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Fight for the Heart

Disclaimer: All these thoughts originated from my study of Orange.   They are specifically taken from the Essence of Family teaching given by Reggie Joiner, and can be found in his book, “Think Orange.” This is a fantastic book, and if you work with churches to reach kids then this should be your Manifesto!

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Five Essential Parenting Skills

2. Fight for the Heart

Deuteronomy 6:5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

The only thing that separates a living faith from a ritualistic orthodoxy is one word, one idea, and one compelling force: LOVE.   I know this is true, but I also know that it’s not as easily demonstrated.   I have often enough put my frustration, disappointment, anger, and inadequacy on full display for my kids to see.   My tendency is to always want to explain the “Why?” behind the rules, instead pointing my kids toward a loving God that seeks to protect them.   The problem with reasons for the “Why?” is that you can debate them.   What you cannot debate is a trusted relationship.

Moses knew that respect for the rules is a by-product of trust.   In Deuteronomy 6:20-25, he addressed the very response they were to give to their children when they questioned the meaning behind the laws.   Moses instructed them to remind their children of what God had done.   He wanted the children to know the God behind the laws.   He knew that only obedience motivated by love stood a chance to succeed.

As parents we have to demonstrate to our kids that we have rules and standards of behavior that we expect of them.   But more importantly, we need to demonstrate to our kids that we love them.   We need to show them that we can be trusted.   But how?   It’s easy really.   Does your kid ever mess up?   Do they ever let you down with their actions?   Do they every deliberately disobey the things that you tell them to do?   If they don’t then write that “How To” book, and I’ll be first in line to purchase it.

If they do screw up occasionally, then there you have it.   The unpredictable and rebellious actions of my kids provide the perfect opportunity for me to demonstrate a consistent message to them.   The message that I will forgive them over and over and over again.   The message that I can be trusted.   That I love them.   When I fight for the hearts of my children, I establish a lifestyle of proving that I can be trusted.

I choose to Fight For the Heart of my family by loving God with all of my heart.

Jonathan Cliff is married to his wife Starr and they together live out their days with two sons and a daughter. Jonathan serves as one of the Pastors at Grace Community Church in Clarksville, Tennessee; where he works with leaders throughout the city to help develop Christian community that leads to deep and meaningful spiritual friendships. His journey has been an adventurous one, having served in the local church for 15 years in family ministry developing leaders, building environments for kids and students to belong, and encouraging parents to take big spiritual steps with their families.