Can I share a secret with you?
It’s a secret that you already know if you’re a parent – one that we really all know, and yet we don’t say out loud very often. You ready? From one parent to another?
None of us really know what we’re doing.
Not really. Sometimes we are pretty good at faking it, but in the end, parenting is about faith. Every single day, my wife and I are probably just like you are – you pray, you talk, you decide, and then you second guess whether you’ve made the best decision or not. You have to move forward in faith that God, in His grace, might just take some of these feeble and misguided efforts on behalf of the children we love so much and redeem them in their hearts.
Now that we’ve acknowledged that we don’t know what we’re doing, let me point you to what might be the greatest ally we have in our parenting. It’s not a philosophy; it’s not a workbook; it’s not a psychology degree. Our great ally is time. Because time, when under the influence of the Holy Spirit, bring perspective, wisdom, and even transformation. It happens that way in our own lives, and it works that way in our children’s lives as well. Take, for example, one of the classic passage for parents when it comes to the spiritual development of their children:
Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates (Deut. 6:4-9).
You can pick out a lot of principles from these verses. They clearly emphasize the central place of God’s Word in our homes. They also teach us the importance of repetition in order for our minds to be formed around God’s Word. They further inform our understanding that discipleship in our homes is not just about a single devoted time but instead something that is ongoing throughout our days together. Beyond those principles, though, you see the thread of “time” running through them all.
Repeat them to your children. Talk about them in your home. Talk about them when you walk together. Talk about them in the morning and at night. It’s so obvious that it doesn’t even need to be explicitly stated – that in order to live in a home like this, then we must be spending time together. A lot of it, in fact. This is a very encouraging thing for all of us parents who don’t really know what we’re doing because if we commit ourselves to simply spending time together, then eventually, spiritual moments will present themselves.
To put it another way, quality time is a function of quantity time.
The inverse of the principle is also true – without quantity time there will never be quality time.
Imagine if you will you have a teenage son or daughter. You have grown distant from this child. Over the last few years, work has been hectic. The extra curricular activities have increased. As they have you have spent less and less time together. And I don’t mean “special” time – I mean just plain, old regular time. You haven’t gone for walks. You haven’t watched TV together. You haven’t eaten at the same table. There is always a device, a distance, or a distraction between you. And you hate that as a parent, so you pick out a specific 2 hour time frame on a weekend that you designate as “quality time.” You know what that’s going to be like?
It will be awkward because you are trying to manufacture quality time rather than allowing it to flow from quantity time.
So, parents, be encouraged today if you want to help see your kids grow in Christ. It’s easier than you think. Maybe the first step you need to make isn’t through some pivotal, life-changing experience. Maybe it’s with regular, everyday time together. And when you start putting in the consistent quantity time, the quality time will come along with it.