“…He commanded our fathers to teach their children, that the next generation might know [His testimony/law] and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and keep His commandments.” Psalm 78.5-7
I was struck afresh by these words as a powerful reminder for our intentional spiritual influence on our children. The greatest privilege any parent can have is not just telling their child about the Lord but modeling for their children a lifestyle of devotion and love for the Lord and His people.
I grew up in a church culture in which parents dropped their kids off for Wednesday night youth ministry and then showed back up at church when the program was over. For many of my friends in the youth group, they never had the experience of sitting in worship with their parents, nor did they encounter loving spiritual guidance from their parents at home.
This instruction from the Psalmist exhorts believers in God to teach their children. I don’t think it’s as simple as just getting them to learn a few verses or reciting information about the Bible. I think the heart of the command is for the parents to practice a lifestyle of godliness in the home. Yes, the church – the local gathering of believers – has a role to play; however, the most dynamic spiritual impact occurs in a child’s life when they see and experience and hear their parents seeking to humbly follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. A parent is a child’s best pastor.
This principle of intentionality and of “passing it on” is seen again in the New Testament in relation to leadership and discipleship. Paul tells his young protege Timothy, “The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.”
In other words, don’t let it stop with you. When you are blessed by someone pouring into your life, whether parent, pastor, friend or family member, make sure to turn around and pass it on. The expression goes, “You have been blessed to be a blessing.”
It makes me think about the cheesy old youth camp song called Pass It On:
It only takes a spark (are you swaying yet?)
To get a fiiiiire goiiing.
And soon all those around
Will warm up to its glowiiiing. (Get ready for musical crescendo!)
That’s how it is with God’s love
Once you’ve experienced it.
You spread His love to everyone.
You want…. to pass….. it on.
(For the rest of the lyrics, check here!)