by Pastor Ben Holden
I have had a lot of influential people in my life.
Some have shaped me as a man, as a father, as a pastor, others academically, and a strong handful have influenced my walk with Christ. Each person who has positively influenced my life has taught me things by speaking truth. There have been times in a classroom setting, sitting across from one another over a cup of coffee or a meal, and other times it has been through conversations, both intentional or during everyday conversations. But if I look back at what impacted me most through each of these relationships, it wasn’t direct instruction that impacted me the most (although those times were of incredibly high value!), it was watching how these people lived, engaged others, and navigated through different situations.
I’m a fairly observant person. I like to observe, process, analyze, and then draw conclusions from what I have experienced. I have learned so much through simply spending time with different people that I respect. I have learned how to lead and shepherd people by watching and spending time with pastors and church leaders who have far greater experience (and often times giftedness) than myself. I can’t begin to tell you how valuable this has been in my life. The same is true when spending time with other husbands, dads, and men. One area that I have noticed this form of influence impacting me the most is in my spiritual life.
I was blessed to not only grow up in a strong and stable Christian home, but also in a solid and vibrant church. I had a number of people that entered my life through this church that emulated what it looks like to live a life of faith in Jesus Christ. I was able to watch how they lived, how they reacted, what they prioritized, and how they engaged with others around them, with every step being driven by the gospel.
As parents, we have an incredible opportunity to teach our children about who Jesus is and what He did for us.
We get to teach them how the gospel impacts our lives and how that should impact our thoughts, actions, and words. This teaching, whether it is through intentional times or during everyday conversations is critically important. But I can’t help but to be challenged with the truth that the greatest influence I will have on my kids is through them watching me live my life. Whether they know it or not, they are watching us and learning.
How often has someone told you that you are a lot like your dad or your mom? Some of us brim with pride when hearing this, others of us shudder at the thought. The fact remains that we are a lot like the people we spend the most time with. We pick up habits, viewpoints, mannerism, priorities, and values.
Mom and Dad, always remember that you have been given a mission field that is called your home.
Day in and day out, moment by moment, you have an incredible opportunity to influence the spiritual life of your child by how you live. It will help to shape their worldview, their habits, and their normal. So my challenge is this (and it is a challenge to myself as well!), is your everyday life impacting your children for the sake of the gospel?
This is a sobering challenge, but I hope it is also encouraging. Keep fighting the good fight for the hearts of your children. Know that they are watching and that you have been given the incredible opportunity to shape the heart of your children through your own everyday life in Christ.