Strengthening Spiritual Wings
In the hallway of my house hangs a sign. On that sign are written these words, “There are two gifts we must give to our children. One is roots, the other is wings.”
The idea is simple. Parents ought to be a source of support and stability to their children throughout their lives, but they also must provide their children with the tools and skills they need in order to be successful when they inevitably fly away. At some point, our children will be responsible for their own spiritual journey. I can’t do it for them. Our culture gives us 18 years to influence them, 18 years to mold them. We have 18 years before we must clasp them in our hands, toss them toward the skies and pray that they’re able to fly. Which means while they remain in our charge we must focus our energies helping them become strong enough, spiritually-minded enough, to fly when that moment comes. What can we do as parents to strengthen our children’s wings and get them ready for flight?
There’s a great story in I Chronicles that supplies us with insight about how to do exactly that. The story centers around the construction of God’s temple. You may remember that King David first had the idea to build a house for the Ark of the Covenant. You may also remember that God rejected David as the man who would build that great edifice (II Samuel 7:1-7). Instead, the task would fall to Solomon, David’s son.
In this moment, David shows us the heart of a Godly parent. He knows he can’t build the house for Solomon, but he also knows he should do everything in his power to strengthen Solomon so that he will be ready to do what God has asked (I Chronicles 22:5). What can we do as parents to strengthen our children’s wings and get them ready for flight? We can do the same three things David did...
Tell Them About Their Mission
Before he does anything else, David tells Solomon about his mission. I Chronicles 22:6 tells us that David “charged” Solomon with the building of the temple. David tells him the whole story, about how he initially wanted to build it, about how God said “No,” and that God wanted Solomon to build it. David told Solomon that God had a mission for him. Solomon would not get to live a life of ease, enjoying the luxuries of the kingdom his father had build. God had work for him to do.
Our kids need to hear that same message from us. God has work for them to do. They don’t get to lazily bask in the successes of previous generations, and they don’t get to soar into heaven riding on the coattails of their parents or grandparents. They have their own lost to save, their own churches to build, their own false doctrines to tear down, their own persecutions to overcome. God has work for them, work that their parents can’t do for them. We strengthen our kids when we tell them about their mission.
Tell Them To Seek God
David also tells Solomon to stick with God (I Chronicles 22:11-13). He tells Solomon to trust God, to follow all the commands and to seek the wisdom and discretion of the Lord. Solomon’s success would depend on his relationship with God. Solomon famously requested wisdom when God offered him whatever he wanted. Have you ever thought that maybe he asked for wisdom because his daddy told him to (I Chronicles 22:12).
Our kids need to hear that same message from us. Their success in life will hinge on their relationship with God. High GPA’s, full-ride scholarships, medals and trophies, high-paying jobs are not the measure of one’s life. Real success is sticking close to the Lord. We strengthen our kids when we teach them that. And remember, that lesson is better seen than heard.
Give Them Tools
Finally, please notice that David gave Solomon the tools he required (I Chronicles 22:14-18). He amassed 100,000 talents of gold and one million talents of silver. He stored up so much material that the text says it could not be weighed. He set in place stone-cutters and masons, skillful men able to do the work. And David set up counselors who could advise Solomon after he was gone. All of these things were set aside and made available to Solomon so that when his time came he had what he needed.
Our kids need that from us. We need to give them tools, and don’t doubt it, there are many tools you can provide. You can give them a stalwart prayer life by making sure they’re praying and guiding them as they do. You can give them a robust scriptural knowledge by reading the Bible with them. You can give them self-control by teaching them how to reign in their passions. You can help them put on the armor of God. There’s a reason Ephesians 6:4 precedes Ephesians 6:10-18. These are tools you can provide. These are tools they will need and use. We strengthen our kids when we give them tools.
Their journey will be their own. We can’t fly for them, but we can do many things to make sure they’re able to fly. Let’s do that!