"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." (Proverbs 22:6)
One of the most dramatic realizations that any parent can have is to understand that a parent has more influence (either passive or active) over their children than any minister, teacher, friend, or other family member could ever have. Just a few days ago, I sat in a room full of youth ministers from all over the southeast United States. And as a series of questions rang out from around the room, concerns were being honestly expressed by these different youth pastors. Were the concerns regarding an inability to get students to pay attention in bible study time? No. Was the concern regarding a lack of interest in youth group activities? No. Surprisingly, several of the concerns focused on the parents of the students.
Interestingly enough, many of the kids that are growing up in so-called "Christian homes" are suffering silently in the shadows of our church buildings. They are suffering in the corners of their computer lit rooms at home. What is this suffering based upon? To be blunt, it is based upon a lack of reinforcement of the truths learned on Sunday within the walls of their own homes. Plainly put, the homes are becoming more and more "worldly" and less and less "godly." Parental influence/training is not only diminishing, it is often contradictory to the truths we claim to believe. This leaves our youth in more conflict than you and I could ever imagine.
We live in a culture that is increasingly giving adulthood status and freedoms to a increasingly younger age of adolescent youth who are ill prepared for the challenging responsibilities given to them. The attentive parent must be proactive to prepare his/her children. The attentive parent must be available. The attentive parent must be teaching at every opportunity.
What have parents done for the training/education of their children? They drop their children off at school to learn. What have parents done for the spiritual development of their children? They drop their children off at the church. Then, on the drive home, or to work, they feel as if they are doing their parental duties by simply providing transportation toward whatever area of formation that they carry their children to. Passive parenting does not deserve a pat on the back.
Yet, Scripture teaches that parenting is applied. It is practiced. Scripture teaches that it is the parents' responsibility to TRAIN UP their children. According to biblical truth, parents are to be the primary influence in the lives of their children--not simply facilitators of influence. Not the only. The primary. The pastor preaches once or twice a week. The teachers teach five days a week at school. Yet, parents are given the primary responsibility to teach and train their children every day of their developing lives.
As these youth ministers poured their hearts out concerning their young students, it became very evident that there was a bit of animosity in their hearts toward some of the parents that leave the spiritual development of their children completely up to them (and hold them accountable for it). This animosity should be repented of. However, I couldn't help but hurt to hear some of the stories of many spiritually orphaned kids that are being left to the world for their training. Left to the school systems. Left to the coaches. Left to the ministers. Left to the televisions. Left to their ipods. Left to the Internet to secretly discover things that ought to be rightfully taught in careful, loving fashion by parents. Right under our steeples. Right under our noses. Right in our "Christian homes."
And as more and more parents (fathers and mothers) are allowing themselves to be bombarded by responsibilities outside of the home, the ministry of the home is becoming more and more of a distant memory. We often work late so that we, as parents, can afford the next five-hundred dollar PlayStation 3. And in truth, it is probably easier to do that. In reality though, our children are screaming silently for our time, attention, and parental guidance.
Wouldn't it be nice to reclaim an active part in the development in our children? Wouldn't it be nice to reclaim the ministry of the home?