This weekend I set out to revise an old article on how parents can teach their children about God, thinking I’d post some things that worked when my kids were younger and add some new ideas for older kids/teens. But it dawned on me in the process of looking through my material that I’m not exactly sure I have those new ideas.
Frankly, we’ve been in a bit of a parenting slump, and we know it’s time to revamp our playbook for family spiritual growth. These kids of ours are asking for so much more than neatly-packaged family devotions and attending church services together. But it has seemed daunting, and so we’ve continued to let things drift.
But no longer.
What I ended up writing, then, was a letter asking our kids for forgiveness for how we’ve let things get stale and asking them to join us in making some changes. They gave me their blessing to share that letter with you.
There’s nothing quite like coming across a statement of strong conviction written years earlier and wondering if it’s still true. Or more accurately, knowing that it is still true, but wondering if I’m still letting it have priority in my life. This morning I came across a sentence I wrote awhile back: The single, greatest commission given to you as a parent is to teach your children God’s Word and to introduce them to the Lord Jesus Christ.
At my core, I know that statement is still a bedrock belief, but I confess that as you two moved up to high school and middle school last fall, as Dad took on new responsibilities at work, and as I became busy with my own schooling and ministry, Dad and I have become a bit detached from the process of deliberately studying God’s Word with you or frequently talking about our relationships with Jesus.
I’m not saying everything went on auto-pilot exactly, but I’ve been stirred up by a discussion we had a few weeks ago. It was that moment when we realized that though we’re busy with personal devotions, different Bible studies, and a multitude of church activities, we aren’t getting together nearly enough as a family to deeply discuss the Bible or our faith walks. I’m sorry.
This summer, that’s going to change, but Dad and I aren’t sure about the how-to part of it yet.
I am sure of this, though: today, the launch pad to your adulthood seems alarmingly close, especially right now as I look over at the broad shoulders of a certain 15-year-old working at the computer and hear a certain 12-year old rehearsing complicated dance steps for tomorrow’s recital.
I feel deep, sweet conviction. I feel like my sleepy eyes have been opened, and I’m full of joyful gratitude. I’m convinced that though the how-to must be adapted to this stage of life, the deliberate, Holy-Spirit-directed transmission of our faith is still the most important assignment Dad and I have ever had.
Heads up, though – this is not Mom and Dad cracking down and making you recite a list of Bible verses to us or something.
This is about our family fine-tuning how we operate as a building block of Christ’s world-wide church, “consider[ing] how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
I also know you two have much to share with us, and we would be wise to listen to what God is putting on your hearts. I recently read a quote that said, “There is no such thing as a ‘junior’ Holy Spirit.” We all have access to the same powerful, life-giving Spirit, no matter what age we are.
True, we have to grow up in our faith, learn to apply God’s Word, gain some wisdom, and share it with others.
However, the Holy Spirit, poured out at Pentecost after Christ’s resurrection, was in fulfillment of a promise, first made in the Old Testament through Joel and then expounded on by Peter in his first sermon:
In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. Acts 2:17-18
That is exciting to me! You two are joint heirs with us in that promise. And as you open your hearts to the power and fullness of the Holy Spirit right alongside Dad and me, God is going to use you to minister to this small unit of His church called the family as well as to others in your sphere of influence at school, in our local church, at summer camp, on your mission trips, and beyond.
I repent for not being more intentional about our spiritual growth as a family this year. But I also celebrate the huge amounts of growth I’ve seen in each of you as you’ve been intentional about reading God’s Word and spending time with His people. I’m excited to see where God takes our family this summer!
With much love,