Parent Like You’ve Overslept (Christian Parenting)
What does Christian parenting have to do with oversleeping?
“Oh no! The alarm didn't go off and now we have to leave in less than an hour!”
Ever been there on a Sunday morning? My husband and I have.
We dash to the kids' rooms and start throwing their covers off. “Quick! Get up! Go potty right away and head to the breakfast table. I'll set out a granola bar for you. Scarf it down as quickly as possible, wash your hands, and in the meantime I'll lay your clothes out on your bed. Get yourself dressed, put your shoes on, and start brushing your hair.”
While the kids eat a granola bar or some other hastily thrown together “breakfast”, we do as promised and lay out their clothes so they can go straight to their rooms to get dressed. Somewhere in the mayhem we try to find a second to sneak into our room and throw on our own clothes.
I head to the bathroom to put some order to my hair and simultaneously holler out instructions to the kids. “Yes, sweetie, you put your undershirt on first. Whoops, go switch your shoes around; they're on the wrong feet.” I can hear my husband telling a boy to stand still while he helps him get his belt through the belt-loops.
A quick brush of hair here, a record-breaking tying of shoes there, and somehow we all find ourselves buckled into the Suburban. My husband and I look at each other and say with a relieved sigh, “Whew. We made it.”
Almost inevitably one of us will remark on the ride to church, “How is it that on the days we wake up late we end up getting to church earlier than when we get up on time?”
As I thought about this scenario I realized that we should model our parenting after a late Sunday morning dash to church.
I couldn't help but think of Moses' mother and the few years she had to teach him about who he really was and who God is.
We become more efficient with our time when the realization of how limited it is bears down heavily upon us. (Click to tweet that.)
We knew we had to hurry or we'd be late for church. Moses' mother Jochebed knew she had to use every waking moment to instill an unshakeable foundation of faith into her son before she relinquished him to live in the Egyptian palace.
But I'm afraid our parenting ends up being patterned after a “we got up early; we've got all the time in the world” Sunday morning.
We think we've got plenty of time to teach our kids what they need to know. So we don't capitalize on every moment. We play a game on our phone when we could be teaching them a verse. We watch a movie when we could be reading the Bible as a family. “Later,” we say. “We've got plenty of time to do that.”
But in the blink of an eye we find ourselves celebrating another birthday. Our child is another year older, then another, then another. Until suddenly, eighteen birthdays have come and gone and our child is ready to leave the nest. “Wait!” we think. “There are still a lot of things you need to know! I don't think you're prepared to face the onslaughts of this wicked world!”
But it's too late, mom. It's too late, dad. Ready or not, the time of departure is here. You wasted time because you thought you had plenty of it.
How in the world was Moses' mother able to accomplish so much teaching in such a short amount of time? How did her son stand up for his faith in Jehovah when he only lived in his home for a few short years before spending the rest of his youth in the Egyptian palace?
Here is what I believe must have happened, and what we as parents in this wicked world must practice before our children leave our own homes:
1. Remove the non-essentials
When Jochebed knew how limited her time with her son would be, I doubt she spent even one single minute gossiping with the neighbors, sewing a new dress for herself, or whatever it was that Hebrew women did for entertainment.
On a late Sunday morning, my husband and I fore-go a nice breakfast, skip out on making our bed, and make do with an old hair bow for our daughter if we can't find her new one.
As a Christian parent, what can you eliminate from your life to make more time to teach your child God's Word? Do you need to delete the games off your phone or give up some of the outside activities that keep you running every night of the week?
2. Maximize every moment
Even without non-essential fluff filling up her time, Jochebed's window of opportunity for teaching her son was still severely limited. She had to maximize every moment of the day. When she was kneading bread, she was probably teaching Moses. When she was washing clothes, he was at her side learning about God. When she was sweeping the Egyptian dust from the floor of her home, she was talking to her son about Jehovah.
Deuteronomy 6:6-8 says:
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
No matter what we are doing, we can be teaching our children about Christ. My children often sit up on a stool while I'm cooking dinner and we memorize verses. Use every day situations to teach your children Biblical truths. When you're eating grapes, teach them that Jesus is the true vine and that they cannot do anything without him. Every moment can be used profitably, but you must constantly be watching for ways to do so.
3. Keep going even when you're tired.
Moses' parents were slaves in Egypt. No doubt they worked incredibly hard and were bone-tired pretty much all the time. But they didn't let that stop them from taking care of what was most important – teaching their child about his God.
I admit; I fall short in this area far too often. When we've been gone all day and don't get home until late, it's so tempting to send the kids straight to bed without family prayer time. Or when we're having a busy day, it's easy to skip things that would be part of normal routine, like reading the Bible together. But the hard days are really the days when we need God the most! When we say “Not today; I'm exhausted!” we are teaching our kids by our actions that we don't really need God's help.
When my child has committed the same offense 354 times in a row, I really don't feel like dealing with it any more. I'd rather go hide in my room, bury my nose in a book and forget my troubles ever existed. But those are the times my child needs instruction the most! He is obviously struggling with something, and I need to help him work through it God's way rather than leaving him to sort through it on his own. As a parent, these things are emotionally exhausting. But it's a battle you can't afford to lose! Stay in the fight!
4. Live with a sense of urgency.
Jochebed knew her days with Moses were numbered. She tried to cram in everything she possibly could to those few short years with her son.
When we wake up late on a Sunday morning, the prevailing atmosphere in our home is “Hurry, hurry, hurry! Don't talk; it will slow you down. If there is any possible way to complete any part of the morning routine faster or more efficiently, do it!”
When it comes to parenting, the sense of urgency must be the same. Don't slow down. Don't get distracted. Keep the pressure on.
Ephesians 5:15-16 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
5. Never give up.
If we wake up late on a Sunday, we could say “Oh well. I guess we won't make it this morning. Might as well go back to bed.”
But if we did we would miss all the blessings that come from a day of worship and of fellowship with believers. (Not to mention we'd be disobedient to God's command not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together.)
The stakes are even higher when it comes to teaching our children the word of God.
There are days when I have literally said “This is impossible! My kids are not listening to a word I say!” But giving up is not the answer. To give up on teaching them the Word of God is to give up on an eternal soul!
As I close, I want to share with you the 3 things that we need to focus on teaching our children:
First, they need to have a Biblical understanding of their own personal salvation. You can teach a child to parrot phrases like, “I am a sinner.” “Sin has a penalty.” “Jesus died on the cross to pay that penalty.” “I need to trust Jesus to save me from my sins.” But if they do not know from scripture that these things are true they will never become more than just that: parroted phrases. When speaking to your child about salvation, focus more on teaching them the scriptures that point to Jesus as the only way to heaven rather than trying to get them to memorize the “right answers”.
Once your children have professed salvation through Christ, they need to know why and how to live a holy life. Again, point them to the Scriptures rather than your own words. Teach them what the Bible says they must do to be obedient (obey parents, speak the truth, be kind to others, etc.) then teach them that they cannot obey in their own strength. Teach them what the Bible says about putting off the old man and putting on the new man, about renewing their minds, and about hiding God's word in their heart that they might not sin against him. Teach them how to detect and avoid the wiles of the devil by putting on the whole armor of God.
Finally, teach them how to win the lost to Christ. God commands every believer to “preach the gospel to every creature”, and we need to send our children out equipped to do so. Teach them not just what to believe, but why they should believe it. Their beliefs will be challenged by the world, and they need to know how to defend their faith and stand boldly for the gospel.
Make scripture pre-eminent in your home.
Teach it. Memorize it. Live it.
And parent like you've overslept.
.. now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. Rom. 13:11