You shall teach them diligently to your children….
I was reminded recently of the unique opportunities that I have as a father to pass on my own passions to my children.
It was at a minor league baseball game that I attended with my family. We met one of my long-time friends (and brother in the ministry) and his son. We hadn’t seen each other for over six years and were catching each other up on our lives.
My friend and I went to college and seminary together and now we are brother pastors, albeit in different states – he in Michigan and I in Illinois.
Our sons are the same age and have been friends all their lives.
One of the interesting things about our sons is that they both have a love of the 1980’s – the music, the movies, and what-not.
The 1980’s was also the decade that my friend and I grew up – we were in high school and college in the 1980’s.
It is my theory that this makes our sons “nerds” but not us as they like the 80’s and we grew up in the 80’s.
Like most fathers, we have passed on our loves and passions to our sons, especially our passion for baseball and broadcasting.
My son has a passion for baseball. Like most fathers, too, I was his coach during little league. I gave up coaching when he made “majors” in the 7th grade as my responsibilities at my church took more time than I could give to coaching.
He now is starting his third year of college baseball and just recently received a baseball scholarship to a local university!
My friend’s son picked up on a different passion from his father. He still loves baseball, but is now a communications major in college. He also is a broadcaster for the university sports teams and hosts his own radio show on – wait for it! – 80’s music!
It is my dream that one day my son will be playing baseball in the major leagues and my friend’s son would be a broadcaster for the same team!
There’s no doubt that our sons’ have picked up some of their passions from us, their fathers.
But my friend and I are both most pleased that our sons have a passion for Jesus Christ. They are both strong Christians and their faith in Christ shapes the other passions in their lives.
I believe this is part of what God meant when He inspired Moses to write, “You shall teach them diligently to your children….”
My friend and I have “diligently” taught the Christian faith to all our children (my other two sons and his daughter in addition to the two sons I’ve been writing about) – as well as hundreds of other children during our twenty-plus years as pastors.
Fathers have a unique opportunity to pass on passion to their children. In our case, it was baseball and broadcasting.
But one unique opportunity that is common to all Christian fathers is to pass on their own faith in Jesus Christ to their children.
Not that we give them our own faith, but we live our faith, teach our children, and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to our children so that the Holy Spirit uses that to create and sustain faith in them.
It is so awesome when a child has the Christian faith that their mom and dad have. It is also an awesome responsibility that can scare a mother or father.
I know it scares me. What if I’m not a good example to my children or what if I don’t teach the faith correctly? These are questions that still haunt me even though my sons are now in their late teens.
Thankfully, God is merciful and loving and – as Creator of all – can fix any mess I make of things.
I’m comforted by a prayer I pray every weekend that I preach or lead worship:
Lord God, You have appointed me as a … pastor in Your Church, but you see how unsuited I am to meet so great and difficult a task. If I had lacked Your help, I would have ruined everything long ago. Therefore, I call upon You: I wish to devote my mouth and my heart to you; I shall teach the people. I myself will learn and ponder diligently upon You Word. Use me as Your instrument — but do not forsake me, for if ever I should be on my own, I would easily wreck it all.
This prayer is not just for a preacher, but is excellent for a mom or dad as well and it is an excellent way to start every day!