Big Picture

Parents’ Role as Spiritual Leaders

May 6, 2024 | Message from Jeremiah

It has been said that children are shadows of their parents. This means that both what you teach and how you live are reflected in the lives of your children. Whether it is a positive or negative influence, children will imitate you without realizing it. This affects their entire life. Being a parent is an incredible privilege and a frightening responsibility.

Children are in our homes for the plan God wants to accomplish through them. Not a single child comes into this world by accident. Children are not our property; they belong to God. He designed them and brought them into existence. The Psalmist confesses, “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:16).

Children are born into the world to live for God and fulfill His will. God trusted you and chose your family out of all the families in the world. “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD . . .” (Psalm 127:3). It is a privilege to be part of God’s work by raising children for Him. As parents, we must remember that our children are entrusted to us to fulfill God’s dreams—not our own, and to discover what God wants to accomplish through them, then to help them do it.

Childhood is an incredibly important time. Children are growing physically as well as mentally and spiritually. Everything they see, hear, learn, and experience in childhood affects the rest of their lives. It affects their character, their choices, and eventually the direction of their lives. That’s why God says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). It’s true. If there is something that needs to be taught to a child, it should be taught at a young age because it is easier, more effective, and will have a longer-lasting impact. The most important place for children to learn is in the home and the best teachers are the parents. Children learn the most important lessons and values that will impact their entire lives from their parents. It is said that the best school in the world is the school at the mother’s knees, where children are taught the most important life lessons. Whatever we do in front of children, they will learn and repeat it, whether or not we want them to.

One evening, I noticed my young daughters imitating the way I talked to them or the way I disciplined them. It kept me awake that night, and I repented. I realized the incredible privilege and responsibility it is to be a parent. I could not help but get down on my knees in front of them early the next morning and ask for their forgiveness for the way I had failed them as a father. I felt the desperate need to be a more mature and influential father.

Parents are to be the spiritual leaders in the home. As fathers and mothers who have been granted this great responsibility, we must spiritually guide the precious children entrusted to us by God so His plan for them can be fulfilled. Home is the best place for discipleship. The Bible says, “. . . for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed” (1 Samuel 2:30). If we teach our children to fear God, they will allow Him to rule their entire lives.

There is no better discipleship than by example. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 commands parents to first love God and set God’s Word in their hearts. They are to diligently teach their children about the God they love and His Word. Parents are to fear the Lord and model this with their children. It is a powerful message for children to see their parents meditate on God’s Word and kneel in prayer. In most cases, children will follow in their parents’ footsteps. My children used to bring me five or six picture Bibles every evening for me to read to them, even though I was tired from a long day of work. Whenever we went to the mission field, I would hold their hands and pray with them. Now our girls are young adults, and when I travel for the ministry, they ask to pray for me. When our family had important decisions to make, we gathered with our children to discuss the situation and make a decision—not chasing after our own interests or preferences but seeking the will of the Lord together. This allowed our daughters to see what my wife and I valued and helped them set priorities in their own lives.

We may accomplish a lot in the eyes of the world, but if we neglect teaching our children about God, we fail to uphold what God clearly prioritized. Although the Israelites successfully claimed the Promised Land, they failed to instill in their children a love for God. This resulted in the next generation not knowing the Lord or what He had done for Israel. They did evil and worshiped false gods. The wrath of God followed them wherever they went. We must not commit these same sins.

More important than teaching your children to be well-mannered, you must teach them they are sinners and lead them to accept Jesus Christ as Savior. Only then can they begin to grow spiritually, learn to appreciate God’s grace, and live in the fear of the Lord.

Parents are partners in God’s work of creation. He entrusts to them the precious lives of their children. When parents raise children according to God’s will, they can look to God to fulfill His plan throughout the children’s lives. No one is born a great leader; rather everyone is born a weak baby. But their future is guided by the people who lead them.

Children are growing up in your home. What an incredible privilege and great mission! But our window of influence is short, and we must use this precious time wisely to impact them as their spiritual leaders. From the mother Jochebed came the godly man of faith, Moses. From the mother Hannah came the godly man of prayer, Samuel. Now it is your turn.

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