When our kids were young, we cheered them on as they tried to walk. They might take a step or two and fall to the ground, but we applauded their efforts.
At some point they learned to walk.
If they were supposed to walk to school and ended up at the neighborhood bar for a couple of beers instead of the multiplication tables test, we did not applaud.
When they were old enough to pick up a baseball, we cheered when their arm moved and the ball went somewhere.
At some point, they learned to throw.
We didn’t cheer when they threw the ball over the fence to a cute girl when the play was at home.
Then came driving. We cheered when we survived the first lesson with our daughter. We cheered when she hit the brakes and stopped albeit 100 yards in advance of the stop sign.
We applauded when she somehow passed the driving test and was licensed.
But we didn't applaud when she was so into her text that she greeted the telephone pole head-on, fortunately at only 15 miles per hour.
As our children learn and grow, we applaud a wide range of efforts early on. As they mature and should acquire skill, we reinforce fewer and fewer choices.
You can’t aim for the band and hope to sink a basket. You must focus on putting the ball through the hoop.
We get that, well, sort of.
We start with a wide range of things that we reinforce as valuable or values in the lives of our children.
Positive first impressions.
Britches pulled up to the waist.
We define some parameters for good living, but sometimes we just leave out those which are most important.
Loving one another.
Being faithful to our Lord.
Desiring to be in right standing with God.
Trusting God over everything else we have learned in the world.
We would go crazy if our child aimed at the concession stand instead of the basket but we seem ok when they seem to be doing just fine by the rules of the world but we have not brought them up in the way of God.
The school seems happy.
The police are not knocking on the door.
They are not spending all night playing video games.
They don’t seem to be bad kids.
But can they answer the question, “Why are you living on this earth?”
What purpose does your life have?
Do you know what special gifts God placed inside of you?
How will you be a blessing to others?
These are not questions that our kids are likely to pose to themselves. Someone must prompt them.
That someone should be mom or dad.
More often it is the preacher or youth leader or maybe a good friend.
What are our kids and grandkids aiming at?
The popcorn machine?
They have no aim at all?
I love the picture of the two young tykes dressed up as adult farmers. One says to the other, “Ya ain’t got Jesus, ya ain’t got nothing.”
It really is just about that simple, but are we teaching and leading our children to know this?
Will we just let them roam through this life without a roadmap or compass?
Will we just hope they happen upon the King of Kings?
Will we just hope for the best?
Or will we be parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles who care enough to lead the next generation to Christ?
Who is leading our children now in our absence?
You know but don’t want to admit it. Our societal norms are not the norms of God. They are not God’s kingdom and his righteousness.
So if we do not lead our children to Christ, the world will lead them away from him.
Are you willing to accept that outcome?
Here’s the thing. We are promised that if we draw closer to God, he comes closer to us.
Here’s my corollary. If we are leading our children closer to God, God is getting closer to them as well.
If you were a part of bringing a child into this world or have taken custody of a child or have adopted a child, then you signed up for all three of these: parenting, leadership, and discipleship.
Point your child in the right direction.
Lead you child towards God.
Encourage your child as he or she draws nearer to God.
Bring up a child in the way he should go.
Bring up a child in the way she should go.
Walk with your child until he or she is your brother or sister in Christ.
This is the destination of parenting—to know your son as a brother in Christ.
This is how you know you have been on the right path—your daughter is now your sister in Christ.
Someone will lead them to be a brother or sister to Christ. We have enough ambassadors of Christ among us to find them and lead them to the Name that is above all names.
The question is will you be a brother and sister in Christ with your son or daughter, or will they reach this relationship and not know you?
At some point, we send our children into the world.
The question is, will we lead them to Christ first.
Don’t leave this most vital work exclusively in the hands of others.
Lead your children to Christ.
Lead them today and every day.