What is the primary goal of your parenting?
Maybe you haven’t thought about this question before. Go ahead and in your head, list the top three things you hope your parenting achieves in your child. As often as I’m swatting things out of my one year old’s hands as he’s in motion towards his mouth with whatever he just found on the floor, I’m probably listing, “keep Owen from eating poison.”
You can probably build a list of five or ten with no problem. “Because of my parenting I want my kid to _______________”...be responsible, make good choices, get good grades, develop strong friendships, work hard, play sports, love music, show determination.... These traits are admirable for any future adult and it makes sense to work towards these as we parent. But I want you to focus on your primary goal for your kids.
Our goals for parenting should reflect God’s goals for His disciples (Eph 6:4). But how can we know what God’s goals are? Looking at the greatest commandment seems like a fine place to start.
‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ - Matthew 22:37
This makes for a pretty clear mission statement for parents. Our job is to lead our children towards loving God with all of their heart and soul and mind.
I would be willing to accept most Christian parents agree with this mission statement in theory. The real question is whether you and I agree with that mission statement in practice. Are we consciously and intentionally making decisions, disciplining, scheduling, and promoting a total love for the Lord our God? As moms and dads born of flesh (Psalm 51:5), we will never drift towards godly parenting. We must discipline ourselves for godly parenting like we discipline ourselves for all other areas of righteous living (1 Tim 4:7).
Godly parents who parent their kids on autopilot are like weightlifters who skip leg day. Nothing proves a lopsided workout regimen like arms the size of Psalms and legs the size of Jude. For Christian parents, neglecting one part of your call is not often as obvious, but it is just as harmful.
So how do we practice our mission statement as parents?
Pray Your Mission Statement
When we are regularly praying specific things for our family we experience (1) a motivation to join God in bringing those things about and (2) excitement when God gives us the things for which we are praying.
Discuss Your Mission Statement
Ask your family what your family mission statement is based on what they see in your family. Ask them what it should be. Talk to other families about what their mission statements are. The more you talk about something, the more you will be challenged. The more you are challenged, the more you think, consider, and understand
Choose Specific Ways to Do Your Mission Statement
Decide on 2 or 3 tangible ways you can act on your mission statement every week. In my family, we act on our mission statement by (1) going to church on Sundays and Wednesdays, by (2) reading the Jesus Storybook Bible (as often as possible) and praying together before bed (every night), and by (3) my wife and I working through The New City Catechism. There are other ways we practice our mission statement, but these take a conscious effort and priority every week.
For too long student pastors have stolen the immense parental privilege of leading their kids in missions and ministry. Our church wants to restore the responsibility and joy of student missions to the families.
A mother recently spoke to me with excitement about her husband and her son serving an elderly woman in our church by picking up tree limbs from her yard. Later, the father and the son both spoke to me about their fantastic experience. The whole family received a morale boost from just the father and son serving together. I was blessed by their enthusiasm and joy!
Now think back to the last time your student participated in some type of ministry or mission trip. Were you a part of it? Did you experience the effort your child put into serving Christ by serving someone else? Did you see the gospel at work in their hands and feet and lips? Possibly. But probably not. Most likely, a student pastor (like me) stole that privilege and received that joy. Instead of your family building bonds through service together, I did. Instead of moms and dads extracting encouragement and freshness from their kids working for the Lord, I did. Take back this great joy!
Too often the struggle is what scares parents away. We may be afraid of a child that doesn't want to work. We may be afraid of the arguments that will almost certainly happen. We may be afraid of initiating and planning a ministry opportunity for the family. We may even be afraid of the hard work we have to do ourselves! These are real and common fears. And there is a solution to these fears: let the youth pastor do it. However, by caving to these fears, parents are losing some of their greatest opportunities for joy. Imagine a farmer afraid of planting his crop because it may die. That would be silly and self defeating! His hope for a harvest is far greater than the fear of loss. Hope for the harvest in your family.
Allow me to provide one more reason (besides your parental joy) for you to do ministry and missions with your family: your children will see ministry and missions as life long endeavors. If I'm a 7th grade boy and I pick up sticks with my student pastor, when I graduate high school and college I consciously or subconsciously perceive picking up sticks as something for middle schoolers and student pastors. On the other hand, if I'm a 7th grade boy and I pick up sticks with my dad, when I graduate high school and college I consciously or subconsciously perceive picking up sticks as something a man does. We want to train our boys and girls to be men and women that pursue Christ and his kingdom for their entire lives! Your example is training them right now. Are they learning that following Christ is for the kids? Or are they learning that following Christ is for all stages of life?
If you want to start doing missions as a family, but don't know where to start, we've got the resource for you. Our church (and I) wants to make this as easy for you as possible. So we made this webpage for you. It includes a few ideas (not just picking up sticks) to get you started!
I'm really excited to announce our newest resource for busy families trying to create the habit of Family Worship (aka family devotions). Working in conjunction with Remind, we have the ability to send daily or weekly reminders with a link to content for Family Worship. This tech will also allow us to text announcements if you would like.
We, like you, do not like for our text messages to be spammed. With that in mind, we'll only text announcements once a week (or less) and/or Family Worship daily or weekly (whichever you choose).
Signing up is simple!!
For Weekly Family Worship Prompts:
Text this message: @lvbcweekly
To this number: 704 307 4783
For Daily Family Worship Prompts:
Text this message: @lvbcdaily
To this number: 704 307 4783
For Student Ministry Announcements:
Text this message: @lvbcinfo
To this number: 704 307 4783
Think about choosing daily or weekly and also the announcements.
this is what a text might look like:
Just click the first link and it will take you to the easy to use Family Worship Resource for that day.
It is also possible to access the Family Worship Resources through the Student Ministry Website. Hover over "Pastor Mark's Notes," click on "FamilyWorship," and select the month and then the day.
If you commit to it, this can be a valuable tool for our family.
In Ministry Together,