My 4 year old son started playing basketball for his first team sport experience. In the driveway playing by himself, he has pretty impressive shooting, defending, and dribbling skills for his age. However, get him on the court, and it's another story. He struggles to use his skills and pay attention to where the ball is at the same time. Most of the time, he is unaware of what's going on during the game.
Here's the point: Awareness of your role is just as important as having the skills to carry it out. I wonder how many parents are unaware that they are called to be the lead faith trainers in their children’s lives.
If we are going to raise up a generation of children who transform the world by living out their faith in schools, neighborhoods, work and communities, we must be aware of our call as parents to be the lead faith trainers. It's our job to take the lead in communicating and living out our faith in Jesus Christ.
To start, our effectiveness in this role depends on our personal relationship with Jesus. This is not a job you can hand to your youth pastor or senior pastor. Being the lead faith trainer takes focus and time. Even though this is a huge calling, God will supply all your needs. You have what it takes to be the lead faith trainer of your family.
Even the busiest parents can be effective by taking advantage of some key moments in each day. These key moments are found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9. In this passage, Moses is speaking to Hebrew families that are about to enter the Promised Land. He knows the land is full of provision, and it will be easy for families to be tempted to depend on their own effort and forget to depend upon The Lord. Below is what God has to say to families of the past, present and future.
4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Based on this passage, these are 5 practical ideas you as a parent can implement to make the most out of the time you have with your children.
1. Be the Model
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might."
As parents, we are to model a life of faith in Jesus Christ. We have all heard "more is taught than caught." It is impossible to give what you don’t have. We are to live in such a way that our children see us relying on the Lord, going to God in prayer, and opening up His Word every single day. This is the most powerful tool in your parenting tool kit.
2. Take Advantage of Meal Times
"when you sit in your house"
Make mealtimes count. There are few times in a day when technology is off, and everyone is together around the table. Use this time wisely to invest in your children. There are a few things we do at each meal we share together. Try these or come up with your own:
1) We pray and give thanks to God.
2) We catch up on sports and/or school.
3) Everyone shares five things that they are grateful for.
Don’t beat yourself up if you miss meals together occasionally, but do try to gather the family together for a meal at least a couple times a week.
3. Make the Most of Travel Time
"when you walk by the way"
Not many of us walk to work, but most of us drive with our families to school, sports, or other events. I think drive time gives us a unique opportunity to build relationships. Challenge yourself to turn off the radio and listen to your children. Sometimes kids are more open in a car than they are at home. When given the opportunity, make sure to speak God’s Word into the situation or circumstance they may be going through.
4. Waking Up in the Morning
"when you rise"
I believe there is no greater time to instill purpose in your family than in the morning as they rise. Remind them that they are children of God, and He has an awesome plan and purpose for their lives. Remind them that God is bigger than anything they will face that day whether at school or other environments.
5. Before Going to Bed at Night
"when you lie down"
Ending the day well will help set up the next day for success. Each night, my wife, Christin, and I open God’s Word and pray with our children. We always try to relate what we read to their lives.
Don’t get me wrong, Christin and I mess up at this parenting thing at least once a day, and we are still relatively new parents. My heart here is to encourage even the busiest parents. It is important to spend time with our kids. More than that though, we must understand the role we have as the lead faith trainers and use our time wisely to invest in our children.