3 John 1:4 – I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. (NIV)
Bringing up kids is no easy task. Bringing up kids whose parents are in the ministry can be daunting.
When the Committee on Ministry interviewed me for the position at Erin, one of the elders asked me what family devotions I did with my wife and kids.
"None," I said, which drew some frowns and quizzical looks from the committee. I thought I had blown the interview, but the chairperson asked me to explain my answer.
I told them that in my ministry, I had come across children of pastors who were rebellious, destructive, and unattached to the church as adults, simply because they had been forced to live holy, perfect, and constrained lives as children. Their mothers and fathers believed that they should have been the best example of Christian children in the parish. Years of sacredly suppressing them had resulted in major emotional explosions when they were teenagers, which ultimately caused them to leave the church and become totally antagonistic against religion. I didn't want this for my kids, so Evelyn and I decided to bring them up like everyone else.
Some members on the committee were nodding their heads, as if they understood and had experienced some of that rebelliousness in their own households. But one of the members took me to task and asked if I were not abandoning my kids' spiritual growth by not having family devotions.
I looked at him and gave him an answer he didn't expect. Christmas had just taken place several days before the interview.
"Do you know what my children asked to have as gifts for Christmas this year? They both asked for Bibles. Evelyn and I didn't prompt them about this. Their request came from their hearts because they love Jesus and want to learn more about God."
The questions ended, and I was unanimously approved to become the next pastor at Erin. Through the years, I have experienced the same great joy of the disciple John, that of watching my children walking in the truth.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, our children are precious to us and their souls are priceless. We want them to walk in Your ways and to become people of faith. Keep us from suppressing their spirits by constraining their lives. Help us to teach them the beauty of Christianity through loving them and giving them the freedom to learn about You in their own time and in their own way. In Your holy name, we pray. Amen.