We begin putting rules and boundaries in our kids lives when they’re little. Each family has their own rules, but I’ll bet you could find a lot of them in common from house to house. Things like don’t hit, be polite, don’t play with knives, no red jelly on the white sofa, says please and thank you. At the heart of the matter obeying these rules doesn’t make our children better people. As our kids grow up, and some of your kids are ready to leave the nest, we will know that the rules have done their job if their hearts have been trained in the process.
Do our kids understand that we expect them to say please and thank you, and use other manners, because at the heart of it our desire is for them to value and respect people? Do they know that our rules are their to teach them, keeping their actions in check until they’ve learned the meaning behind the rules?
I think we can transfer that reality to our spiritual lives. Our faith isn’t about keeping a set of rules but the guidelines, rules, and disciplines keep our actions in check as we mature and take on the values of Jesus himself.
As I’m teaching my kids to memorize scripture, pray before bed, go to church on Sunday, I pray that the real reason behind these practices becomes clear to them. I don’t want to raise a couple of rule followers I want to raise children who recognize the power and value of God’s word, who love to talk to him in prayer, who desire to meet with his people.
Rules and boundaries are important, keeping groups of people in order, but more important than rules is relationship. Relationship with each other, relationship with God. I pray that my own relationship with God is an example of this reality to my kids and that as they grow they experience their own intimate moments with him.
No prolonged infancies among us, please. We’ll not tolerate babes in the woods, small children who are an easy mark for impostors. God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love. Ephesians 4:14-16 MSG
Let’s pray that our kids would mature, growing up in Jesus, so that obedience is a joy, an act of love, and not a drudgery.
Father, thank you for the rules and instruction you have given us to keep our hearts and actions in check as we mature in you. Thank you for the privilege of guiding and instructing our own children. We pray we wouldn’t lay heavy laws across our children’s backs but helpful disciplines meant to mature them. Open their hearts to the reality of your love and the joy of obeying you in response to your love. Would you lead them to love relationship over law, learning that knowing you is better than merely following rules. As we raise our children would you cause the rules to do their work and train their hearts. Thank you for your faithful leading. Amen.
Do you have rules that, if you’re honest with yourself, are unrealistic and are more for your benefit than your kids? Have you taken the time to carefully choose your kids guidelines and explain them?
Parenting is no easy task, take heart you’re not parenting alone, God is with you!