I wish parenting came with a panel of buttons. On days when I feel overwhelmed, I might be tempted to hit fast forward. Most days I would hit slow motion or even rewind. While those buttons don’t exist, as parents we do have access to one important button: reset. Family life has many demands and can make for a lot of moving pieces. While we are working on one area of family life, another goes on autopilot. It is not possible to make every area function at full capacity all the time. As parents, we have learned that it is our job to place priority where it is needed. When we notice that a shift in focus or priority is needed, we need to give ourselves permission to hit the reset button.
Last week, my wife and I realized that we have not done Bible reading with the kids for a couple of months. I noticed that I came home from work, talked to the kids, and once they were in bed I turned on the TV. I had a conviction in my heart. I missed how we use to read the Bible and pray together every night. My wife and I decided that we needed to make some changes. Reset. We agreed that we were not going to watch TV again until we had reestablished a routine of Bible reading and spending time in prayer together every weeknight. The TV is off and prayer is on!
Pastor Mark once said, “Be the person you want your kid to be when they are 18 years old.” That stuck in my mind. More than anything my wife and I want our kids to know God, to serve God, and feel the presence of Jesus Christ wherever they are. Since they were babies we made sure our kids were with us during prayer, worship, church events and serving in church. We believe that this had an impact on their lives. When our oldest was eight years old he use to teach our Muslim neighbor kids about Jesus, asking them if they knew who He was and what He’s done for us. From the time our youngest son was one, whenever we would play worship videos, he would ask to watch them over and over again. He would get a pencil and hold it as a microphone and praise with the worshipers.
Living out our faith in Christ with our kids takes intentionality. We have to purpose to do it and be willing to push the reset button when we get off track.
Here are a few things we value and come back to when we need to reset.
Pick a plan and read the Bible with your kids - Even if they cannot read, give them a Bible. They can turn pages, look at the letters and God will do wonders with that! The important thing is to read the Bible as a family and pick a memory verse of the week. Grab a sticky note! Write it down and post it everywhere around the house.
Pray with your kids - Ask them what is going on at school and pray for their friends. When they do something wrong, ask them to go and spend time with God and tell God about it. Encourage them to ask God for wisdom on how to make it better. Talk to them about it after they spend time with God. At a young age we asked them to talk to God out loud. Those were fun times because we learned a lot about them while they had conversations with God!
Take your kids with you - If you are doing church activities have your kids with you. This is a hard one, but it is needed. Our kids learn from us by seeing how we interact with others and serve God. Have them be part of decision making on activities, talk to them about options and let them pick some activities they prefer, knowing that service is one the family does together. This is a good opportunity to value their ideas, train them to make decisions, build their confidence, and be unified as a family. We attend Second Saturday Serve every month. We have served as a family at the Southeast White House and even joined the choir. I cannot sing but somehow I am in the choir with my family!
There is an African proverb: “Instruction in a person’s youth is like engraving in marble.” As parents we try to teach our kids good habits when they are still young and we hope that they will always default to those when they are older. When my wife and I were growing up, our parents sent us to church and supported our involvement in serving. As young adults, my wife and I went away from the church and did crazy things, but eventually we came back to the Lord.We all raise our kids differently. My wife and I believe that the best we can do for our kids is teach them to love God and serve others. This recent reset has helped us get back on track. Maybe your family could benefit from a reset too?
Alexandre and his wife Liliane Rukashaza were born in Rwanda Africa and raised there. During the Rwandan Genocide in 1994, Liliane lost her parents at age 17 and become a mother to her six siblings and Alex was relocated to United States. Liliane relocated to Canada and was introduced to Alex in 2009. They were married in 2010. As a family we enjoy cooking especially for others! Alex and Liliane are parents to Guety (13) and Shammah (7).