A YEAR ago, a schoolmate of mine, now an assistant pastor at an Assemblies of God church, asked me what my primary ministry was.
I said, “My wife.”
She laughed, “No, I mean in church. Do you see your main ministry as the youth or prayer or what?”
And I continued my unconventional chant, “My wife.” I said I am called to love her and it is my mission to help her draw nearer to God, to build her up in the Lord, so that we can make a great family. She is the one with whom I am going to spend the rest of my life and whom I will love even more the other side of glory. She is one of God’s greatest gifts to me. She and I are one flesh.
I am reminded of a story a brother pastor is fond of telling. It seems that there is this top woman executive of some Fortune 500 company who was quoted as saying that, of all the retired people she met, she never heard anyone say their greatest regret was not working harder. But she heard many say they regretted not spending more time with their families.
Similarly I think that when I retire as a pastor, I wouldn’t mind so much not conducting more Bible classes as I would not loving my wife more. So I plan never to regret not spending more time with my wife and family. I know my church members will not regret I did not plan more activities in church, but we would all regret having a family far from God. My legacy should first and foremost be a Christian family living in awe of God and doing His work wherever He has placed them.
How about all the business of saving souls from hell and all that? I am not saying we neglect these responsibilities and duties. I am merely stressing that love begins at home. If I have to equip Christians to spread the Gospel, I have to equip my wife and children as well. And if I have to tell others about Jesus, I should start with my own family.
I have been told that some children of pastors and missionaries rebel because they see what hypocrites their parents are: holy Christians in church or in front of others, but completely different creatures at home. If we are to be Christians, it starts at home.
The Old Testament tells us that in Israel it was the duty of parents to instruct their children in the ways of the Lord, to bring them up in the knowledge of God.
For example, in Deuteronomy 6:5-7 Moses said: “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”
The classroom for religious education was not in the synagogue; it was in the home. Parents are to know the Word and teach their children.
Even in the New Testament, the qualifications for church leaders and pastors in 1 Timothy and Titus include managing good households and having children who believe.
Unfortunately, too many parents abdicate their responsibility for Christian education.
Some say it is up to the children to choose when they are old enough to make an informed decision. Agreed, but surely parents can help children arrive at the right decision? If it is okay for parents to choose which primary schools children go to, it is okay for them to choose to help lead them to eternal life.
Some parents prefer to leave Christian education to Sunday School or Children’s Ministries. No, this is too important a task to leave entirely to others. Regretfully, some parents have no choice because they don’t know the Bible themselves. They have been in church for years, but they haven’t taken the time to know the Bible enough that they can teach their own children.
It is never too late to start! You can decide to make a difference now in your family. There are so many ways you can increase your knowledge of the Bible and of God. You can help your family draw nearer to God today! Make your commitment now!
Will we ever see the day when all parents are just as concerned with how their children stand in the Kingdom of God as they are with how they do in school?
I tell you, it begins with me. It begins with you.
Teach your family to love God more.
The Rev Chiang Ming Shun is the Assistant Pastor at Kampong Kapor Methodist Church.