This morning Pastor Phil Newell and I conversed on the platform in the adult worship service. He provided key points regarding coaching kids and I added my color commentary. He began by unpacking, in simple terms, the backdrop of Deuteronomy 6: 4-6. For those who are interested, I have posted my commentary below on the four key points of the acrostic HELP which he later: Headship, Example, Light and Leadership.
Children want their parents to be parents. Sure, they enjoy fun companionship, but at the end of the day, they want Mom and Dad to be the leaders and they will test the boundaries to the fullest extent until they discover the limits which Mom and Dad have chosen to set and consistently maintain. Parents set the tone in the home. Be the leader, but communicate your leadership at eye level with your children. Don’t talk down to them from the soaring heights of your vantage point. Lower yourself to their perspective. After all, God did that for us in sending Jesus, didn’t he? When disciplining children, speak in terms of the choices they make. A choice is different than a mistake. When you accidently drop a glass of water, that is a mistake. When you throw the water at your sister, that is a choice.
Family mealtime, once per week to start, conversation, everyone contributes.
Jesus used mealtime as a significant time of relationship building. The last supper was a case in point. It was not strictly a sacred moment, as if you can divide sacred and the mundane. It was a moment of community, of relationship, which infused into its normal routine of sharing bread, wine and conversation the greater significance of Jesus’ forthcoming sacrificial death. The sacramental element was introduced in the context of community. I think this is telling. It was meant for community, not individualistic partaking. So, participating in meaningful mealtimes as a family certainly takes on greater significance when considered in this light.
Children watch parents and adults closely. Our attitudes. Our word choice. Our actions. They are especially alert to those times when we are under pressure. How do we behave when things go wrong, or when we are frustrated? The phrase do as I say and not as I do is just that, a phrase. The reality is that kids typically will do as their parents do, for good or for bad, because that is the example that is modeled for them. Spend time watching your children play. Be present with them in play. After all, with young children especially, play is their primary language and toys and the details of their games are their words. You can learn a lot about your child in their play. You also can help them mature by teaching them respect for boundaries, right from wrong, how to reconcile, how to communicate, all in the context of play and without having to lecture them. If we only lecture a child, she often simply hears static” “Blah, Blah, Blah.”
The moment by moment interactions we have with children are like the flashbulbs which will either point to the reality of Jesus, or obscure him from view, depending on the character we exhibit for children. Enter into their story and allow them into yours. Be real. Make your relationship with God accessible to the children as a normal part of your daily routines.
Be present with them in the daily routines of their lives. Each interaction is an opportunity to spark once again the light of Jesus in their hearts.
It comes on our knees and on our feet and as we drive in the car, wake our kids up, share a meal with them, put them to bed, all through the routines of our lives, as we worship, pray and listen to God. We need to remember that although God is transcendent, he is also immanent. He created and sustains the universe while also sending his Son Jesus to live among us, and his Spirit to indwell us. God is other, but he lives in the hearts of those who believe. Yet, why do we so often pray as if he is out there somewhere, rather than present with us? Why do we act as if God is beyond some closed door or glass ceiling? Jesus is Immanuel, God with us. When he died the veil separating holiest place from the remainder of the temple was torn. Likewise, we were given access to God through Jesus Christ. Jesus is now our high priest. We are the royal priesthood, invited in to the holiest place to worship God and converse with him directly. To be sure, we must maintain reverence. But God also invites us to call him Abba, daddy. He invites us into intimate relationship with him. This ought to inform our worship, our prayer, our daily routines and thoughts.