“Only be careful and watch yourself closely, so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” (Deuteronomy 4:9) 

Every one of us will stand before God and answer to Him on many counts. One will assuredly be our response as a parent, grandparent, or spiritual mentor to the scripture above. He will ask: “What life-giving knowledge of Me and My precepts did you instill in your children? What did you impress upon them?” 

And every one of us children who had the incredible privilege of living in a regenerate family, however imperfect, must also answer for our response to our own parents’ spiritual teaching. Will our children look at our lives one day and say, “I want to be like you when I grow up” Will they see us handle suffering and adversity with cheerful courage — especially single parents living in this “double world” who even when betrayed, abandoned, or heartlessly treated, trusted on?

It’s my experience that Christian parents don’t suddenly quit Christian parenting. It’s a slipping thing. A little slip of our spiritual disciplines here and there. A quitting of family prayer as schedules crowd out mealtimes or family times. A falling away of worshipping as a family or worshipping in the church at all. Putting sports or our own recreation first before serving our church. We don’t even realize the slippage is taking place. We must take responsibility for our own spiritual slippage.

What are our children seeing? Do they watch us parents dying inside because of some personal family pain or loss, or see us leaning hard on an unseen hand, finding special compassion, strength and enabling from our God? Do our offspring catch us in prayer, our face to the rising Son, not wanting to spoil the moment spent in forever listening to the seraph sing? Do they find us often with our Bible open, absorbed in gathering manna — soul food — impossible to live without? 

And, how will those of us, who by His grace have no heartache or wounds, be remembered when we are gone? What dependence on the God we profess to know will we have demonstrated? What attitude of gratitude? What statement of humility that acknowledges we could do nothing, be nothing, accomplish nothing, and possess nothing without His gifts of grace and blessing? Will our small watchers say of us, “We found them faithful”? 

Why not put it all — triumphs and failures, weaknesses and regrets, bad examples or models — where they all belong? At the foot of the cross and with our eye on the empty tomb, recommit to whatever calling we have clearly heard in this sober moment. We can profitably borrow John Mohr’s words:

Oh may all that come behind us find us faithful,
May the fires of our devotion light their way
May the footsteps that we leave,
Lead them to believe,
And the lives we live inspire them to obey;
Oh may all that come behind us find us faithful!

Why not spend some time in Proverbs 31:1-9? There is a sermon on this subject I just had the privilege of preaching. It’s a passage of scripture that has challenged me for years. It tells of a queen influencing her son, the prince, about his calling as a man of God and a future king. It tells of her heart and of her vows to bring up her child for the Lord and make him a king to be reckoned with in his generation. A king for good and for God. 

She tells him he is “the son of her vows,” mirroring the vows of Hannah in 1 Samuel 1, who vowed that if God graced her with a child she would lend him to the Lord for life. The young man here in Proverbs records his mother’s similar heartbeat for him: her love and prayers for him, and her righteous training.

We parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and Christian educators can all choose to bring our children up “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Of course we have to first know Him thoroughly ourselves and be serious about it. In this hard age of doubt and disbelief, with college-age kids leaving the faith of their fathers when they go to universities, we should all revisit our calling in this regard. Let’s pray for each other as we parent our children for God.

Blessings to you in the journey,
Jill Briscoe

If you are interested in more teaching on Christian parenting, you might like: