When we think of shepherds in our life, we tend to think about pastors. Shepherds and sheep are the biblical imagery that we’ve been given for pastors and their congregations. The pastor keeps watch of his church as a shepherd keeps watch of his sheep.
When we think about it though, parents do the same thing for their children and more so. Parents spend the most time with their children. They live with them under the same roof. They feed them, provide for them, and instruct them .
However, when it comes to spiritual things, parents often want to leave that up to the church. When we think about it, that doesn’t make any sense! Here are five reasons your child needs you as their primary shepherd.
You See Them More Than Your Church Does
Parents see their kids much more often than leaders at church do. You have meals with them, you transport them for a large portion of their lives, and you live together. During these natural rhythms of life, there is plenty of opportunity for conversation. God gives parents these natural rhythms as constant opportunities in life to be pointing their child’s affections toward Christ.
You Know Them Better
Influence happens when someone is known and trusted. Your child knows you and sees you at your best and worst and vice versa. In constantly doing life together, your child sees that you love them and are for them. Parents should leverage this influence to be teaching their children about the God who knows them and loves them perfectly.
You Have Authority in Their Life
God has made you the primary authority in your child’s life. Parents use that authority to discipline and build their children’s character. It only makes sense to also use that authority to show your children grace and mercy. This can be used as a teaching tool to point your children to God. We have all rebelled against His authority and we deserve His punishment, but He has shown us grace and mercy in Christ.
God Commands That You Be the Primary Shepherd
Ultimately, God has revealed in Scripture that He expects parents to be the primary shepherds of their children. He doesn’t command the church to do it, a school club to do it, or anyone else. He has placed this unique responsibility on parents and parents will answer to Him one day for how they stewarded the children He entrusted to them.
Schools and Culture Never Stop Trying to Shepherd Your Children
If your child goes to public school, they are being indoctrinated five days a week for the majority of the year. Much of that learning is good, but I would bet you don’t agree with it all. The music, movies, and television they pay attention to are also all trying to shepherd their hearts and influence their thinking.
As a parent, it is your job to know what they’re being taught and to study their cultural affections and show them what God says about these things and help them see why His way is better and worth following. We can’t slack when it comes to this.
When we think about it this way, it just makes sense that we can’t leave the primary spiritual responsibility to our children in the church’s hands. The church should be seen as an aid and useful tool, but your children are your responsibility. My prayer is that in realizing this, parents would seek to know and love God better themselves.