As a Nav staff woman becoming a mom, I wrestled with this question: I invest in other people’s kids on campus—what does it look like to invest in my own kids, even when they are young?
A friend led me to Deuteronomy 6:4-7:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
According to this passage, investing spiritually into our kids is not an event that only happens from time to time. It is a lifestyle we set as we model loving God with our full, imperfect selves, and as we teach our kids about the Lord and His Word, using opportunities throughout the day. I would like to share what this looks like for our family currently:
When you sit at home…
For us that is meal times—I have a dry-erase board by the kitchen table and have a passage of scripture or lyrics to a hymn that I work on memorizing with my kids (2 and up).
When you walk/drive along the road…
We have certain roads we find ourselves on regularly—that work as triggers to pray. As soon as we hit a specific exit or intersection, we pray for the day and each member of the family.
When you lie down…
We are not a big nighttime routine family. But, I have made it a habit to pray for each of my kids individually when I tuck them into bed. I put my hand over their heart and pray out loud my hopes for them as a Christ-follower one day—that they will say “yes” to the Lord no matter what He asks, that they will know how deeply loved they are by God, that they will stand up for those who don’t have a voice and be willing to stand alone, etc. Sometimes I will pray over them protection from things I hear our students struggling with. It’s a bit different every night (and shorter if we have guests!), but those moments right before they go to sleep are tender and sweet.
When you get up…
Right now, the best investment I can give my kids when I get up is for me to turn my thoughts to the Lord and spend some time with Him. I have found that me getting up before my kids also helps my attitude towards them. When they wake me up, I can be really grumpy! (Caveat–I do give myself freedom to sleep as long as possible in the mornings when nursing kids in the night.)
Dave and I pray that our kids will be our greatest contribution to the Kingdom. While we love and nurture and have fun as a family, we don’t want to miss that our responsibility as Christian parents is to pass on faith to our kids.
Recently, we were talking about some of the developmental things we have missed with our kids—we haven’t taught our girls to bat or catch a softball, my third grader’s handwriting is still not so tidy, and to be honest, I am not quite sure who knows how to tie their shoelaces yet. Our kids complain when we make them bathe more than twice a week—and just this year we started brushing everyone’s teeth each night. It is easy to think we’ve missed the boat as parents and feel guilt or shame. We could start to furiously add more to the schedule. But when I take a deep breath and zoom out, I am committed to this one responsibility above all others—I will invest spiritually and pray and give my all to these kids in hopes that they might truly know Christ and share Him with others.
And we don’t have to do it all alone! Along with grandparents and Sunday school teachers, we have so many student friends who love Jesus and have energy to offer. It is such a blessing to regularly have college students in our home who love Jesus and who model following Him—my kids think that spending time with Jesus, leading Bible studies, and sharing your faith in college is the norm. I love that! Our staff team has also been a blessing–this year each of our EDGErs took one of our kids out for a 121 (and ice cream) while Dave and I were out of town—they each felt so special. I’m grateful to have so many helpers as we raise our kids to know Him.
My hope is that this gives some ideas and spurs you on—without making you feel any pressure. Let each of us be led by the Lord to give what we can in our own unique expression!
This idea of “prayer roads” came from a great book, The Most Important Place on Earth (Spoiler Alert—it’s the Christian home) by Robert Wolgemuth
Linnette and her husband Dave began their marriage and Nav staff career eleven years ago (EDGE and SIT at Colorado State) and they currently lead the collegiate Nav ministries in Nashville. They have four children: Kate (8), Kylie (6), McKenzie (4), and Daniel (3). Linnette and Dave are passionate about the shared mission of raising up disciple-makers and raising up their kids.