Children need your time. This is getting painfully clear the older my kids get and the longer I work with teenagers. There are so many youth who are virtually on their own and it is difficult for them to make sense of things. Children don’t need to be set in a room with a television or put in front of a computer screen. They need actual time with adults because that is the only way they will be able to see what faith actually looks like in real life. Just because they live in the same house with you doesn’t mean that you are really investing in them. This is even true of people who don’t have children of their own because it is likely they have influence on people around them.
Children are important, not a nuisance. I know some people get queasy at the sight of a young child, but children are looking to adults for guidance. My children look to me for affirmation, direction and for answers to their questions. They want me to play with them, sit with them and just be there. I look at my children and wonder what challenges the world will throw at them and if they will be ready for them. I pray that with intentionality now, they will be better positioned to deal with whatever comes at them.
Do actions really speak louder than words?
They say actions speak louder than words, but I think that is only true if your words match your actions. It is true that kids will catch on to things by watching. That often goes both ways, though, as kids might be watching even at times you would rather they didn’t. If you tell them not to lie and then they catch you in a lie, well that’s awkward isn’t it?
In Deuteronomy 4, Moses is giving the people some instructions to help them stay on track. He takes extra care to describe to them how they are to teach their children.
“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things you eyes have seen or let them slip for your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” Deuteronomy 4:9
Just as they have seen and learned themselves, now they are to pass those things on to their children. In this case, they have seen the power of God as He came among them. They have experienced the work of God as they were led away from slavery in Egypt. These are things they are called to never forget. The children need to know how God was faithful to them and be encouraged to put Him first in all things.
In other words, Moses is letting the people know that their children are watching, so they need to not walk away from God. It is important to understand that the children around us will pick up on what is important to us based on how we live. My sons will imitate me by trying to fix things with their tools, creating office space and even putting hot sauce on their food. (that one is funny) My 2-year-old son will repeat the prayer at dinner in his own way. They will imitate reading their Bibles, even the younger kids who can’t read yet. This is special to me because is plants seeds of faith in them. They pick up on what we like by what we say, what we do and how we revere the name of Jesus Christ in our home. If the next generation is going to know Jesus, it is up to us adults to share Him with them.
What message are you sending?
This is important because parents are still the number one influencers of their kids. That means that if you are a lover of God and a lover of people, kids will notice that. I know I make every effort to let my kids see how they can serve others at their young age because I know that right now they are learning life long lessons. It is beneficial for them to know that the church is a place for them, not just for adults. Everyday my 4-year-old son gets up and asks the same question. “Is today church day?” He loves to be at church because that is where his friends are. When kids are there they need to be ministered to in such a way that they say, “this is my church.” Too many times adults are quick to dismiss children as noise makers or too rowdy. That is not the message to send.
The things we do with our time, show what we value. Will the children around us be able to see the supreme value of Jesus Christ actually lived in life?
In the story of Moses, he warns them to never let anything else come before God in their lives because it is devastating to the people.
“Be careful not to forget the covenant of the LORD your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the Lord your God has forbidden. For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” Deuteronomony 4:23-24
These people had seen God work among them and they were going to turn away and worship something man-made instead. This is especially dangerous for children who see the adults around them selfishly pursuing wealth or material possession instead of God. What are you teaching to the children who look up to you?
Is it too late?
The beauty of our God is that He is merciful. People need to turn back to Him and teach the next generation what it means to truly follow Jesus Christ.
“For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your forefathers, which he confirmed to them by oath.” Deuteronomy 4:31
“Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other.” Deuteronomy 4:40
That is the call for all of us, with or without children. You have people who are looking up to you right now. If you follow Jesus Christ, you need to live it loud and clear. Make it known by not only your words, but your actions that you love Jesus. I assure you the children are watching and will pay attention when adults around them wake up and get serious about investing in them. This investment is an eternal investment and needs to be handled with great care.
Do you have anyone who you looked up to as a child? Was there someone who was really helpful in teaching God’s Word to you? It could be a parent, but it might not be.