As parents, we are the spiritual leaders of our children.
If I’m being honest, I’ve never been comfortable with the phrase, spiritual leader. Not because I don’t believe it. I actually think it’s 100% accurate. I haven’t been comfortable with it, because it feels like a measuring stick or a standard that I most likely fall short of attaining.
Or maybe it’s the words themselves. Spiritual. Leader.
Do I meet the qualifications for these words? Do “spiritual leaders” have flaws, because it doesn’t really sound that way.
We often avoid the role of spiritual leader because we think it means we can only listen to worship music with our kids or have to pray all the time or…fill in the blank.
If you feel this way, I get it.
But like it or not, we are the spiritual leaders of our children and I don’t think it’s as hard as we make it out to be. You don’t have to have a lot of biblical knowledge or be like your pastor to be qualified for this job. You are qualified as you are. You don’t have to be trained in how to do this, you just have to help them take the next step.
HELP THEM TAKE THE NEXT STEP
I love the way Reggie Joiner puts it:
“Here’s a definition that can put us all at ease for just a second. What if we redefine spiritual leadership? What if spiritual leadership is simply helping your child take a positive step in their relationship with God.”
This means it’s not about knowing everything you need to know about spiritual life now, you just need to know one thing that helps them move in the right direction.
You may not know everything, but I bet you know one thing! And with that one thing, you can have a positive spiritual impact!
YOU ALREADY KNOW HOW TO DO THIS
You do this everyday – many, many times a day – in other areas of life. You help your kids take a positive step in education by helping them with their homework…or in being healthy by limiting their sugar intake…or in daily life by teaching them to tie their shoes…or in personal hygiene by reminding them to put on deodorant…you help them in athletics by spending time practicing with them. The same thing applies to their spiritual life engage them and help them move in a positive direction.
Here’s what I’ve learned recently – small investments over time are more powerful than I think. But it’s not always magical in the moment. It take a bit of patience. But I’ve found that if I will just engage in their spiritual life in a simple way, it will often lead to many other opportunities to engage them spiritually down the road. Here’s a few examples:
- For awhile I decided to point out sunrises or clouds or trees, etc and say something like “isn’t it crazy God thought to create all these cool things!” Easy stuff that anybody can do. Again, nothing happens in the moment, but several weeks later I get this question – “You know how you said God created all these things (literally weeks later), well who created God?”
- (NOTE: This may be a scary question for you, but I don’t know that the answer matters as much as an openness to talk about it. It’s the conversation that matters. You could simply respond with, “that’s a really interesting question, what do you think?” or “I have no idea, but we can explore it together later, would you want to do that?” I opted for the answer a question with a question in this particular moment.)
- When a family member passed away, we gathered our kids in the kitchen to let them know. We were prepared for big emotions and the need to explain that heaven is a special place and we are going to be ok. Honestly, they took it in stride and showed no emotion in that conversation. We were shocked and a bit surprised, but shared with them and moved on. Then weeks later, as we are driving a question about heaven. Two months later, as we are going to bed a reference to that family member enjoying heaven. Nothing in the moment, but the initial conversation led to many other moments of spiritual conversations.
- Saying prayers every night before bed – simple, not fancy (sometimes even in the middle of a lot of frustration about the bedtime routine), prayers. Most nights the kids are silly or robotic in what we’ve taught them to say, but every now and then they pray something that hits you in the gut. They get it, not because we explained it, but because we showed up and prayed each night. We helped them take the next step by modeling it over weeks and years and then it becomes beautiful.
So, how can you help your child take the next positive step in their relationship with God this week? It doesn’t have to weighty or heavy or cerebral – in fact, it’s better if it’s not!
Maybe it’s practicing praying before meals…or simply making it to church this week…or pointing out a great sunset and thanking God for his creation…or putting a note in their lunchbox reminding them they are loved by God and by you.
Whatever it is, you can be the spiritual leader this week by helping them take the next step. Don’t make it harder than it needs to be.
I’m thankful for this podcast in regards to this idea – check it out –