The Kingdom is righteousness, peace, and joy, yet one of the biggest reasons why Sunday school leaders have a hard time finding volunteers is because adults are uncomfortable with JOY. Teach parents how to be restored to joy, and they will be drawn to those who carry child-like joy!
Your child is hungry to learn and hear your personal stories. Your journey will shape them significantly, and your story’s chapters will be valuable to them. Share with them your experiences as it relates to their world. Tell them about a time you dealt with or struggled with the same thing they are walking through. Share with them what you have learned through your own mistakes. Tell them about your God encounters and what Jesus has said to you. You are not their royal emperor dictating from a throne. You are their parent – empowering, equipping, and leading them face-to-face.
I feel a strong stirring in my spirit that we all need to do our part to ‘clear the air’ in the spiritual realm. Who do you need to forgive? Make things right with? Let go of offense? Believe the best? Ask for forgiveness? Repent of judgments? Confess slander? Call a family meeting and walk this out together.
In doing this, we begin to clear the spiritual air and allow ourselves to get the fresh air our spirit needs to be healthy.
I am deeply convicted about this hour of refinement for the Church. As a friend and out of care for your heart, I ask:
- Are you drinking deep from God’s word?
- Is there any part of your heart that needs to be seen or heard and not ignored?
- Who do you need to forgive?
- Is Jesus getting your best or leftovers?
- What needs to be addressed or come into alignment with your children/spouse?
We are in this for the long haul, and I care enough to ask, as we all need little heart checks!
Don’t refuse the message just because you don’t like the delivery of the messenger. So often, children botch the delivery of what they are trying to tell you. They do it with anger, attitudes, imperfection, and less-than-mature ways, but it doesn’t mean that WHAT they are trying to say is to be ignored. This is one of the reasons why we wrote our HEART SPLINTERS book. To give parents additional help in seeing and hearing what their children are trying to tell them.
Character matters because it matters to heaven. The Word is loaded with commands on the way we should be conducting ourselves, and children need opportunities to grow in self-control, discipline, and character.
Years ago, we were traveling as a family and arrived at our hotel late but had a super early am flight. Within minutes, our hotel room was trashed; stuff everywhere, covers all over the place, trash on the floor, towels all over, etc. I called the kids in and asked how we would feel if we walked into our hotel room like that. Would we want to stay here? Not really! I told them that the housekeeping staff is paid to make it look nice for the next person. It’s their job. No matter how big of a mess we make, they have to clean it. I then asked them, “But is that what we WANT to do?” Do we want to be known as yet one more dirty, messy room, or do we want to be known for the mysterious family that blessed her socks off when she opened yet one more room to clean? Since that defining moment in our family, at every hotel we have stayed at, the kids have gathered the trash in one spot and piled dirty towels together, they ask Jesus what He wants to say to the maids and place notes with $1 bills around the room for her. It isn’t always about our ‘rights’ but about having the character to lay down our rights in order to be a blessing to others. This was a defining moment in our family, deciding who we wanted to be as a unit. In order to be who we are called to be, we had to reject the norm and march to our own drum. Every family has an identity. Ask yourself: “What matters to me? How do I want people to experience us? What is the greatest way we can impact the world around us as a family? What will we stand for?”
Testimony from a mom taking our online Kingdom parenting class: “I never thought of teaching them this young. I’m inspired as I know it would be so good for them. Let’s see what Holy Spirit does. I’m determined not to plan the outcome.”
What I LOVE about her response is that she went into it full of faith that Holy Spirit would show up and do His part and that she didn’t need to control or force the outcome. This is a perfect recipe for God to show up in our living rooms. #1. An intentional parent willing to teach their child. #2. Have faith that He cares more about encountering the child than you do! #3. Willingness to go with the flow and give Him room to move.
We want to model our home after His and allow our children to taste and see that His ways are good so that when they are older, they will not be enticed by what the world has to offer them. I am not talking about legalistic head knowledge of ‘thou shall not’ but the ability to experience it as part of their own journey. Let me give you some practical examples.
Stealing – God says do not steal. When we set up our homes with a value system for not stealing, we are teaching our children that God’s ways work. To steal means to open yourself up for discipline, consequences, and broken trust. We are allowing them to taste and see that God’s ways work. We give them the message, “It isn’t going well for you because you have chosen something outside of God’s protection for you, i.e., stealing.” To ask for something and be denied is hard on the flesh, but as children learn to accept the ‘no’ answers in life it builds character, which will profit them for a lifetime. We don’t punish our children because they chose something outside of God’s best, we use it as a teachable moment to show them why it is important not to steal. (Not saying consequences aren’t warranted, I am saying we don’t want to use Biblical standards for our children and then punish them for not honoring it).
Respect – God says honor your mother and father. When we set up our homes to reflect a core value of honoring authority, we are providing for them covering and protection. This is showing them the beauty of God’s Kingdom. When we allow our children to walk all over us and be rude and disrespectful, we are subjecting them to insecurity, lack of favor and broken connection. They will experience God’s Kingdom by being taught to walk in respect and honor for those in authority over them. Once the twins started high school, they witnessed things they didn’t see in their Christian school. Naturally, I was concerned how this would affect them but because I built a foundation around their identity, we continued to use it as a teachable moment. One day my daughter came home and said, “Mom, I always knew you told us why it was important to walk in who we are, but today I saw with my own eyes what it looks like to have a life not knowing who you are.” Another time she came home really hurt by someone who acted like a true spiritual orphan. She understood the hurt was stemming from them not knowing Jesus and went in her room and wept for them. She spent nearly two hours in her room praying, crying and journaling. When she came out, she said, “Mom, I have got to have more of Jesus. I couldn’t imagine a life without Him.”
Does our parenting model heaven? Think about it – spankings, punish, taking away favorite possessions, isolation, harsh words spoken, exasperated parents… Could there be a better way? God is our perfect Father and knows how to run a family well. Is our parenting modeled to look like heaven? Does God give us three warnings and we are out? Does God spank us and then just leave us to deal with our mess? Does God isolate us when what we really need is enlightenment, understanding or better tools? Is He mad at us when we are acting out the hurt and pain in our heart? Is overwhelmed by our needs? Please hear my heart. I am NOT saying discipline, spankings, or time alone can’t be a valuable tool. I AM saying that when those are the ONLY tools in our parenting tool belt, we might be missing the mark. If it is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance, could it be some of our control-based parenting tools aren’t bearing good fruit simply because we aren’t modeling it after God’s Kingdom?
The goal is not to use spiritual tools to ‘fix’ our children. The goal is to lead our children to an encounter with their Father!
Your children are knit together in His image but with you in mind. Who can relate to this mom’s journey?
“This was definitely a deeply emotional lesson. Lots to pray over and be still and quiet to let Holy Spirit speak and to let the Lord heal. But this lesson hit me to my core – I absolutely know that the Lord sovereignly entrusts us with the specific children He has planned for us to have – and for us to be their parents. Our Father does not make mistakes, and ‘random’ is not of His character. And I can very clearly see exactly what the Lord wants to teach me through each of my children and their unique personalities… but I needed this reminder, as I had lost sight of it. It’s such a beautiful picture when you keep this wisdom at the forefront. These children are gifts that the Lord has sent to grow me and to draw me closer to Him.”
May I make a suggestion? When your child is doing something that you feel isn’t wise, google Scriptures around that topic and then instruct them, “I would like for you to look up (verse) and come talk to me about what you think.” My teens have been more convicted on their own by reading the Word than my lectures.