“The days are long but the years are short.” If you are parenting young children now, you may feel that short years are mythical, but most parents soon realize that time really does fly. It seems that before you know it, your little ones are taller than you and spreading their wings, eager to be independent. How can we make the most of those years when we have the precious opportunity to influence children in a lasting way?
As always, God’s plan is perfect. God plans for parents to be the primary spiritual guides of their children. He has planned for parents to teach their children the truths of scripture and to help them know God in a personal way. His plan is clear in Deuteronomy 6, verses 4-10.
“Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates.” (CSB)
It’s really brilliant, isn’t it? God has planned for parents to use their years of influence to teach their children what is in their own hearts. Parents bow their hearts before the one true God. Parents love God with all they are. Parents intentionally teach their children who God is and how to love him. They teach in a natural way, having spiritual conversations as they are going about their daily lives. That means this teaching needs to happen while children and parents are living their daily lives together, during those long days and short years!
Most Christian parents I know want to be strong influencers in their children’s lives, but they may not know how. Churches, we have work to do! We must be helping parents learn how to help children. For too long, churches have allowed parents to think the responsibility to be sure children are trained spiritually lies with the churches. Parents are led to believe they are only responsible to drop their children off in a fun Kids’ Ministry area and go away while their children are taught.
There is great value in children’s ministry, but the greatest value is in partnering with parents. I urge churches and parents to find ways to work together for the spiritual growth of children. One way of doing this is through observing milestones together. I’m an admirer of the Legacy Milestones program, developed by Brian Haynes. You can find information about that here. There are other ways as well. Start with simply providing conversation starters for parents to have spiritual discussions with their children. Find what works for you! Every church should be placing priority on helping parents guide their children. Together, we will make a difference in children’s lives for eternity. Days may be long, and years may be short…but eternity is forever!