Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

16 May 2010

Cultivating the Soul of your Children

You must never succumb to the thinking that this is the responsibility of the youth group and Sunday school.  True conversion of the heart and soul of your children is your God-given charge.

From Disciplines of a Godly Family by Kent and Barbara Hughes, page 64.


Sarah said...

I don't think I agree with the Hughes' statement there. Parents should not abdicate their responsibility to teach their children about God to Sunday School or Christian schools, but it sounds like they're implying that parents convert their children.

Meredith said...

Yes, the tyranny of a quote out of its context! And you have hit the nail on the head as far as the Hughes' intent - which is to emphasise that parents ought not to be lazy about working hard to present Christ to their children. They would definitely agree that conversion is in God's hands and they have (as I am discussing in a half written post right now) a very strong emphasis on parental prayer. They definitely believe that a child's salvation rests in God's hands. The point is simply the first, that parents don't sit around doing nothing because the kids will hear good stuff at Sunday School and that will do.

Sarah said...

Yeah I thought they didn't mean that, but I guess a quote on its own can sometimes be seen differently by two different people. I just get sick of Christians criticising other Christian parents because their children aren't following Jesus, as if they've failed as parents. I mean, shouldn't they be PRAYING for these people's kids instead of making out that the parents ALONE are to blame?!? Sorry just off on a rant there. I have Christian friends who have grown up in Christian homes but said their parents didn't pray, read the Bible with them etc when growing up. Everything they learnt about Jesus was from Sunday School or youth group which is guess is what the Hughes' are talking about.

Meredith said...

Hello Sarah. Sorry to have stirred you up with my little quote. And I agree, wouldn't it be good if, instead of judging or criticising we prayed? There is a great post on this very subject at the following link.

A couple of other things...firstly, this quote came from a chapter with same title as I gave to the post - about cultivating the soul. When I think of "cultivating" I think of tending a garden bed - enriching the soil, keeping the weeds out, lovingly tending to the plants - and Christian parenting is all about that. But whether plants grow and live rests in God's hands as to prevailing weather conditions. And so I think it is the same for parents who desire to see their children come to a full and mature saving knowledge of rests in God but we have some cultivating to do - enriching, tending, weeding. And much of that happens in prayer.

And I find this quote helpful because my husband and I are first generation Christians. So we are really learning on the job and quotes like this really impress upon me the importance and intentionality of the tasks before me.

As far as friends complaining about their parents, well...if they have somehow, via parents or others, come to Christ then I would think (as I step up onto my soapbox) that they should be thankful that they are saved and leave it at that. And at least a little observant of the fact that their parents had the foresight to get them into Sunday School/youth group etc where they would hear the gospel from others. (Stepping off the soapbox now!)

I think a bit the "a prophet is without honour in his hometown" factor comes into play as well in many situations. Parents can say things to their kids until they are blue in the face and then a trusted, respected, loved teacher, sports coach, youth minister or "significant other" (gee, I hate that label!!) steps in and says it once and it is accepted. That's fine with me. We know that evangelism is like links in a chain and it can take many links (ie. same story from many mouths) until the connections are made.

And I imagine, if pressed, that your above mentioned parents would say they prayed for their children if not with them - and probably thought they were doing a good thing. We are blessed now with terrific instruction, right here on the internet and in books if not at church, on how to do even better. Which is great (if not overwhelming sometimes) for first generation types like me.

Thanks for chatting.

Sarah said...

I think it was their use of the word 'conversion' was what got my goat a bit.

Sarah said...

Oh don't worry you didn't really stir me up. My friends weren't complaining about their upbringing. They just made a candid remark when I asked them if family Bible reading/prayer was a regular feature in their lives growing up to which they said no. I guess coming from a non Christian background, I had this kind of ideallic view of Christian families and it isn't always the case.

I just think it's a tremendous shame that for some people the number of their offspring they have following Christ is a source of pride for them and causes them to look down on others as if they've failed as Christian parents because none of their children are following Christ. As I consider becoming a parent myself in the next few years, I realise more and more that I am unfortunately also signing myself up to a lifetime of criticism from others, even from those in the church, which is very sad. Like you said, I am also fine with a 'significant other' having a greater impact on my kids following Christ than myself, but I do agree with the gist of what the Hughes are saying, that parents have a responsibility to tell the next generation about our great God :)

Meredith said...

Yep, the bottom line when you become a parent is that you won't please everyone with your choices and methods. We all just have to do what we think, in good conscience, and with God's help, is best. Thanks for your comments. It has been good to think about these things. I look forward to chatting more!