It seems my wife and I are raising a literalist.
The other night our family was socializing after church. As we talked, a blur of action caught our attention so we paused our conversation. Another adult in our group looked at one of my sons and asked, “Did you just kick your sister?” Without delay, my son replied matter-of-factly, “No… I swung my leg, but didn’t make contact.”
He’s a funny one.
Yes, my boy was right in regard to his physical action. However, if judged on intent his guilt has no defense. In that humorous moment I made a quick mental note. I, too, can be a literalist. Like when it comes to, “I’ll be there in a minute” or “I meant to put my clothes in the drawers.” Intention or action? This could get interesting.
Parents constantly wrestle with intentions and actions. My last post on this blog (Mini-Me) was filled with some raw reflection on being a dad. Raising little men and women is bruising work. But more than that, it’s colored with soul-stirring joy, pride, satisfaction and reward. Through the highs and lows, I need help. If you’re a parent, you do too. So, to fulfill my promise of last time, let’s get some parenting help from Deuteronomy 6. Here’s the small section we’ll consider:
“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. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:7–9, ESV)
Four words in these three verses are gold nuggets for parents. For now, we’ll mine just one: teach.
Teachers are influencers and equippers. They instruct, correct and guide. They shape and train. Develop. Teachers are knowledge gardeners.
It’s clear in Deuteronomy 6 that God intends for parents to be teachers. In the context of family, mom and dad are called to spiritually nourish the souls of their children. They are to teach the story of God. Celebrate His character. Engage His desires. Marvel at His plans. Through words, actions and attitudes, parents instruct their children. There’s not a moment when the activities of teaching and learning are not in motion.
Scared yet? Me too. The responsibility to teach our kids should foster a fearful humility before God. It should drive us to His Word. It should force us to our knees. It should cause our lips to beg God for the courage and perseverance to teach our children truth, with grace.
Parents don’t typically lack for good intentions. We want the best for our mini-me’s. But let’s follow-up our desires with intentionality. Let’s take action. Be teachers.
Let’s kick – and make contact.