(Really) prioritizing the faith of children as we re-vision our lives

For those of you with children or grandchildren, or for those of you who lead or teach children and youth in some other way, I’m about to share something that might be a bit jarring. But there are times when some soul-rattling is in order. Let me share it with you, and then explain my reasoning.

Richard Mather imagined what children might say to their parents on Judgment Day after they realized that their parents had neglected to train and ready them for the things of God: “All this that we here suffer is through you: you should have taught us the things of God, and did not; you should have restrained us from sin and corrected us, and you did not; you were the means of our original corruption and guiltiness, and yet you never showed any competent care that we might be delivered from it… Woe unto us that we had such carnal and careless parents, and woe unto you that had no more compassion and pity to prevent the everlasting misery of your own children.”

When I first read that I found it so very disturbing. I thought of my own children saying those very things on Judgment Day… about me! Talk about shock and guilt! Maybe you had the same reaction.

The intent of Mather’s words is to snap parents to attention. Parenting is a high and holy calling. Sometimes we get it right—and sometimes we don’t!

Here’s my point. As we emerge from the pandemic, what many of us are discovering is that our lives need to be rebuilt from the ground up. What are our priorities going to be? What are we going to spend our time doing, or not doing? Where are we going to place our attention and energy?

Don’t get me wrong. God is the ultimate author of a young person’s faith. And life is a long game. But we do have a God-ordained role to play.

As we reshape our lives in this new era, is the faith and discipleship of our children on the top of the priority list? It should be.

Oh, and remember that it’s never too late to start—or to start again.

Let’s live Proverbs 22:6: “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”


–*Leland Ryken, Worldly Saints: The Puritans as They Really Were (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986), 79.

–This Sunday (May 8, 2022) I return to the pulpit to preach on John 5:1-18. Since God continues to be at work in the world, so are we!

–Bible quotes are from the NIV.

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