If you caught Thursday’s post, I talked a little bit about the book and method of “Thinking Orange”. Basically, “thinking orange” is combining the two primary influences in a child’s life (family + church) in order to more effectively reach and teach kids about Christ. Today, I’m going to talk about the Five Family Values that can change the life of your child forever.
Family Value #1 Imagine the End
Ultimately, our goal as parents should be for our kids to love God above all else. When Moses was giving his farewell speech to the Israelites, he reminded them of what God had done and exhorted them not to walk away from the one true God. Sometimes as parents we’re so muddled down by the daily grind (feeding the kids, picking up their stuff, carting them everywhere, keeping up with homework, etc), that we forget the crucial question “Who do I really want them to become?”.
If you were to fast forward twenty years and look at who your child has become, what kind of characteristics would you want them to be demonstrating? Chances are, they are godly characteristics. If so, what are we doing today to cultivate that? (Check out The 10 Best Decisions Every Parent Can Make to help with this!)
Family Value #2 Fight for the Heart
Moses exhorts the people to: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength”. If we want to pass on a spiritual legacy to our children, it has to be done in the context of relationship. Rules and practices outside a framework of love for God end up becoming an empty and often offensive religion. Even explaining the reasons behind rules is not enough — reasons can be debated, but a trusted relationship cannot. The stronger your relationship with your child is, the easier it will be for them to build a true and lasting relationship with their Creator. Two resources you might find helpful in this arena are Parenting is Heart Work and Shepherding a Child’s Heart.
Family Value #3 Make it Personal
Before you can start to shape who you want your children to become, you have to examine your own heart. s parents, we are our child’s biggest role models. They imitate us, they look up to us, they reflect the attitudes and beliefs we communicate on a daily basis (even the unspoken ones!). It’s not enough to want your children to follow after Christ, as parents, we must begin and continue that journey myself. Michelle Anthony, author and family ministry expert, echoes this sentiment. She says,
“It’s like we want the kids to have a richer spiritual life than we have, and that just can’t happen.”
If we want our children to love and communicate with God, we need to be cultivating a living and active relationship with Him in our own lives first.
Reggie Joiner, author of Think Orange, says it this way:
“It’s a sobering thought that as a parent, the way I treat my spouse, the way I treat others, or respond in tough situations all affect the values my children develop. Let’s show our children that relational, emotional, and spiritual growth are priorities in our lives. If we don’t make a relationship with Christ personal, it might never be personal for our kids.”
Family Value #4 Create A Rhythm
So how do we create and nurture a personal relationship with Christ in the midst of the daily grind? The answer is found in the ancient wisdom of Deuteronomy 6:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
This passage highlight four key times that you can talk with your children about spiritual things. For further ideas on creating a space for spiritual conversations, check out the post Creating a Rhythm in Your Home. Another amazing resource is the blog Oh Amanda.
Family Value #5 Widen the Circle
When Moses delivered the message of Deuteronomy 6, he summoned all of Israel, implying that passing on a godly faith to the next generation is something the entire community should be engaged in.
Reggie Joiner sums it up this way,
“If you are a leader, Moses is suggesting that you recognize why it’s important to support the role of the family. If you are a parent, he is implying that the issue of your kids’ relationship with God is not your concern alone” (70).
Are there other adults in your life that you respect and who are demonstrating characteristics that you’d also like to see in your own children? Encourage a mentoring relationship! Even if it’s not a formal program, you can talk with your child about people in your life you admire and why. Ask them the same questions and talk with friends who can come alongside you in this journey of raising up children who love the Lord.