Are You Giving God a Bad Reputation With Your Kids?

Are You Giving God a Bad Reputation With Your Kids?
January 4, 2016 Matthew L. Jacobson

matthewljacobson-com_areyougivinggodBased on your parenting, what do your children think God is like? Do they have a general sense that God approves of them or that they better watch their step and look over their shoulder?

We’re told in the Word to raise up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4. How was I doing with that responsibility . . . the responsibility captured in the word, nurture? The experience our young children have with us is the basis of their first understanding of what God is like.  I came face to face with that sober reality when our daughter, Savoury, was eight years of age.

It was Sunday morning as the van turned down the road on the familiar trek to Church. Except, this morning, we wouldn’t be making the right hand turn leading there. We weren’t taking a different route. We wouldn’t be late. In fact, we weren’t going at all. We were going to the lake.

From the rearview mirror, I could see the concern oozing out of her heart and covering her brow with clouds. Her worry formed itself into a halting question, “Daddy . . . do you think God is okay with us not going to Church today? Does that make Him mad?” Imagining how God would take the decision, Savoury’s concerned eyes stared out into the trees passing by the side window. She was just sure God was angry about going to the lake instead of going to Church.

That sounds like God, doesn’t it? Angry at parents with little kids so exhausted from a season of intense medical trauma that the Dad opts for a once-in-a-blue-moon Sunday spent at the lake?

After all, isn’t God angry and disapproving most of the time?

I assured my little girl that God thought spending Sunday at the lake was a very good idea but it was well into the trip before her furrowed brow relaxed. Her little heart wouldn’t have put it in these words but what she was wrestling with was the question many of us have as children and pack like an overstuffed suitcase into adulthood: Does God approve of me? Does God even like me?

If our children have a sense of God’s general disapproval, the mirror is the best place for Dad and Mom to look for the reasons why. A sense of guilt for missing one Sunday in a zillion, really? Some serious soul-searching was in order for me. What had I done?  How had I parented her to cause worry that God doesn’t approve of us if we deviate even a little from the beaten path?

How many parents feel they have done enough to ensure their children grow up with the sense that God truly loves and approves of them? That He thinks they’re just great? We’re often pretty good on the “admonition” side but what about the “nurture” side of our responsibility? Clearly, as a young dad, I hadn’t done enough.

Dad & Mom, our children need to know, need to feel, our strong approval of who they are when they are young because in large measure, a child’s first perception and understanding of God’s view of them is a reflection of their relationship with us.

Through our parenting, do we communicate the message that our children are loved and approved of only when their behavior conforms to a given standard or do we communicate what every Christian young child needs to know?

God’s default position toward His children is that, like all good fathers, He truly loves them, approves of them . . . and from time to time, wants them to spend Sunday at the lake.

If you’re looking for help with messages of approval, encouragement, and value to speak to the heart of your children, check out this list of 101 Affirmations Every Child Wants to Hear from Dad and mom.

This week, what will your children “know” about what God thinks of them based on your parenting?

It’s something to consider deeply.

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  1. Emily 9 months ago

    What a wonderful reminder that our relationship is with God and that we need to nurture that same relationship style with our children. Yes, God wants us to fellowship, but sometimes the most beneficial fellowship is at the lake with our families celebrating all the wonderful gifts He has given us. You are absolutely correct that deviating from the path, often a path set by societal expectations, is what is best for our souls. A lesson I hope I am able to portray to my little girls, a lesson that will help reduce the anxiety of living, for life is full of “left” turns made both unplanned & purposely.

  2. Nicki 2 years ago

    I don’t think God would have been angry about you going to the lake, just sad.
    Sad that you didn’t want to guide your family and you to meet with him, spend time stopping what you were doing and praising him and having fellowship with others and encouraging them also by your presence. Just because it’s a sunny day and your happy doesn’t mean someone else in the body isn’t struggling and is greatly encouraged just seeing you and your family skip through the door.
    God loves us to worship him with our church family and i think your daughter was correct showing concern. Not that God would have been angry, but that it is good to meet and encourage others. And let God meet with you.

  3. Jeriame Zenzayer 2 years ago

    This smells of post modernism. It is a command in Scripture to not stop meeting together as some are in the habit of doing. Heb. 10:25) This refers to our commitment to God and our brothers and sisters in Christ. Really, it’s three hours out of the whole week, are we so busy that we cannot not spare it?

    We should be very careful speaking for God- ironically, this article could be reversed into saying “whoever causes on of these little ones to sin, better is it to be tied to a millstone and thrown into the sea”

    It may not be habit now, but it could cause your daughter to discard her devotion to God for doing whatever she pleases in place of church.

    • Matthew Jacobson 2 years ago

      Had you given due consideration the comment “once in a blue moon” and taken the time to read the linked article regarding the season of severe medical trauma our family was going through, you might have a more balanced perspective of what is being said. As a teaching elder/pastor of a local Church for over 12 years, the violation of Hebrews 10:25 is not part of the teaching my children, or the members of our Church, receive.

  4. Shawn 2 years ago

    Just a thought here that hit me as a read this. Take it for what it is worth:

    God wouldn’t so much be mad at you for missing church as disappointed that you do not find joy and rest in Him and His church on a Lord’s Day but rather find that rest in a day at the lake. I would think there was indeed something communicated. “If you are really, really stressed and tired you find rest at the lake with the family and not gathered with His church and brothers & sisters in Christ.” I think the child was asking a valid question in words of a child as her conscience worked on her: why are we breaking from scheduled fellowship with God, the one we love and serve above all else? Will that loved one be mad at us? Do we have a good reason to break that date and choose do something else?
    But, I think a valid question worth a thoughtful answer that would give her deeper insight into the nature of God and our relationship with Him. Not a symptom if bad parenting.

    One other thought, although God does hate sin and one primary sin is to not love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, which we all do every day at times. He can hate the sin in us and be angry with us for that sin and love us deeply all at the same time. So, we do not want to create a false, unbiblical dichotomy here to our children or ourselves.

    In Christ,

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