It Takes Time, Start Now

At prayer meeting the other meeting a lady mentioned visiting her grandchildren in the Big City. One of the grandchildren is into hockey (not the biggest sport in Texas), so she went to watch one of his games. In the rink next to the one where he was playing, she saw 4 year olds out learning hockey. We start them mighty young, don’t we?

Have you heard of the Dads out there who want their sons to become the next great quarterback or pitcher? They start drilling them while they’re in preschool, never letting up. That’s how Tiger Woods got where he is, so we think that’s the way to go.

Study after study tells us it’s the same with education. If we want our kids to be well educated, we need to start while they’re young. We need to read to them, talk to them, and interact with them so they will become curious about the world around them and start picking up the tools to explore it. Educators lament that they don’t have the money to start the programs to pick up the kids whose parents have dropped the ball on this. Now education is different from hockey, quarterbacking and golf. Though many can become skilled in these sports, it seems much easier for the multitudes to become proficient in their educations.

What about our relationship with God? Are parents so determined for their kids to grow up living in and exhibiting the love of God that they start them early on the road of being a disciple of Jesus? What’s the difference?

One key difference is in the role of exemplars. Quarterbacks emulate Peyton Manning. Golfers want to be the next Tiger Woods. In education, we are surrounded (on TV) by doctors, lawyers, and scientists (not all mad), modeling a life of learning. But who do we look at for a model of discipleship?

Surely we have many local models – the experienced saints in our local congregations – who have been long-time followers of Jesus, who have learned much of the “obedience of the faith,” and whose lives are models of holiness. Or do we? I see at least three problems in this area: First, many modern Christians eschew the discipline that comes with following Jesus. We have many long tenured members, but they’re often more known for being crotchety than for being holy. Second, because of our misunderstanding of the nature of humility, we’re loath to lift up the didactic and attractive role of holiness. Third, out notion of holiness is too tame. Our athletic kids want to grow up to be like Peyton Manning & Roger Clemens – not a water boy or a bat girl. As long as our public example of the Christian life is nothing more than going to church on Sunday, attending meetings, and not being as bad as so and so, why would anyone want to do it?

In the bible the Christian life – the life of holiness – is a life of following Jesus. It’s dangerous – it’s not for nothing Jesus tells us to take up our cross. They’re conflict involved. Real loss – and real victory – awaits us. What we do in response to Jesus can make an eternal difference in the lives of the people around us.

Parents – keep your eyes open for the next Lydia, Paul, Phillip or Priscilla. Show them to your kids. Tell your children, “See what they’re doing? It takes a lifetime of discipleship to get to that level. Let’s start now!”

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