Day 2 of the Kingdom School Institute has come and gone, and I must admit it was a bit of a painful experience. You see, I got knocked down, and it wasn’t because I tripped and fell, no, I got punched in the gut, the head, and even the heart. It was a brutal, one-sided fight, and I deserved every. last. punch.
Why did this happen to me? The answer is simple.
I spent the better part of my morning with Dr. Taylor, one of the leaders of KSi and headmaster at Prestonwood Christian Academy. No, we weren’t sparring in a boxing ring, but he was definitely throwing some serious punches at me during his session called “Becoming a Kingdom Family.” Although I did go “down” (if you can follow my boxing analogy), I’ve not been knocked out…yet.
During the session, Dr. Taylor walked the delegates through the training that he makes available for the parents of his school at what they call their “Kingdom Parent Institute.” (To read more about KPi, you can click here.) The goal of the session was for the attendees to learn how to effectively implement a similar program at their respective schools.
While I am not going to delve into the specific strategies Dr. Taylor shared about starting such a program, I do want to share some of the ways that I was “light up” all morning long about how I parent my children. This may sound soft, but I found my eyes filling with tears a few times as I considered what I was hearing compared to what I have been doing at home. My hope is that those of you who have children will find benefit from some of what I learned!
First, when it comes to parenting our children, we need to keep the end in mind. The initial exercise he recommended was that we write down the characteristics we wanted our children to possess when they are 25 or 30 years old. The characteristics had to be more than simply writing something like, “I want my son/daughter to be godly.” We had to dig a little deeper than that, and Dr. Taylor challenged us to remember that we are living in an Acts 17 world, which means we need children who can defend their faith in our pluralistic society. In other words, we need Acts 17 disciples. As we would be reminded of later in the session, our children don’t become Acts 17 disciples by default.
The second area that really impacted me were the practical zingers Taylor offers parents. Some that stood out were:
- asking your children open-ended questions (and not just while you are “preaching” to them) is one of the top predictors leading to our children internalziing the faith;
- a child will not accept biblical absolutes unless a bridge of emotional closeness has been built (one small example is having family prayer time together and holding hands during prayer time-this may not be for everyone but just a quick example);
- during the teen years, children begin to discern the spiritual commitment of their parents, which impacts their response to biblical truth; and
- parenting styles that are either too authoritarian or too permissive drive children away from truth.
I’m sure that most FOCUS readers read those and think,”Matt, these are a no brainer,” but I recently heard someone say that the easiest things to do are the easiest things not to do. Undoubtedly, most of us know what we ought to be doing, but I wonder how many of us follow through with the things we know?
Third, from birth through high school graduation, we have about 6,570 days with our children before they fly out of our nest. When we take into account sleep, time at school, and homework, that leaves us about 2-3 hours per weekday (at best-especially when they are in middle and high school) to spend investing in and training our children. We have a relatively short time to get our children ready for adulthood!
Fourth, we must take deliberate action, which requires us to have a plan. I could write several pages about what I took away from this, but to keep it simple, Dr. Taylor encouraged us to have a Family Plan. A good family plan should encompass personal spiritual development, a development strategy for the marriage relationship, and a plan for the development of the children.
Taylor suggested refining the plan each year, and as children get older, to include them in the process. The plan should be reviewed weekly, evaluated at the 6 month mark, and contain daily, weekly, and monthly objectives.
There are so many other things to say about each point listed above not to mention the things that I did not include. However, my heart was challenged regarding how I parent my children, and I trust that something said here will spur you to consider your own family situation. I am confident that like me, many of my colleagues need to spend some time reevaluating and realigning their priorities.
You may get knocked down, but as long as you’re breathing, you’re not out!
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