Who Will Your Child Worship?
It is imperative that we be clear on this issue. Teaching is not just providing good input. It is not just creating a constructive atmosphere and positive interaction between a child and yourself. There is another dimension. The child is interacting with the living God. He is either worshipping and serving and growing in understanding of the implications of who God is or he is seeking to make sense of life without a relationship with God.
If he is living as a fool who says in his heart there is no God, such a person doesn’t cease to be a worshipper, he simply worships what is not God.
Your task as a parent is to shepherd your children as creatures who worship and to point them to the One who is alone worthy of their worship. Your task as a Children’s Ministry Leader is to assist parents in shepherding their children. The question is not, will he worship. It is always, who or what will he worship.
Most child-rearing books are written to help you do the best possible job. All the tips and creative ideas are addressed toward producing the best, most biblically consistent shaping influences in the hope that the child will respond and turn out OK. What we want to do is not only set forth some ideas about biblical structures for life, we want to set forth some approaches to shepherding the child’s heart. We need to engage in hand to hand combat on the world’s smallest battlefield–the child’s heart. We need to engage our children as creatures made in the image of God. They can only be fulfilled and happy as they know and serve the living God.
The task we undertake is always concerned with both issues–creating biblical, consistent shaping influences and shepherding the heart. We want to provide the best possible shaping influences for our children. We want the structure of our homes and classrooms to furnish the stability and security they need. We want the quality of relationships in our classrooms to reflect the grace of God and the mercy of God for failing sinners. We want the discipline meted out to be appropriate and to show the severity of a holy God toward sin. We want to control the flow of activities so that it is never a chaotic, but rather a well-structured class. We want to provide a healthy, constructive atmosphere for our children.
When all is said and done, those things as important as they are, will never be the total story. Our children are not just a product of those shaping influences. They are interacting with all these things. They are interacting according to the nature of the covenantal choices they are making. Either they are responding to the goodness and mercy of God in faith or they are responding in unbelief. Either they are growing to love and trust the living God, or they are turning more fully to various forms of idolatry and self-reliance. The story is not just the nature of the shaping influences of their lives, but how they have responded to God in the context of those shaping influences.
Some Things to Think About
1. What do you think is the orientation of your children? Are their lives and responses organized around God as a Father, Shepherd, Lord or Sovereign King? Or do you see them living for some sort of pleasure, approval, acceptance or some other false god?
2. How can you correct your family’s focus?
3. How can you design winsome and attractive ways of challenging the idolatry you may see within your child?
4. How can you help your child see how he is investing himself in things which cannot satisfy?
Adapted from Shepherding the Child’s Heart by Ted Tripp