“I do what I do because I want what I want.”
Though not original to me, that axiom speaks for me. Chances are, it does for you, and perhaps for a vast majority of others too. Granted, there are legitimate situations where our hands are tied – figuratively or even literally – in which case, things aren’t so much a matter of choice. But at the heart of that statement is the truth that our actions flow from our most pressing desires, and at the most basic level, we are always making choices, whether consciously or not.
A God-Given Responsibility
“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deut. 6:6-9.
One of the primary responsibilities of Christian parents is the discipleship of their children – as they see to the physical wellbeing of their children, they are to be equally committed to their spiritual formation and growth. That is not to suggest that it is such an exclusive responsibility that it requires no external help or support; by all means, enroll your kids in Sunday school classes and summer camps, but the Bible is quite clear on where the buck stops.
Surely, God knows that parents have jobs to work, businesses to attend to, and a myriad of other obligations to fulfil, in addition to being parents. Yet, He requires this duty, and with diligence too! How could a busy parent possibly add one more item to a crammed to-do list? Is it even possible to disciple children amidst a busy schedule?
Well, maybe it wouldn’t seem so daunting if we embrace the instruction as a matter of ‘life discipleship’, where we seize the moment by looking for ways to incorporate the teaching of our faith into existing daily routines. Borrowing from the Prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 28:10), ‘a line here, another there; a precept here, another there’, so does a Christian parent’s job get done.
To be clear, this is no walk in the park, and it would require a fair bit of work and grit. Some days won’t be as easy as others, and enthusiasm for the cause will wax and wane.
So, when the going gets tough, what will keep us going?
What Do You Want?
The goal in discipleship is not to force children to conform to the standard of God’s law, but to help them love God’s standards in such a way that, given a choice, they naturally want to choose God’s way. With such a worthwhile goal in sight, what price could be too high to pay?
For some, it would be a case of redefining priorities to make time for what matters; for others it would be admitting your inability to offer what you yourself do not have, and seeking help; for others yet, it may be building on those ‘baby steps’ you’ve only just begun taking.
Whatever your peculiar circumstance, the starting point is the question of what our parenting is centered around, for it is that central goal that drives everything we do as parents.
Discipling children turns the expression ‘do as I say, not as I do’ on its head, simply because a parent’s disposition towards their own personal discipleship and spiritual growth sends a clearer message than any instruction they could possibly give.
Parenting coaches and experts may swear by pragmatic lists of dos and don’ts, but not until when what we want (our desires) changes, would what we do (our actions) change. Even so we pray; Lord, teach us to want in accordance to your will. Amen.
Sike Osinuga is a Christian woman learning the ropes of being a godly wife and mother, one wobbly step at a time. An erstwhile Telecoms Engineer, she enjoys reading good books and writing. Her passion is to know Christ and to make Him known. She blogs at http://www.thrivebytheword.com”