My wife and I have seven kids. We are often, for one, feeling like we want to do better. I think a lot of parents feel that. Two, we are thinking and praying and wrestling with how we can teach our children about God. We are thinking on a practical level: what do we read at the dinner table and pray with them before bedtime? What are some good books or catechisms or songs that we want to do? Sort of the formal aspects of discipleship or family worship. I am also thinking it in a bigger picture way.
All those things are really important, but I think just as important are the things that we don’t think about such as the ways in which we are reinforcing all of the unwritten, unspoken habits of the heart. I think of two things in particular, which should be obvious but maybe aren’t: One, you take your kids to worship. Then they’re in the worship service. Yes, churches have different ways of doing it and you may wonder about the ages of the kids who are in the service, but I would just say that as soon as they’re able and they’re ready, you want them to be in that service. They can see mom and dad worshipping. They can see what grandmas and grandpas look like worshipping. There’s just no exaggerating the importance of children singing those songs and hearing those prayers. Even when they may not be able to understand what it is, they’re still there and they’re picking up that liturgy—literally that liturgy.The most important thing we can do for our kids is to show that mom and dad are walking with God.
The second thing, maybe the most important thing in teaching our kids about God, is that we’re walking with God. The worst thing—slight exaggeration perhaps—we can do for our kids is to set a very high standard for them and live by a very low standard for us. That is the recipe to make people who hate the church, people who think the church is full of hypocrites, and people who go often and leave the faith, because they heard mom and dad say one thing and they saw mom and dad do another thing.
I think the most important thing we can do for our kids is to show that mom and dad are walking with God, to show them a real vibrant relationship with Christ, to show mom and dad sitting in their chair at their desk reading the Bible, to know that mom and dad have to repent of sins, and to know that mom and dad need help and pray. That, I think, are the best things that we can show and teach our kids about God by them knowing that we are passionately pursuing God ourselves.