enough or athletic enough. They don’t have to perform for approval or achievement. They just get to go and hear how much God loves them. Just because they’re them. Just because He created them, they’re valued. Wanted. Their worth isn’t based on the grades they make or their ability to throw a curveball. Its not dependent on their performance or skill level. And they need a little more of that, don’t you think? A little more grace and a little less pressure. A little more love and a few less demands.
Take them to church. Before you take them to the ballfield or the gym. Before you take them on vacation or to grandma’s or to the backyard to play. Take them to church. Let them know its a priority. Show them it has eternal value. Let them see you set aside schedules and extra curricular activities and work and busy-ness to be present with the Lord in His house. I promise you won’t regret it. I promise you it won’t return back void.
Take them to church.
Thank you, Kathy, for all you did to raise our children in faith, for working with me to teach them about Jesus. Thank you for all you are now doing for our grandchildren. It’s important to take grandchildren to church too!