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Planting Seeds of Faith
What kind of seeds are you planting in the fertile soil of your child’s life?

Most of us are familiar with Christ's parable of the farmer sowing the seed as recorded in Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23. We can learn a lot from this parable, particularly regarding the condition of our hearts and minds when receiving the seed sown by Christ. However, as a parent reading this parable place yourself in the shoes of the sower instead of relating only to the conditions of the soil. As a Christian parent your primary task is sowing the seeds of faith within the hearts and minds of your children.

What kind of sowing have I begun in my child's life? Are you sowing the seeds of the Kingdom of God, or are they seeds of your own sin and selfishness? When God entrusted your child to your care He presented you with a great challenge and responsibility. With that responsibility comes a choice. You can choose from which bag you draw your seed: that of your own pride and selfishness or that which glorifies God and promotes His presence in your child's life.

How do we sow the seed of God's Word in our children? How can we help our children to grow in their own relationship with their Lord? How can we teach our children about God's love?

This question is answered in Deuteronomy 6:5-9. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them to your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates."

This Scripture tells us that commitment is an essential element in leading our children to Christ.

First, we need to be committed in our faith to Christ. Without our own true commitment to Christ our words and actions are empty and hypocritical; they are mere gestures and empty expressions. There needs to be a congruence between the way we live and the values we teach our children. The weeds of sin will be present in sowing the seed of God's Word. That's part of our human condition. However the fact remains that we lead by our own example.

To be a good example, we need not be perfect, but we do need to have a firm foundation of commitment to our Lord: to "practice what we preach" challenges us to examine our own lives and priorities. If Christ is not the centre of our daily life, but something we do Sunday morning, we teach our children that Christ is a pleasant side-dish but not a necessary main course. The question we must ask is: What kind of model do I provide for my children?

Beyond our own commitment to Christ, we need a commitment to our children. This can mean several things. It   means that they are a priority in our life. Sometimes we take our children for granted, particularly when they are being difficult. Nevertheless, remember, they are precious gifts which God gave to you and they need your love, understanding and patience — particularly when they are being difficult! Here's another hard question: Does your child know that you appreciate her? Perhaps you should tell her.

With a commitment to our children comes the need to spend time with them. Being with them says that you love them and are committed to them. Spending quality time together also provides an opportunity to spread the seeds of Christian faith. This could mean turning off the TV and taking time away from your hectic schedule to listen, play, and laugh together. Everyday activities become the fertile ground upon which we sow the seeds of Christ's word. When we "walk along the road, when we lie down and when we get up" we teach our children about Christ by what we say and by how we act. Consider, then one final question: Do you spend enough quality time sharing your faith with your children?

Raising children is not easy. Perhaps it is the most difficult but rewarding task you will ever face. However, you achieve successful parenting through commitment to Christ and to your children. Commitment is a choice every day of your life, involving putting into action those things you believe to be true. Commitment takes hard work and can be a struggle, but the Holy Spirit creates miracles through our meagre human efforts. May Christ bless your commitment to Him and create miracles within your family.

Colleen Hammermaster, PhD, has a private counselling practice in Edmonton, Alberta.  

Originally published in The Canadian Lutheran, Vol 13, No 5, June/July/August 1998.




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