After the long 40-year Exodus out of Egypt and journey through the wilderness, the Israelites are about to enter the promised land. Moses is passing on his leadership position to Joshua, and so the nation of Israel is about to start a new chapter, with new goals and objectives, with a new leader. Joshua must have felt overwhelmed: How could he lead this whole nation, caring for them and guiding them and bringing them up the right way? Here’s what God told Joshua.
Deuteronomy 31:7-8 “Be strong and courageous… the Lord himself your God goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
What comfort does God give Joshua? I’m with you, every step of the way. You’re not going alone, Joshua. We’re in this together.
Brothers and sisters, especially you Christian parents. God has given you an amazing task: Bringing your children up in the Word of God, the Word of God that teaches us about Jesus our Saviour, the Word of God that creates faith, the Word of God that the Holy Spirit works through to bring us into the family of God. God has called you to be the leader of your children in this task.
And like Joshua, you’re going to feel overwhelmed. But God tells you just like he tells Joshua: The Lord himself goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you. He’s with you every step of the way. You’re not going alone on this task. You’re in this together with your God. So don’t be afraid or discouraged.
With that in mind, we’re going to be posting four videos over the next few days as a simple encouragement and to provide some principles and tips on how to bring your children up in the Word of God, that is, how to make learning the Bible a priority in your children’s lives.
In this first video, our encouragement is simple: You and whoever else you’re sharing your parenting responsibility with need to have a Unified Front
. What does it mean to have a unified front? It means if your children ask one parent if they can do something and then ask the other, they will get the same answer: No, you cannot eat cake for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A unified front means you both know what your non-negotiables are, the top priorities in your home, like the physical health and safety of your children. And make no mistake: If the two of you are not unified in what your priorities and non-negotiables are, or if you’re exhausted or stressed out or juggling tons of responsibilities and you and your spouse are not there to remind each other and encourage each other in your priorities, your kids will decide for you what the priorities are: cake for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
"So here’s the real question: Is your child’s faith, your child’s spiritual and eternal health and safety, a non-negotiable? And if it isn’t, how do we get back there, when our spiritual home-life seems to have de-railed from what we want it to be? Here a few thoughts for different situations:
- If you and your spouse are both Christians, then sit down, take five minutes, and talk about whether or not you both think this is a priority. It’s important that you both hear each other say: God’s Word is a priority for our children. Begin with asking whether or not the two of you are willing to do whatever it takes to help your kids get to heaven. That usually provides some good motivation. And then commit to watching the rest of these short videos together and then discussing afterwards what to do in your home.
- If you are a Christian and your spouse is not, then sit down with your spouse and tell your spouse that time in God’s Word is your priority with your child. Make that clear. And then tell your spouse: When you agreed to let me raise our children in the Christian faith, you were also agreeing to back me up in this parenting decision. Parenting is a unified effort. If you love and respect me and want to help me, you will actively support me in this. You don’t have to lead them in devotion, but you can encourage and support the decision that our children will be in God’s Word with me. See if you can have that conversation. Because ultimately, children learn from what they see. And if your child’s faith is a non-negotiable, then they need to see a unified front.
- If you’re a single parent, here’s a great opportunity to reach out to a mature, Christian friend or two and ask that friend to be a support to you. Tell that Christian friend: I want my children to spend time in God’s Word. Can you be a support and encouragement to me? When we talk, I’d like you to ask me often how that’s going and to support and encourage me in whatever way you can. And I think you’ll find your Christian friend would be honored to be a help to you in what’s definitely the greatest and most important job God has given you as a parent.
In our next videos we’ll get a bit more hands on on the actual task of growing your kids in God’s Word. But for now, think through having a unified front, and remember Joshua. God told him: “I’m with you. I’ll never leave you or forsake you.” Why would God never leave Joshua? Because Joshua was God’s child, and as his child, God had made his child’s salvation his priority. And it’s the same with you: God will never leave you or forsake you. Why? Because through Jesus, you are God’s child, and so your salvation is his priority. God died for you, rose for you, and now reigns for you. And getting your children to heaven is his priority too. You’re in this together with God himself.
Written by Pastor Luke Thompson and Christine Thompson