Another school year is nearly at an end. I love it when we bring on the summer around here! It’s impossible to say what the best part of living at Strong Rock is, seeing excited and happy faces all day, watching confidence develop, participating in one fun thing after another, or being a part of an assembly whose sole reason for existing is to help kids develop a close walk with their Creator and Savior. I suppose my favorite thing has to be that last one on the list. There is nothing more important than showing kids how to “walk the walk.” We’re setting them up for a wealth of blessings both here and for eternity when we make this our most important task as parents.
I recently finished a study at church with a group of women called “Ever After, Life Lessons Learned in My Castle of Chaos.” The author’s name is Vicki Courtney. The study pretty much covers the gamut of topics women/wives/moms face, and one chapter contains a message that cannot go ignored by us parents. It is in reference to Deuteronomy 6:1-9 where God tells His people to teach His decrees to their children. Vicki Courtney says:
“God did not say, ‘Teach your children how to balance living in the world and loving God simultaneously.’ He did not command parents to rear culturally acceptable and likable children who would be voted most likely to succeed. He did not tell them to teach their children over and over the importance of getting good grades in school. He commanded parents to teach their children to love God. With full force. The command against adultery isn’t top priority. Neither is tithing or telling the truth. It wasn’t even a command to remain pure until marriage. Why not? Because when you teach a child to love God above everything else- above people, above prestige, above boyfriends or girlfriends, above GPAs and SAT scores- then the rest falls into place.”
This is our sole responsibility as parents, stewards of these little people who grow up to be big people. It isn’t an easy task, but such an important one. The above quote really resonated with me. It makes me pause and think about what we are doing as a family. What activities are the kids involved in, and how do they help or hinder in the building of their faith? Are we so busy doing good things that there’s no time left to do this greatest thing- teaching them to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with their God,” as Micah 6:8 says?
The summer is a busy time for our family (and likely yours, too), but it’s also a great time to re-evaluate my family’s schedule before we head into another school year. Sports are awesome. We just finished another season of soccer. There were some evenings, though, that by the time we got home and got everyone clean and fed we had to cram in our family devotion time, or skip it altogether. Thankfully we have yet to play a sport that demands time on Sunday. I teach fourth grade Sunday School at church and there are some kids who attend very sporadically because of Sunday games. Do you have to attend church every Sunday to be a Christian with a growing walk with Christ? No. I do believe we have to consider the message it might send to our extremely impressionable mini-me’s, though.
Dr. James Dobson describes the way Americans stay so busy, and how they keep their families constantly on the go, as “routine panic.” We feel like if we aren’t living this way we’re not normal! It’s really tempting to feel like it is not a choice. I was talking with a friend recently who was afraid she had done her nine-year old a disservice by not starting him in football when he was five, since he’s now sitting the bench more than the others who started earlier. Another mom said it was too bad her kids didn’t have time to learn their Bible verses for the AWANA program their kids were in at church, they were just so busy with everything else. I am not standing in judgement. These are just situations that gave me pause, and even convicted me of what I am placing priority on with my own kids.
I believe Vicki Courtney’s quote hits the nail on the head. Teaching a child to love God above all else makes the other things fall into place. If a person wants to do things God’s way because they love Him above everything else, every decision they make will line up under that priority. Even if they don’t learn anything else from us, we should internalize that this is the biggest responsibility we have as parents.
Strong Rock is a great place for intentional parents to send their kids as a compliment to what is being taught at home. Pointing kids to the Lord is the sole reason this camp exists. We take this responsibility seriously. I often think about Luke 17:2. “Suppose people lead one of these little ones to sin. It would be better for those people to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck.” I used to think this verse was just talking about people who were blatantly committing injustices or crimes against children. It’s now one I also consider when parenting every day. It doesn’t take much to “lead a little one to sin.” We can send them down a sinful path simply by doing nothing at all! I likewise think about it when we’re training staff for camp. We want to handle God’s word and truths correctly when teaching campers.
I promise to encourage all of you out there in your parenting journey, if you will likewise encourage and remind me to put first things first! Camp is just around the corner, and we are very much looking forward to spending time with your camper. Happy end of the school year!