This originally appeared as a devo on whillschurch.org
As I’m prepping for this week’s message on Abraham and Isaac, it occurs to me how much is said about Abraham’s faith and how little about Isaac’s. I mean, Isaac was the one that the promises of God actually were fulfilled through. He – meaning Isaac – obviously was a man of faith. Imperfect? Absolutely – but still a man of great faith. That didn’t just happen. He got that faith somewhere, learned it – saw it in action namely in the life of his father – Abraham.
So how did Abraham transfer his faith to Isaac so that one day it was no longer just Abraham’s but Isaac’s?
I think about that question often. Not necessarily specific to Abraham and Isaac but for me. To the guys I’m discipling. My kids. And transferring faith is a bit different (and more involved) than just transferring religious activity. I can train my kids to be at the church every time the doors are open, make sure they wear the right things, say the right things, and behave the right way. I can do all those things and still not have transferred my faith. Behavior is part of the solution and I do believe that discipline helps mold our faith…but behavior itself is not the goal, shouldn’t be the goal. The goal is be closer and more like Jesus. It’s behavior that’s different because of a heart change is what we are after.
I’m still processing all of this but here is my list so far.
1. You have to have a faith to transfer. Religious activity is not faith. It may be evidence of our faith or it may be evidence of our hypocrisy. Before I can transfer anything, I have to have something to transfer. So I must always be developing and deepening my relationship with Jesus.
2. It’s a transfer – not a transplant. I can’t force feed my beliefs to my kids. There are days when I wish I could. Particularly when it comes to fashion and sports teams. But any forcing is just going to back fire. That doesn’t mean they get a free pass on behaving like an idiot either. While they don’t have to believe what I believe, they do have to grow up, be mature, and be a positive contribution to our society. At least – that is what I am going to try to teach them to be.
3. They need to see me wrestle with my faith. Don’t freak out about this – but I don’t always know what to do. As a husband, as a parent or as a pastor. There are times when my faith (and my kids) completely befuddles me. (I have been waiting a long time to use that word in a post.) I’ve often sat down with my kids and just flat out told them – I have no clue what to do in this situation. Any thoughts?
I am not comfortable with Abraham hearing a voice to sacrifice his son. I’m not comfortable with the question about those who have never heard the Gospel. I don’t like everything that Jesus says because it means I must continually be changing. I think my kids need to see this.
4. They need to see faith based decisions in action. This means – we get up and go to church not because I am the pastor but because this is what we would do if I was a truck driver. Or a sports radio host – my other profession that I would love to try. The things we do concerning church – we would do regardless of my employment. We tithe regardless of my job. We serve and coach and other things because – you get the point.
5. They need space to question and to figure some things out on their own. I try not to freak out when one my kids says something theologically – stupid. I admit I am better at this when the subject is anything but dating.
6. They will need a ‘3rd Voice.’ This is probably the most important. The first voice is us as parents. They hear this voice all the time. As they get older, our voice lessens – in their ears. The second voice is their peers and friends. As stupid and ridiculous as their peers may be – there are also those who are deep and significant. And this group becomes the loudest during the teen years.
The third voice is another adult. Could be a coach, a youth pastor or small group leader – or a gang leader. This voice is huge.
In an ideal world – all three of these voices are working together to help the teen hear clearer His Voice. That’s the goal of all of this anyway – to grow my kids up so that they hear His Voice above all others – even my own.
Obviously – ideal isn’t reality. So I pray and ‘stack the deck’ so that this third voice is pointing them to Jesus.
This isn’t an exact science. It’s more like art. But I’m praying that we will have multiple generations that continually get better at this.