Building a godly home is a foundational element for Christian life, for couples and children. A home built on faith is our platform for ministry to the rest of the world for the rest of our lives.
Proverbs 22:6 calls us to instruct our kids in the way of the Lord. This text invites us to guide our children to see God always. That task includes reading the Bible, but also much more. We teach our children why we serve and give to others. We show the value that is in caring for others. We show compassion not only because it blesses recipients but also honors God and makes us better people. We guide our children to know God and his desires for us and we teach our kids what it looks like to follow God's leading. As children practice habits of drawing near to God, they are establishing good habits for when they leave the nest.
We are told to love the Lord your God with all your heart soul and mind (Matthew 22:37). Loving the Lord above all things is shown and reflected in our actions. Our love for God is seen, felt, and taken in by all who see us. We want our children to understand that their actions bear witness to their faith. Teaching them to completely love God and put him before all other things will help them align themselves to what is right and help others see God in them.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-17 reminds us rejoice always and continuously pray as well as simply be in the word every day. We need direct contact with God at all times of the day because all times of the day we need wisdom, guidance, help, forgiveness, and strength. Prayer allows us to center ourselves before the day begins, as the day ends, as well as every time in-between. Teaching our kids the necessity of prayer is imperative. Just as we pray for wisdom throughout the day our kids will need to do so too. This is also a good reminder for us, as parents, that while our kids are out there we should be praying for them and the decisions they face.
My wife and I try to make sure that our home is safe, that the kids know God, and that we pray with them every day. We want our children to know and understand that we continue to pray for them when they leave our sight. Our desire is that our children see that the characteristics we teach them as important are the exact ones found in God's word. Every day as my children leave the car and step into their world I say, “Be kind, considerate, compassionate, and full of grace and love.” These are important values to live into that go beyond our house-walls and into the mission-field that God is preparing for them.
Yet as my child steps out of the house, they navigate the world through their own lenses and feelings and experiences. Our guidance as parents helps them to make the decisions and choices they face, but their decisions are their own. We lead and guide and instruct and give tools, but only they can choose to use those tools.
Within our own home we can attempt to control what our kids do and watch and listen to, but there is much of their lives that is outside of our influence. Their teachers and friends and relationships all have an influence in their lives. Having rules and time in prayer is not a formula for faith formation. We simply cannot command our children to grow up to be godly men and women. God has given each person choices to make. We can create a conducive environment, we can pattern positive habits, we can model deep conversations about God, but shaping hearts is up to God.
We find peace and comfort in knowing that, just as our lives are in God’s hands, so too are our kids' lives. All of us are part of his plan, and that is a peace that cannot be washed away. God knows our children's failures as well as their successes. He knows what they need, and has a plan for them too. In the end, they are more his children than mine.
And finally, a house needs to be safe enough to be a place of laughter, a safe home where people can let down their protective walls and simply be at peace and rest. Love, prayer, scripture, and laughter--these are beautiful and wonderful ways that we can foster a Christian atmosphere.
Our kids are citizens of God's Kingdom in training, and thus we need to give them the tools now so that as they grow and navigate this complex world they do so with God always before them.
Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra
Rev. Deb Koster