by Joe Greer
Learning to set priorities is an important life lesson. We understand that, and so we strive to teach our children the significance of learning how to effectively use their time. These lessons begin when they are very young … such as, when their (or our) favorite TV show is recorded on the DVR so it will not be missed. Parties and gatherings of friends and family are marked on the calendar in advance to make sure the day is not ‘double-booked’ with some other activity. After school functions are critical in their development and they are scheduled in our planner so they do not slip our mind and get missed. Activities such as scouting are important for a child to be a ‘well-rounded’ individual so we would not dream of letting them miss these. Practicing and performing in the school band or chorus will build new skills sets that are critical in social development, so these too, will float to the top of our time planner. And when it comes to involvement in sports, well, these activities are the essence of building character and discipline, so they will become the priority of all priorities.
Sound familiar? Child rearing has similar challenges from one generation to the next. Proper use of time always proves to be advantageous and something that we all have to learn. But, are we teaching all that we really need to teach? How would we rate if we were graded on teaching our children about service to God as a top priority? Seriously. How would we fare?
When there is a choice to make between an extra-curricular activity and Wednesday night Bible study … what do we do? When the choice is between going out with friends on Saturday night and getting up on time for Sunday morning Bible study … which do we choose? When the church has scheduled a gospel meeting and there are lessons during the week that conflict with TV programs – school activities – or a school ball game … where will our priorities be?
Parents … we are teaching by what we do and what we allow. How can we influence our children to make good choices?
First, we need to set the example.
When the saints assemble … we will be there. We understand that our presence is important for our own edification, the building up of our faith. Each of us must work at getting our faith where it needs to be before we can be an example to our children. So, we are going to be where that is will happen … in the assembly of the saints. And, without any question, our children will be there with us. There is no other place they could be that is of greater importance than being with us in Bible study and worship. “Let us consider one another so as to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much more as you see the day approaching.” Heb. 10:24-25
Second, we must be willing to demonstrate a sacrificial love for God.
This sacrifice has to do with the giving of ourselves. The rule in our home must be that priority is given to our service to God. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” Mt. 6:33
That means we will sacrifice ourselves to be all that God would expect us to be. We will work to present ourselves to God as a living sacrifice in His service. Think about how that will change the things we may do … how we may have to ‘sacrifice’ and give up doing some activities we would like to be involved in. Instead, we will focus on our service to God. What this may mean, is that matters of importance to our children and friends (or to us) may have to take a back seat to what we know to be most important. It hardly seems that we can call this a sacrifice, because after all, it is the least that we can do in our service to God. “that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” Rom. 12:1
Third, we will set the rules.
Understanding that lifelong habits will be learned while our children are at home, we must teach priorities that emphasize godly living. Our opportunity to teach our children is a fleeting one because they will be grown before we want to realize it. Parents who neglect this time of training and instruction will regret their lack of diligence later. So, set rules in the home that will lead your children closer to God.
God’s instructions for raising children are straight forward. “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Prov. 22:6 “Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” Eph. 6:4
Parents, how are you doing in teaching your children priorities for godliness?