Over the past 3 months, it seems like all I can think about is the future. Besides marriage, one of the primary topics about the future I’ve been thinking about is my future children. I told God that I made a decision – I decided that I was going to have the perfect kids. They will read their Bibles every day, and get excited about going to church on Sunday mornings, and there won’t be a hassle to get ready. Their Sunday School teachers will fawn over how cute and polite they are, they will never forget to say please or thank you, and they will never ever throw a tantrum or argue with each other. They will not center their lives around their smartphones, and when they get older, they will be excited about volunteering at church and helping out around the house… of course, not much help will be necessary, because they will keep my house spotless.
Of course I’m joking… but in all seriousness, I think a lot about the kind of mother I will be to my future children. I think about how I will react when one of my kids hits their brother or sister, or when they color on the walls, or when they’re 13 and they think I’m super embarrassing (not that that would ever happen, right?) What if my best friend Rachel comes to visit and they’d rather hang out with their aunt instead of me?!
Of course these things will happen; it’s a part of life. But I think about how I will react. I want to be a great example of Christ-likeness. Children learn by observing – I want my kids to see me praying when they hurt me, and then I want to pray with them, so they learn that God is a God of comfort and restoration. I want them to see that despite every day commotion, I prioritize my time with God, so they learn that nothing comes before Him. Christ is such an abstract concept to kids – they can’t hear Him audibly or see Him. As a member of the body of Christ, when I teach my kids about Him, I also have to demonstrate what it means to live for Him and like Him. I look forward to doing that.
“Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6).
Isn’t it so funny how the way we teach children is in direct relation to how we share Jesus with non-believers? The idea of God is also such an abstract concept to those who don’t believe. Like we want to train up children in the way of Christ, we also want to disciple others in the way of the Lord. Prioritization of servanthood, prayer, and daily reading is essential for our own personal walk, and is also crucial to being an example to unbelievers. Kids will either grow up viewing their parents as genuine followers of Christ, or people who go to church on Sundays out of obligation. Likewise, believers can either appear to be genuine Christians or hypocrites. As believers, we want to exude Christ so that everybody wants what we have. We want our children to crave Christ, and we do so by living for Him. It is the same way with unbelievers. A new church plant in Toms River has the mission statement “Wellspring Church exists to ignite a craving for Christ by relentlessly loving our community.” As parents relentlessly love their children, Christians also want to relentlessly love others.
Actions speak louder than words – Children won’t always remember what we say, they will remember what we do. The same is true with unbelievers. Faith without works is dead (James 2:14-20). While we’re not perfect, God is, and if we strive every day to be like Him, people will notice.
Erin Culleny serves as a Marketing Assistant and Staff Writer. She loves encouraging women through her Victory Calls and finds such joy in praying for her sisters in Christ. She is so excited that after 5 years on Summer Staff, she now has the opportunity to serve at Keswick year-round. Her favorite activities include reading her Bible, encouraging others with scripture, buying new dresses, and eating at the Cheesecake Factory… In that order!