If you are concerned about your child’s spiritual development, you probably seek to place him or her in the best environment out there.
What if I told you that the best spiritual environment was none other than your home?
Psalm 127 helps guide us to what real parenting should look like. Somewhere between the psalm’s title and the beginning of the first verse, you will find a specific description of this chapter. This particular psalm is “A Song of Ascents.” Written by Solomon, this type of psalm had a unique context with which it was to be used.
As families would leave their individual homes, they would ascend the hill of Jerusalem and ascend the steps outside the temple to gather together for worship. Along the path into the temple, priests would be stationed and provide the traveling music to prepare the incoming families for worship. The songs they sung on these steps were called the Song of Ascents. As you read the psalm, envision your church’s pastors singing this over you as you walk into the sanctuary this Sunday.
Psalm 127 Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
2 It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.
3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one’s youth.
5 Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
As you consider a group of priests singing along the pathway into worship, did you catch the gravity of their words? As families left their individual homes to gather together as one family of faith, the priests sang in their ears as they passed by: “It is vain to build a home if the LORD isn’t the center of it.” What were they implying?
It is a waste of time to call on the LORD in His house if you aren’t calling on Him in your house.
- Sure, you can build your home on numerous things, but if it steers in a direction that the LORD hasn’t directed, it is a waste of time (Ps. 127:1).
- Every parent watches over certain areas in their children’s lives, but if you aren’t looking over the spiritual matters, the oversight has been in vain (Ps. 127:1).
- You can even lose countless hours of sleep anxious about your family, but the LORD promises to give rest to those who concern themselves with the essential things (Ps. 127:2).
Helping your child be present in spiritual environments is great, but you also need to prioritize that your home is able to facilitate such a focus as well. While groups, camps, and churches are great, your family needs a home that encourages spiritual growth. So many families are running themselves ragged just like this psalm describes. We build, watch, and worry over plenty of things, but are we concerning ourselves with spiritual matters?
The Most Critical Spiritual Environment
Involve your children in ministry environments, but don’t shortchange yourself either. God has called, equipped, and positioned you to make the most spiritually transformational impact on your child. More than anyone else, you have the opportunity to display a daily example that will change your child’s life forever.
The most critical spiritual environment for your child is the one in which he or she lives.
The psalm reminds us that our children are “indeed a heritage from the LORD, offspring, a reward” (Ps. 127:3). Your child is a gift. Even on days when parenting may feel like a burden, your child is always a blessing! A parent is like an archer, shaping and sharpening the arrow that is your child (Ps. 127:4).
- How are you sharpening your child?
- To which target are you aiming?
Every parent is sharpening a child for some purpose. Every parent is aiming a child to some target. Are your efforts aligned with God’s? If not, you might be working in vain. What are some things that you could prepare to do differently to sharpen your child?
An archer understands that the arrow can go further and faster than he or she ever could. If you want your child to be launched out into this world to go to battle for a King and His Kingdom, how will you do your part in this preparation phase?
Prioritize your child engaging in life-changing environments, but also work so you can provide a life-changing home.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.