A few weeks ago I went to a conference with five other ladies from our church. Our Children's Ministry Pastor invited us. It changed me deeply and I am slowly unpacking what the Holy Spirit helped me see. The process is slow but sure.
Much of what we experienced addressed ministering to children in the context of church programing. All good stuff, but I'll get to that in later posts. The first thing I am sorting through is the concept of Spiritual Parenting. There was nothing novel to me in the basic concept. Much of what was said resonated with what Eric and I already believe and are doing, at least in theory. I'm sure we aren't the only parents who frequently fall short when it comes to implementing our best parenting techniques. But it was beautiful (and affirming) to have words to describe what we believe and desire to practice as parents.
I purchased Michelle Anthony's book entitled Spiritual Parenting: An Awakening for Today's Families.
I've read the first three chapters. This morning after the oldest was on the bus and while the youngest was still in bed, my middle child, Mercy climbed up on Eric's and my bed with me for some quiet reading time. This is one of my favorite things to do with Mercy. She, though she doesn't read yet, loves to sit and look at books for hours. So we sat and "read" together. I love this time when it happens!
Spiritual Parenting Fundamental Concept | As parents we often spend far too much effort correcting the outward behavior of our children and far too little time putting them in the "path of the divine" where the Holy Spirit works and transforms their hearts and minds.
Here is where you have to really wrestle with what your heart desire is with regards to your children. Do you want them to act like good children and not embarrass you, making you look like a parenting expert? Or, do you want them to grow up to possess a vibrant faith in God and an intimate personal relationship with Jesus that exceeds your own?
My first response is, "Both, please."
Both is good, but which do you want more? What you want more will inevitably shape how you parent.
I want my kids to grow up to have a deep faith in God and personal relationship with Jesus that exceeds my own relationship with the Creator of the world. Therefore I need to be parenting in such a way that I put them in the "path of the divine" as much as possible. I cannot force that faith and relationship, nor am I responsible to force it. I just need to leave room for the Holy Spirit to do His thing.
Okay, so tell me how I do that. Right? Michelle Anthony explains what she means by describing ten environments you can create in your home that help to put your children in the "path of the divine." I'll share with you the first one and my personal response.
The Environment of Storytelling | This is the process of telling your children The Big God Story, remembering to tell it as one big story, rather than a bunch of little short stories. Communicating how all the parts of the story they've heard in Sunday School fit into The Big Story of what God is doing. Make certain to always identify God as the Hero, even though it is tempting to think of Daniel, or David, or Moses as the heros. It's critical to see that it's all about God's work in people's lives.
It's great to read a chapter in a book and think, "Yeah, I want to do that. I should do that." It needs to be more than that if it's going to help put my children in the "path of the divine." So, what am I going to do?
I have a blank wall in our hallway. Almost eight years in this house and I've done nothing with it. Now I know why the Lord has left it blank. I am going to paint a comprehensive timeline, placing the people in God's Big Story in chronological order, so that when we read a part of God's story as a family we can easily place it in the context of all the other parts.
Have you thought about the fact that if you are trying to place your children in "the path of the divine" you have to be there yourself?