I'm having difficulty teaching my 1 year old dog any tricks, much less an old one. The point of this overly used cliche is that once a certain way in ingrained in someone, it is difficult to change that person. Our responsibility as parents is to start training a child immediately! If a parent is waiting until that child can talk or walk to begin training, that parent is way too late. We need to begin training our children the Word of God. It seems so easy for us as parents to communicate with our children vain things such as sports, games, hobbies, and even household chores. We have no problem, even find such joy, in teaching our son how to properly throw a football, or shoot a free throw, or to lay down a perfect bunt. Yet, we struggle to talk to our sons about what they prayed for this week, or what they learned from the Bible in their studies yesterday.
Parents, we need to forget what the world is telling us, and get busy instructing our children in the things of God. Why? Because the fact is that if our children don't have a walk with the Lord, don't know how to read their Bible, don't know how to pray to God...and do these things consistently by the time they are teens-they probably never will. Train them while they are young!
I grow weary of hearing parents say, "They can't understand." I have encouraged parents in our church to no longer send their children to Jr. Church on Sundays, but to bring them in the church service with them. Some say, "They need to be in a place where the preaching is on their level," or "they will get more out of Jr. Church than the auditorium." Yet, they buy them the same video game strategy guide book that adults use, they can't figure out why they won't grow up and act right (spending all their time around peers their age), and why they can't sit still on Sunday nights in church. The Bible again never mandates our children surround themselves with peers their age (matter of a fact, it warns against it), rather, it teaches them to learn from the aged (Titus 2).
Proverbs 4 reads,
Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding.
For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law.
For I was my father's son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother.
He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live.
Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth.
Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee.
Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.
Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her.
She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.
Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many.
I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths.
When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble. Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life.
Here, the father, is taking responsibility to see that the son is instructed in the things of God, understands the importance of God's Word, and realizes the rewards for living in accordance to It. I need to be a father like that! I need to be a father who can say "I have taught thee in the way of wisdom." We have enough Christian fathers who can say, "I have taught thee to build a tree house," "I have taught thee to throw a spiral," "I have taught thee to block out and rebound." We need fathers who will teach their children to love, desire, and rest in the Word of God. Instead, our young people answer the following:
How often do you read the Bible and pray in a day?
A: Pretty Much Never 40%
B: 5 minutes a day 23%
C: 10 or more minutes a day 37%
Praise the Lord for those who seemingly have that walk with God, but unless things improve vastly, our churches and the moving power of God through their lives in the days ahead is in much danger.
I believe the number one reason why we struggle to communicate with our children spiritual things and we do not rear teens that have a consistent walk with the Lord is because we as parents do not. We must first allow the Lord to minister to us before we can minister to our children. It is not the Christian School's responsibility to rear our children, nor the youth pastor, or Sunday school teacher's; it is ours the parents.
We must realize that their is a difference between spiritual instruction and exposure. Most parents believe that since they send their kids to the Baptist School, take them to church, see that memorize their Bible verse for that week-that everything will be o.k. All we are doing is exposing our young people to the Word of God. The Book of Proverbs uses the word "instruction" 25 times, including verse 1 above. We must not expose our children to spiritual things, but instruct them in it.
This instruction must begin as a child. Teach your pre-schoolers the stories of the Bible. Have your elementary students read and discuss with them the Word of God. See that they establish a prayer life before age 13. Determine that your walk with God and fellowship with Him be an example for your child. See to it that your child realizes the importance of God's Word and create in them a desire for the things of God. It sure is difficult to teach an old dog new tricks; may we endeavor that our children learn the right path from the very start:
Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth.