One Way to Eliminate Racism: Disciple Your Kids
I recently read with intrigue the letter a father posted in which he disowned his son for taking part in the racist rally in Charlottesville that devolved into violence. This sorrowful father, along with their family, lamented over their son’s “vile, hateful and racist rhetoric and actions.”
This father, which seemed sincere, and sincerely heartbroken over his sons attitude and actions wants to make is clear that their family does not believe the same way. To emphasize this point the father wrote that his son has been disowned, uninvited to any family gatherings until he changes his ways. And the father specifically wanted everyone to know:
“We do not know specifically where he learned these beliefs. He did not learn them at home.”
This begs the question: where did he learn these beliefs?
As parents we are bestowed with the responsibility of training our children. No one else bears this responsibility. Though others, such as schoolteachers, church leaders, and coaches, take an active part in imparting information to our kids, only parents have the responsibility to teach and train their kids. Considering the many worldviews and philosophies that are competing for the hearts and minds of our kids, it is imperative that parents take serious their duty to be the primary educators of their children.
I recently came across an article giving some practical tips for discipling our kids. I found it helpful. But, as I considered the tips in the article I realized that these tips were also practical for teaching and training our kids in just about anything. (I’m repurposing the same tips given in the discipleship article and encourage you to read that article in its entirety.) Let’s take a look at some ways we can be active trainers of our kids.
- Set realistic expectations.
Whether you are seeking to disciple your kids and teach them about Jesus, or teach them to mow the lawn, its best to be realistic about where they are and where you want them to be. They won’t be preaching sermons in a month and they probably won’t open a lawn care business in a month either. Training (and discipleship) takes time and consistency. You will have little success if you expect too much, too soon. Or, if you don’t stick with it.
- See family discipleship (and training your kids) as a way of life, not a program.
Just as in discipleship, training your kids in anything must be something that fits into the natural rhythms of your life. It becomes awkward when you try to schedule a specific day and time. But when you work your training into the natural rhythms of your family, suddenly it feels normal, less pressured, and enjoyable.
- Be a guide, not a general.
If all you plan to do is tell your kids what to do and how to do it, you’re in for a battle. Sure, sometimes you need to give specific instruction and demand adherence to a particular method. But when it comes to discipleship it is best to guide your kids towards truth as you walk along the road together, or hang out at home, or shop for groceries. If you’re teaching your kids how to shoot a gun drive, or mow the lawn, it might be best to impart specific instructions and require adherence to certain rules. But if you’re discussing the theological differences between pre-tribulation and post-tribulation theology, some latitude and freedom are probably appropriate.
- Feed your own growth.
Mom, dad, you can’t give your kids what they need without first filling up your own tank. An empty glass has no water to share. Make it a point to spend time each day reading your Bible, praying, and meditating on the things of God. When you do, you will naturally have thoughts you want to share with your kids. You will also be in a better position to explain how God changes us through His sanctification process because you are experiencing it yourself. You will be the best conduit of sharing the Gospel with your children when you preach the Gospel to yourself daily and allow God to use it to change you.
- Teach by your example.
The bottom line is that if you really want to teach your kids, you have to set an example. Just as you can’t teach your kids how to make their bed, read, or cook unless you first know how to do those things. Neither can you teach them God’s Word or how to be a follower of Jesus if you aren’t doing it yourself. Kids are smart; they can see when someone is being genuine and when it’s just empty words. If you want your kids to do things on time, be on time. If you want them to keep their rooms clean, be a tidy person with a clean room. If you want them to love Jesus and prioritize worship services, do the same.
- Pray with them and for them.
Whether you want them to succeed in school, at work, on the ball field, or otherwise, pray for your kids. Pray for God to shape them, change them, and save them. Pray for your kids to seek God with all their heart more than anything else. My greatest hope for my kids is that they will love Jesus and serve Him. My prayers are to that end. Pray for your kids.
I don’t know where the racist son learned those lessons, if not at home. His father is certain no such lessons were learned at home, and that may be true. What I do know is that kids learn many life lessons at home, from their parents. Don’t be passive in training your kids. Make it a priority and determine to teach and train your kids each day. It’s an investment you won’t regret.