Have you ever made an impulse buy? Recently, at a local feed store we couldn't pass up an opportunity to add to the family farm. So, on impulse, we bought a bunch of those cute little meat chickens. The kids embraced the idea and we gleaned what we could from the friendly sales lady and we took our 18 chicks home from the store to fatten them up. How hard could a three month commitment be? After a couple of weeks in the house keeping them nurtured and warm, the smell alone made us want to send these new "house guests" on their way.
It has been said, "Your children are the most important house guest you will ever have." If you have been blessed to have the opportunity to raise a child or be a part of a young person's life, you would then know a short commitment to raise chickens could never compare to all the time and energy it takes in raising a child.
The Bible says children are a "gift from the Lord" (Psalm 127:3) and in the book of Deuteronomy 6:5-9 we see exactly what it will take to raise children in a way that honors God. In the ancient Hebrew world there was a communal aspect of raising a family. There were many voices speaking into the development of a child, but God begins with helping the caregiver realize that good parenting is a matter of their heart first.
This healthy foundation for growth begins with loving God with all your heart, soul, and strength. (verse 5). We can love God, because He has first extended love to us through giving creation himself as Jesus Christ. In this relationship, one can apply His commandments, but only if they are alive and active in a persons life and heart.
If you are raising children or have a voice in a young person's life then God says to "Impress them on on your children" (verse 6). Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up" (verse 7-8). God says it is your job to teach your children, while you can because the season for raising them is very short.
How is good "parenting" transferred? It is through learning methods that encompass all aspects of life: when sitting, when walking, and when going off to bed. Leading by example is the best way to help a child grow and "good parenting" is often "caught, instead of taught." The passage continues to illustrate the importance of following God first and inviting Him to shape all areas of one's heart so the next generation can be blessed.
The key to good parenting is to live it out daily and I believe to shape a child's heart begins with taking care one's heart issues first. Remember, a good foundation for parenting begins with responding to God's unconditional love first and then letting it overflow to the "house guests" He has given you.
Frank Alioto is the pastor of The River Covenant Church and is currently doing a series called , "Raising G-Rated Kids in an X-Rated World. The group meets on Sundays at 10 AM at the Challenger Learning Center, 9711 Kenai Spur Highway.