Focus Your Kids on Worship

God's ultimate goal is not for you or your child to be happy. God's goal is for you to worship Him. He'll even bring about hardships as a wake-up call for us (see Amos 4:6-13).

When my child has either an enjoyable or distressing experience, that is an opportunity to worship. But as a natural creature, he usually misses that (as do we). He focuses on the physical experience, and misses the spiritual. He must know and remember that the physical, emotional, and spiritual realms are directly connected.

As parents, we must work to continually remind our children that their lives are an intersection of the physical, emotional, and spiritual worlds. You can do this by remembering the sequence: circumstances - emotions - worship.
  1. Circumstances.  A child's life will be full of ups and downs. The ups include: good grades, meaningful friendships, success in sports, praise on good looks, having money, etc. The downs include: poor grades, unkind peers, perceived lack of talent, stress over appearance, lack of wealth, etc. These are a part of life and must not be casually dismissed. Additionally, as you disciple your children, don't make it your primary goal to create more good experiences, or minimize the bad.
  2. Emotions.  Good circumstances (such as listed above) lead to a child feeling happy and fulfilled. Bad things lead to sadness, fear, or anger. Many parents stop at this level, thinking that once you get passed the physical level, then you are able to get to the crux of the issue. But don't stop at engaging your child's emotional reality; help your child understand his or her spiritual reality.
  3. Worship.  Beyond the child's physical and emotional experiences, you must get her to understand and engage her spiritual reality. She is a child created in God's image, and she is intended to worship Him. So, when good things happen in a child's life, she will usually feel happiness; in those situations, remind her to praise the One who has blessed her. And when a child sins and fails to trust in God and God's will, she should feel sad. But don't let her remain there; that is the opportunity to remind her to repent of her sin. Praise and repentance are forms of worship.
In summary, there are some common mistakes that parents make in this process:
  • Focusing on the circumstances of your child's life. There is more to life than the physical reality. 
  • Focusing at the emotional level. Don't stop at this level either. Life is more than physical truths and emotional responses to those truths. (Even demons have emotional responses -- James 2:19.)
  • Trying to jump straight to worship. This mistake may not be as obvious. In an effort to be spiritual leaders for our kids, we often ignore the physical and emotional realities. But worship is most meaningful in the context of your life's situations. 

The next time something good or bad happens in your child's life, and he feels happy or sad about it, be sure to help direct him towards a heart of worship.

(Note, I want to be clear that the purpose of this post is regarding personal worship, not corporate worship. I do think that corporate worship is important, so I've written about responding to my child who didn't want to go to church services. But in this case, I want to address getting to a heart and life of worship.)

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