Building a strong foundation of faith for your childrenWritten by Dr. Tim Kimmel
What's inside this article
Chalk it up to a middle class with more discretionary income or simply the mega-trend toward specialization, but more and more of us are hiring other people to do things that used to be our responsibility.
This is especially true when it’s something that doesn’t fit into our busy schedule, something we don’t enjoy doing or something we don’t feel competent enough to do well.
I’m not complaining. If we can get help on the mundane parts of our lives enough to then use our optional time more effectively, then I’d say, "Power to the people!" But mega-trends have a bad habit of mega-reformatting some features within our thinking that might be better off left as they are. This is especially true when it comes to the responsibility of raising our kids.
Every parent’s job
In our world of crowded schedules, it’s easy to default to subcontracting the most time-consuming and complicated parts of parenting to childhood specialists. This makes perfect sense if we’re talking about playing the oboe or throwing a "slider," but it blows up in our faces when the issue is about protecting our kids from the clear and present dangers that threaten their spiritual lives.
Regardless of what our "nannyfied" culture tells us, there’s something every parent needs to know. God gave the task of building the inner mettle of our children’s spiritual lives to us. It is irrelevant how unqualified we may feel when we look at the skills required to do the job well; it’s still our job.
The good news is that He’s provided us with all the tools and the resources needed to do a stellar job. All you need to do is to take what you’ve got, hand it over to Him and watch what happens. Sound too simplistic? Squeeze with me through a narrow crease in time. There’s something you need to see.
A secure defence
It’s 70 years after Israel has been led away in chains to Babylon. It’s the price they had to pay for their national unbelief. Jerusalem is a mere shadow of its former glory. A dishevelled remnant has returned to find a pile of rubble where the Temple once stood. The wall formerly surrounding the city is just as King Nebuchadnezzar’s army left it – with no rock left on top of another.
Nehemiah has led these pilgrims back from Babylon to reclaim their spiritual birthright. But before they can restore the Temple and salvage their traditional way of life, they must rebuild the wall. Why? All you had to do was look to your left or right and you could see the reason.
There were enemies in the region – nasty, determined adversaries of the God of Israel who knew that a restored Temple meant an end to the chokehold they had been enjoying on the political, economic and religious power in that part of the world. If they were going to keep God’s light from once again shining from the Temple Mount, they would have to put their full energies towards preventing the wall from being rebuilt.
A strong and unbroken wall represented a secure defence from these enemies without and a peaceful calm to these pilgrims within. For the ragtag remnant from Babylon, the wall wasn’t a maybe but a must.
All you need
This is when you’re supposed to get out the Yellow Pages for a good list of the professional wall contractors in the area, draw up some blueprints, get some bids and have them start moving boulders. That was the problem. There were no professional wall construction companies to call, and even if there were, none would have answered.
There was only one way that the wall would be built – and that’s by the sweat labour of a collection of people that hadn’t a clue what they were doing. But Nehemiah knew something at the front-side of the project that the people wouldn’t find out until it was completed – if God is all you’ve got going for you when you’re in over your head, God is all you need.
The best person for the job
Nehemiah knew something else. The best way to ensure that something is done right is to demand it from people who have the most to lose. That’s what moved him to require each family to work on the section of wall closest to their house. These people were not only anxious to do the job quickly but were inclined to do it thoroughly. The logic was simple: should the city find itself under attack, you want the enemy to face its most stubborn resistance from the section of wall next to your home.
Read it for yourself. The book of Nehemiah is one of the great adventure stories of all times. It’s also downright funny in places. Like Uzziel, son of Harhaiah, one of the goldsmiths, repairing the section next to his house (Nehemiah 3:8). A goldsmith carrying a cement hod? And then my favourite: Shallum, son of Hallohesh, repaired the section next to his house with the help of his daughters (Nehemiah 3:12)! He’s got his girls out there in the pile of debris sliding boulders into place with wedges and pulleys.
Don’t be afraid
And if amateurs building walls wasn’t enough, the enemies posed such a constant threat that Nehemiah ordered the people to carry their weapons with them while they worked. They had a trowel in one hand and a spear in the other (Nehemiah 4:20). In the midst of this incredible threat, Nehemiah gave them the most comforting advice that they could ever receive: "Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, yours sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes" (Nehemiah 4:14).
In the process, these people did something extraordinary. They not only built a solid wall of protection, but they built it faster than any professional construction crew could have. Listen to the punchline of the story: "So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days. When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God" (Nehemiah 6:15-16). The Great God of Israel was back in town!
Build your walls
The parallels are obvious. The only thing different is the location on the map. We are surrounded by a culture that is hostile to our spiritual beliefs and bombarded by a world view that doesn’t share our moral convictions. A strong wall of protection is needed to keep our children’s hearts safe. Parents are the best candidates to not only build this wall, but to keep it maintained.
You might feel like you’re in over your head, but, in reality, God is all that you need to create a line of protection between your family and the antagonistic culture that surrounds you.
God doesn’t call us to run from these threats or cloister ourselves in evangelical enclaves. Don’t waste your time with all of those man-centred substitutes for the power and presence of God.
And whatever you do, don’t fear any of these threats. Just lay your foundation on the love of Jesus Christ. Erect boulders of clear, Biblical morals on top of that foundation and cement them all together with God’s amazing grace.
Oh, one more thing. Don’t be afraid to enlist your kids’ help. The only thing better than building a wall of protection around their hearts is letting them be part of the process. Then, relax, live life large and thrive in the luxury of God’s constant care.
Dr. Tim Kimmel is the author of Why Christian Kids Rebel and the award-winning Grace Based Parenting. He is also the executive director of Family Matters®, a non-profit ministry that equips families to appropriate God’s grace in every age and stage of life. For more information about Tim, his books and his conferences, visit FamilyMatters.net.
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