And, last time we examined Non-Negotiables #4: Your Spouse. In that vein, this time we will look at Non-Negotiable #5 – Your Children. For those of us who are parents, it is critical that we remember that our primary God-given responsibility is to our families – our spouse and our children if God has blessed us with them.
I like what the Kidologist, Karl Bastian, has to say about his son. He explains that he now has a ministry of one, and God is teaching him through that ministry. It is easy to let our ministry become the main thing in our lives. After all, we are doing the work of God, right? God is supposed to be the most important thing in our lives, so shouldn’t we exert our most energy in our ministry?
Well, the short answer is No! God’s order of creation reveals much about his plan for our lives. In the beginning, God! God is of utmost importance, and our lives should reflect that. We must jealously guard our time with him. The first relationship he created for humans, after their relationship with Him was marriage. Our marriages should be the most important thing following our relationship with God. We talked about that in our last installment Non-Negotiables #4: Your Spouse.
After marriage was created, God told Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply thereby making the parental relationship the third most important relationship in our lives. This is supported by passages like Deuteronomy 6 which lays out a parents responsibility to pass along spiritual truth to their kids. Only after we have tended to these primary three relationships should we invest remaining time and energy into our ministries. When this order of priority gets out of whack, it limits our ability to bring glory to God and impact others’ lives for the Kingdom of God.
So, what does prioritizing your children look like? There is a myth in our society that spending “quality time” with our kids is sufficient. I am convinced that this is a lie from the Father of Lies designed to allow us to further sink into the abyss of our busy lives and leave our kids without the time and emotional investment that they deserve from us. Kids need quality time to be sure. They need time where they have your complete focus. They need time to talk to you and know that you are actively listening to what they are saying. They need time where you make them feel special not by what you buy them but by giving them your most valuable resource – your time. They need all of that, but real quality comes in quantity. They need to know that you will always be there for them, and you demonstrate that by being there. By being there to pick them up, dust them off and point them to the cross when they fail. By being there to praise them and God when they succeed. And, by being there to teach them about the God who made them and saved them. Kids learn best by what they see modeled in their daily lives. You have to be there to model a godly life and walk with Christ on a daily basis.
Now, as a man, I have a special word for Dads. Your kids need YOU! Their mothers are great and a critical part of their development, but they need YOU! Men, your sons need to see how a godly man speaks, how he interacts with friends and how he treats a woman. Your sons need YOU to have those difficult discussions. He needs YOU to show him that being manly is not about what he sees on TV. He needs YOU to see how a leader leads though serving. He needs YOU to teach him how to love unconditionally. He needs YOU to make him feel safe and secure. He needs YOU to learn how to be a father when he grows up. He needs YOU to model our Heavenly Father’s love.
And, men, your daughters need YOU too. She needs to see YOU loving her mother. She needs YOU to demonstrate how the men in her life should treat her. She needs to know YOU will always be there. She needs YOU to show her unconditional love. She needs to know that YOU think she’s beautiful and that beauty comes from the inside not from some picture in a magazine. She needs YOU to model submission to her in your relationships with the authorities in your life. She needs YOU to model our Heavenly Father’s love.
So, go home and hug your kid tonight. Read your Bible to them and talk with them about how God is working in your life. Play a game. Laugh with them. Worship Jesus together. No matter what you have done in the past, start tonight to build a relationship, grounded in the truth and love of God, that will last for eternity.