This is Day 13 in a 31 day series on Teaching Toddlers Theology. To catch up on where we've been, or view our menu of posts, go to this intro post.
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I'm very excited to have my husband share again from a dad's perspective on this topic of spiritually training and investing in our young kids. This important job of purposeful parenting should be a team effort and we want to discuss this aspect again today!
Here's my sweet hubby, Tim:
Unfortunately, a lot of dad’s are not engaged in the active teaching of their kids when it comes to spiritual things. They are more than willing to pass along hunting techniques, fishing spots and a love for sports. I’m not here to guess at the reasons for this being the case but I do want to address the topic of how to get them involved. **Note: I do not intend to overgeneralize the fact that there are just men that are disengaged, I know that women are too. I’m writing this from the angle of dad, father, and man. These same principles apply in the opposite direction, too. If you are a dad reading this and in a situation where your wife is disengaged, then don’t be discouraged!
The following passage of Scripture is most instructive for this scenario. In its strictest interpretation, it answers the question, “If I’m married to someone who is unsaved am I free to get a divorce?” However, it also has something to say about our marriages and the future of our children. I want to take to mind the bigger principles at stake here. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians:
But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife? -- 1Cor. 7:12-16 (NKJV)
Here’s what I’d like to extract from these verses:
- In a situation where one parent is engaged with spiritual things and the other is not, the parent that is engaged should patiently endure for the sake of their spouse and kids.
- A spouse that is living for the Lord is a redeeming influence on his/her household.
- The children are set apart (holy) unto the Lord when one spouse remains faithful.
- You never know the result of your patience endurance in setting of this type.
Now let’s further narrow this to the topic at hand. If your spouse is spiritually disengaged, here’s what I’d suggest your course of action be:
- Pray like crazy. If we are honest with ourselves, only God can warm the heart of a cold spouse towards spiritual things. Our manipulation and guilt trips cannot produce any lasting change, and frankly will make things worse in the end.
- Let your faith be as evident to your spouse as you want it to be to your kids. Don't think that your spouse isn’t looking for inconsistencies in what you say and what you practice. Don’t be overbearing or fake, be genuine. This means having a visible personal time with the Lord, ever growing evidence of the fruit of the Spirit, and talking about the things of the Lord as the days go by.
- Don’t pit your kids versus your spouse.
- Stick with it for the long haul. Training your kids to follow God is a long term commitment, so is patiently praying for your spouse and waiting for the Lord to work in their heart.
Let me end with a story from my own family. My great grandma was married to a whiskey drinking, cigar smoking, stone mason. He was abusive and mean to her from everything I’ve ever heard. My great grandma was a faithful and patient wife who loved the Lord. She worked hard to raise my grandma to love and cherish the things of the Lord. It was only near the final weeks of his life that my great grandpa accepted Christ as Savior and I have no doubt that it was the patient and enduring prayers of my great grandma that the Lord used to finally soften his tough heart. My grandma is living proof that a child raised where only one parent is spiritually engaged can grow to love and follow the Lord. She raised three boys who all are loving and serving the Lord and now has many grand kids doing the same. It can be done and when it is, God blesses the faithfulness of moms and dads raising their kids to love and fear God.