“When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice.” (ESV – Read the chapter)
How ironic and tragic it is that Samuel fell into the same error as Eli! While it appears he was even more faithful to the Lord as a judge than Eli was, Samuel’s sons were given positions as judges over Israel because of who their father was and, like Eli’s sons, were unfaithful failures in the positions as well.
As parents, it is absolutely imperative that we teach our faith to our children. Now, just because we teach it doesn’t mean they’ll accept it, but if we don’t teach it, we miss out on what’s most important for us as parents to do.
Hear that well: If you are a parent, passing on your faith to your kids is job one. Nothing surpasses that in importance. Too often we think that if we are providing for them well and meeting their needs and having them in church that will be enough. It isn’t. Teaching them the faith is number one.
Now, don’t hear what I’m not saying in this. I’m not saying they’re the most important. Your relationship with God is most important. Your relationship with your spouse is second in importance. Your relationship with your kids is third. If you get that order wrong you’ll create monsters, and you won’t have the support structure you need with your spouse because you’ll wind up having to do damage control on your marriage without a sufficient spiritual foundation to do it. That’s not a good situation. We will fail them if we put them first.
I’m also not saying that making sure they are happy and healthy is number one. If we put the happiness of our kids first, we will fail them too. Happiness is a nice side benefit, but holiness is the chief goal. Holiness is preferable to happiness because in the long run they’ll find more happiness in pursuing holiness than they will in pursuing happiness. Our culture’s preference for happiness at the expense of holiness is part of what has made so many people so unhappy.
Our goal must be to cultivate a healthy relationship with our spouse, to work hard, but never so hard that we make ourselves unavailable, to discipline firmly, but justly and with grace as our guide, and to take every opportunity we can to teach them in word and deed what it means and looks like to be a faithful follower of Jesus. That’s our job.