The most important place of learning for a child is not a school classroom nor is it a church sanctuary (yes, I am a pastor). The most important place of learning for a child is in their home. You and your children will have a multitude of earthly relationships, but the family is the foundation for each of them – for everything. In the home we learn basic life skills such as respecting others and working out conflict.
In the home we develop our work ethic. It is in the family home where we learn how to live in community. Your home is the environment where basic values are taught and become ingrained in each member’s conscience. If we do not learn to live together in love within our own homes, learning to get along anywhere else is very difficult. The home is the fertile ground where righteousness, fulfillment, love, and faithfulness can all be taught, experienced, and encouraged. God commands us to place highest honor on those connected to us in our family.
In the Ten Commandments, we are taught to honor our parents. In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians he writes,
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’—this is the first Commandment with a promise: ‘so that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.’ And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
In the Biblical sense, to honor our parents means to recognize them as important. This does not mean we hold them or all their beliefs/actions in high regard or even accept them just as they are. Rather, we are taught by God that our parents’ importance is an objective reality, regardless of whether we think it should be so or not. We are called to honor them
because they have transmitted life to us. Parents are the critical link that connects creation to Creator, and the responsibility of the parent is to accept the honor and importance they
have been given by God to pass not only life, but faith and morality to us as well.
God tells Moses to speak to the people saying,
“Commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are away on a journey, when you are lying down and when you are getting up”.Deuteronomy 6
A study has shown that if both parents attend church regularly, 72% of their children remain faithful in church attendance. If only the father attends regularly, 55% remain faithful. If only the mother attends regularly, the percentage drops to 15%. If neither attend regularly, only 6% of children will become faithful church attenders.
Reflect upon the importance of the parent in the transmission of faith. The home and the actions of the parent are the most effective way that the love and peace of Christ are spread throughout the world. For every Child not influenced to become a faithful Christian, that is a whole family that will one day most likely be lost to the faith. Eventually, whole communities of unbelief are established.
If your own parents were faithful church goers, if they shared and passed that tradition on to you, then please call them, write them, visit them and tell them thank you for that gift. If they are now a part of the Church Triumphant thank God for them in your praying today. If there were others who helped parent you in the faith: be grateful, and share that gratitude with them.
Consider too your own teaching and example of faithfulness for the next generation of children in our community and in your home. If you are a parent, you have the unique ability to bless the world in ways that are truly transformational – let us not take that for granted!
Dr. David R. Saliba is the Senior Pastor of First United Methodist Church in Dothan, Al. He and his wife, Elizabeth, both grew up in Dothan and enjoys serving Christ in their community with their three young children, Joseph, Grace and Jacob.