Over the past few days, I have received a decent amount of feedback on my most recent post Because They Are Watching where I basically state that I will not use this blog to comment on the more controversial topics that are taking center stage in our country right now and that we all should consider the fact that our children are watching us when we act and react to the various challenges.
I’ve been applauded. I’ve been reprimanded. I’ve been told I am doing an injustice to my kids by not taking a stand. I’ve been told that I don’t care about others.
Interestingly enough, no one actually asked me where I stand on the issues. From the response I received, I equally offended people on all sides of the issue. It also appears that I struck a chord with at least a few others as the blog was shared over 500 times in the first 24 hours. But I never actually stated an opinion. I just reminded us that when we act and react to situations, we are being watched and we need to measure our response accordingly.
I’ve been blogging at ReFocus Ministry for about nine months now. If you follow me, you know that my passion is seeing children engaged in the church, the home equipped as a place for faith formation and discipleship, parents and caregivers supported as the primary disciplers of their kids, and churches creating space for the whole body to worship, grow, and serve together. This is what breaks my heart. It is what keeps me up at night in prayer. It is what brings me the greatest joy in my walk with Christ. For whatever reason, God has placed this particular burden on my heart and given me the space to share it here.
That is not to say that I don’t have opinions, thoughts, beliefs or convictions about other things, because I do. However, I do not feel that this space is the place for me to expound on those things. My heart in sharing what I did on that last post was not to enter a political debate, a moral judgement, or a theological discussion. It was simply to remind all of us that our children are watching us, learning from each moment, and internalizing how they should react in the future.
Sadly, I feel like that message may have been lost in the emotional tension that currently surrounds the issues at hand. But that shouldn’t surprise me too much I guess as that message seems to have been lost for a much longer time than just my short blog.
Because we as a society have allowed many things to come in contact with our children and to fill their minds with things far beyond their capability to comprehend long before these current issues emerged. Our children see half-naked models on billboards and commercials, hear suggestive lyrics and foul language on the radio, watch news reports of violence and death on a regular basis, and see questionable magazine covers placed just at their eye level in the checkout aisle.
The reality is I think we forgot a long time ago that our children are watching.
The targeted commercialization to adult consumers with mature images and themes has gone on unchecked and while we as parents/caregivers do our best to monitor what our children see and hear, the reality is we can’t protect them from a larger society that doesn’t share our concern. But what we can do…what we must do…and what was the very impetus of my last post is monitor our own activity, words, expressions and reactions. Because we are fooling ourselves if we think that our children don’t hear our hearts in everything we say and do.
It is essential for us to understand that the very heart of faith formation and discipleship in our home doesn’t start with a Scripture reading at night or a faith talk on Friday. You know, those things are near and dear to me and I encourage them to happen and happen frequently! But that’s not where it starts.
It starts in our own hearts.
“You don’t get wormy apples off a healthy tree, nor good apples off a diseased tree. The health of the apple tells the health of the tree. You must begin with your own life-giving lives. It’s who you are, not what you say and do, that counts. Your true being brims over into true words and deeds.” (Luke 6:43-45 MSG).
Parents, caregivers, ministers, adults – It’s who we are, not what we say and do, that counts. That’s what comes out in our reactions. That is what manifests in our actions. That is what our kids are watching. And that is a message I feel is worth repeating, over and over again.
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About the author
Christina Embree is wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and family minister at Nicholasville UMC. She is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. Currently studying Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at ChildrensMinistryBlog.com