[This is an excerpt from a sermon preached on June 9th, 2013.]
Growing up, my dad would call family meetings occasionally. And as a kid - I remember hating family meeting time. Because what that meant for us was we couldn’t immediately be excused and go run back downstairs to continue the videogame that we had paused, or go back outside to continue our basketball game on the driveway. No, instead, we had to sit around the table and listen to what my dad had to say. And so, my dad would share with us. And I don’t remember the content of what we talked about in those family meetings. But what I do remember is that in the times of family meetings, something was important to my dad, and he wanted it to be important to us as kids.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” - Deuteronomy 6
When Moses says, “Talk about these things when you sit at home,” he does so because what he realizes is that you are going to sit down, that your kids have to eat; you have to eat. And so, when you do, how do you use the time that you have? Dinnertime is an opportunity for you to play the role of teacher. It’s an opportunity for you to play the role of teacher, which helps you establish value in your homes. As you sit at dinner with your kids, you can teach them. You can teach them the things that are important to you and that you want to be important to them. You can teach them the things that you read in the Scriptures that you want them to cling to in their lives. For some of us, this might mean that dinner should look different. It might mean we have to actually have dinner with the family. It might mean the TV needs to be turned off at dinnertime, or the phones get put away. Dinnertime is an opportunity for you to play the role of teacher.
Disciples are made through teaching...
When Jesus is leading the disciples, he’s equipping them, and they’re about to go out and start the Christian church, he gives them a command. And he says, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations.” The job of the disciples, as followers of Jesus, is to be disciple makers. The job for us as followers of Jesus is to make followers of Jesus. Our homes is one of the best environments to help our kids grow as disciples of Jesus. And so, when Jesus gives the disciples this command, he says, “Go and make disciples of all nations.” And the way he instructs them to do this is by, “Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded them.” If you want to help your kids grow to follow Jesus, you have to play the role of teacher. It doesn’t have to be at dinnertime, but you have to play the role of teacher.
Teaching happens not only through talking, but it also happens through modeling. When your kids are little especially, it’s gonna happen primarily through talking. They will copy you, and you will model things, but you are gonna be teaching your kids a lot of truths. You’re gonna teach them, “We believe the Bible. The Bible is true. This is how you pray. Jesus loves you.” But as your kids get older and older and older, more and more of the lessons that they will learn from you are going to be the things that they see you do. The things you say are still important, but more and more is gonna be taught through the things you do. They will be taught lessons about marriage by how you interact with your spouse. They will be taught about grace and forgiveness by how you respond to them when they sin. They will be learning about conflict based on how you respond to conflict in your family. This is why my wife and I, as adults, are still learning incredible lessons from our parents. Even though neither one of our parents has sat down and told us the principles to having a healthy, happy marriage, we can both look to our parents and say, “That’s the type of marriage I would like to have when we are their age.” We can look at our parents and say, “When my son has kids, I would like to be those type of grandparents.” They have never told us or taught us their philosophy on being a parent or a grandparent, but we can see that.
"Just copy Dad"
The Apostle Paul says, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” As he’s teaching his church, he says, “Follow me as I follow Jesus.” In your homes, can you say that? Can you, as a dad, say, “If you want to copy Jesus, if you want to know how to live like Jesus, just copy dad, ‘cause I’m copying Jesus”? As a mom, can you say, “If you want to live like Jesus, if you want to show the grace and the mercy like Jesus shows, just copy mom, ‘cause mom is copying Jesus”? This is a difficult, important task for all parents.
[Feel free to also read an introduction about this, Outsourced Parenting]