If you have a role in helping to raise the next generation, have you selected your target?
Psalm 127 is a classic passage about parenting. The Psalmist reminds us that our children are like arrows. The comparison is not random. Arrows are to be crafted to fly straight, then aimed at a target and released. The archer’s goal is for the arrow to hit the target.
So what’s the target when it comes to parenting? As parents, what should our focus be as we craft our arrows and prepare to release them?
A well crafted arrow has four parts. There is the shaft, the long spine of the arrow. There is the fletching, the feathers or plastic vanes that provide the stability and accuracy for the arrow in flight. There is the nock on one end of the arrow that snaps the arrow into the bowstring and holds it in position for launch. And there is the arrowhead, the tip of the spear, which is designed to impact and penetrate the target.
I don’t think the psalmist intended that his arrow metaphor have some kind of one to one correlation between the parts of an arrow and the composite parts of a child. But clearly, our children are multi faceted beings who must be skillfully crafted and shaped for them to have a chance of hitting the target when they are released.
Our children are physical beings. Their bodies have to be cared for and protected as we raise them. We should pay attention to diet and exercise, to sleep patterns and activities.
Our children are mental beings. They can think and reason and create and imagine and dream. Their intellect needs to be sharpened and developed. We need to guide their development as they grow in wisdom and knowledge.
Our children are emotional beings. They are wired to experience things like joy, anger, fear, sadness, disgust, surprise or any number of emotions. Their emotions are a good gift from God, part of being created in His image. They need to us to coach them on how to identify and respond in a healthy way to their emotions.
And our children are spiritual beings. They are born with an innate knowledge that God exists and with His moral law imprinted on their hearts. They will live forever, either in rebellion against God or as children of God who have confessed and turned away from their rebellion and submitted themselves to Him.
These four areas – physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual – are all areas that need to be attended to as we craft our arrows and prepare them for the day when they will be released. The gospel of Luke sums up Jesus’ adolescent years with this single verse – “And Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man.” That verse pretty much sums up the areas we should focus on as we raise our children.
In an interview this week with author Shelly Wildman, she noted that most parents are focused on raising “good” kids who will live a “happy” life. Our focus is often on intellect, emotional stability and social skills, with a goal of raising children who are self sufficient and able to navigate the challenges of adult life. Another author, Tim Kimmel, has said that parents see their job as “health, education and welfare.” If our kids get good grade, have good friends, don’t have sex and don’t do drugs, get into a good college, get a good job and maybe find a spouse and settle in, most parents will feel like they’ve done their job.
Of course, what’s missing from that equation is what the Apostle John says brings the greatest joy to parents – to know that our children are walking in the truth (3 John 4).
Ultimately for that to happen, God has to do a work in a child’s heart. He is the Author of all spiritual life. Parents can’t engineer a true spiritual conversion. And kids aren’t robots. They will make their own choices in life.
But as moms and dads, we can make sure that the spiritual formation of our children is a front burner issue.
We can keep the mandate of Deuteronomy 6 in front of us every day, and point our children to God and His word as we rise, as we eat, as we walk by the way and as we lay down at night.
We can plant the seed of God’s word in their soft hearts by memorizing scripture together with them.
We can model what it looks like to pray – not just at meals and at bedtime. And we can teach them how to pray as well.
We can have them join us as we find ways to serve, in Jesus’ name, our neighbors and people in need in our community.
We can teach them how to confess their sins. And we can make sure they see us confessing our sins.
And perhaps most significantly, we can make sure they see a genuine love for God lived out in our lives.
I hope you’re caring for your children’s physical, mental, emotional and social needs. Those things are important for this life.
But I hope you are also proactively caring for your and investing in your children’s – and grandchildren’s – spiritual lives. I hope that beyond bringing them to church and special events like Summer Kid’s Fest, you have specific ways you are pointing them to Jesus and showing them what it looks like to live out the gospel.
Speaking of Summer Kid’s Fest, it got off to a big start this morning.
Twenty kids gathered to listen to, sing about, and learn about how God is mightier than any human king or army! GOD ALWAYS WINS!!
There were a variety of dot stickers, puzzle competitions, relay games, snacks, and a whole bunch of fun. And the kids learned Isaiah 46:9b “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.”
Mark your calendar for KidsFest #2 happening June 26 from 9:15-11:00! You don’t want to miss it!!
We’re less than two weeks away from our church wide Pizza at the Pool party on Tuesday night, June 25. We’ll meet at the Pleasant Valley swimming pool on Arkansas Valley Drive at 6:30. Pizza is provided – bring your own water or soft drinks.
Everyone is invited. And friends are welcome too!
And be sure to plan to attend our Hymns and Prayers event on Sunday night, June 30 at our new church property. It’s a chance for us to worship together and thank God for His provision of our new church home. We’ll spend time walking from room to room and praying together for each area of the new building to be used to introduce people to Jesus and help them grow in grace. And we’ll talk about how we can work together to make the transition to our new home as smooth as possible.
We’ll also lay out plans for our Dedication Service and Celebration on Sunday, September 8.
I hope you’ll be there.
The Apostle John uses lots of titles and word pictures to describe an
authentic Christian. He calls us people who walk in the light, people
who have come to know Him, and people who abide in Him.
This Sunday, John describes us with a phrase that is appropriate for Father’s Day. He says we are children of God. We’ll see what he says about what it means to be a child of God as we dig into 1 John this week.
See you in church.
Soli Deo Gloria!