Originally written for Shepherd of the Ridge Lutheran Church, apply these ideas to your local context.
Image by loswl via Flickr
As I write this, school is about to begin. Every store in town has pencils on sale, and they’re flying off the shelves almost as fast as employees stock them. We as citizens, parents, and members of our community put a lot of emphasis on education. We want good schools, and Cleveland’s recent poor school ratings upset a lot of people, but why do we place such importance on school quality? For many, the quality of a child’s education determines that child’s future, or at least places a significant impact on it. We know that and want the best for our children and for the future of our nation and the world, and we know that, the sharper we hone their minds, the more they’ll potentially accomplish throughout their lives. So why then do we place such little emphasis on spiritual education? Earthly education has undeniable importance, but spiritual education has eternal consequence. The Word of God is the only weapon that will fend off the devil’s attacks, but if we don’t train our children to use this weapon, they will be defenseless when the attacks come. To help parents, we offer the Divine Service, Sunday School, Confirmation Class, and other educational opportunities, but ultimately, the responsibility rests in parents’ hands. Assuming you want your child to remain in the faith until meeting Jesus on the Last Day, here are some simple parenting tips to help make that happen:
- Model the Christian life: Show your children that living as a forgiven child of God impacts every aspect of life by doing what you can to help those God has placed in your life.
- Show them Christ’s forgiveness: By His death, Jesus has forgiven all your sins. Show everyone that you believe in that forgiveness by forgiving others, because God has already forgiven them. When someone apologizes to you, instead of saying, “It’s OK” or something similar, say, “Your forgiven” (and mean it).
- Remember the Sabbath Day: Too many people understand this to mean “go to church once a week,” and while that’s included in this command, it doesn’t stop there. God gives us His love every day, so return that love by hearing His life-giving message at every opportunity through personal devotions and Bible reading in addition to study with others that you may grow from their insights. Spend family time discussing God’s Word and how it applies to the situations in their lives. When you see good examples, point them out.
Remember that we live in a fallen world, so sometimes, even the perfect parents will see a child wander from the faith due to circumstances beyond their control, and other times, by God’s grace, the children of atheist parents become Christians, so none of these guarantee anything, but know that God loves your children, grandchildren, Godchildren, and all children and will continue to reach out to them through means beyond our expectations to keep them with Him forever, so rest assured that you are not alone in your efforts. God Himself is with you in your task.