Anyone who’s been on an airplane is familiar with the pre-flight safety information. The flight attendant stands at the front of the plane and demonstrates seat belt instructions, the two-finger point to each of the plane’s exits and, of course, the oxygen mask protocol.
All the directives make sense until we get to the oxygen masks. When the flight attendant instructs parents to put the oxygen mask on themselves first and then administer life-giving oxygen to their children, the instruction seems counter-intuitive. Wouldn’t every parent want to give their child the oxygen mask first?
It’s often the same with Christian parenting. We can become so focused on teaching our children about Jesus, that we miss out on our own deep, abiding relationship with Him.
So what is the first priority of a Christian parent? The seemingly obvious answer is to introduce our children to Jesus. But just like the oxygen mask, our own relationship with Jesus should be our first priority. I breath in Jesus first, and then help cultivate a relationship between my children and the Giver of Life.
When Jesus was asked which is the greatest commandment in the law, He replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Jesus then followed with the second greatest commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:36-40) From this sequence we see the first priority – even above our loving and serving others, including our children – is our own relationship with the Lord.
Before I can be committed to anyone else’s relationship with Jesus, I must first be committed to my own relationship with Him. I cannot care more deeply about my spouse’s, my children’s or anyone else’s relationship with Jesus until I am abiding deeply with Him.
I often think about the end game of parenting. What will I look back and wish I’d done more of (or less of)? I know for certain there is no scenario in which I’ll wish I’d spent less time with Jesus, less time being informed by God’s Word or in prayer. In reflecting on the life I’ve lived so far, my regrets mainly stem from thinking, speaking and acting in a way that is not informed by reading the Bible, prayer and quiet time.
As we raise our children to know Jesus, we must focus first on our own spiritual disciplines and make Jesus our first priority. When we don’t seek Him first, we are putting other, lesser things in His place. Other imperfect things. Other weaker things that will always fail us.
It is my joy and passion to tell other people about Jesus, including and especially my children. But sharing Him with others must be a result of my relationship with Him. I cannot coast on fumes and Biblical facts, but must speak and act out of the overflow of being with Him. Anything less and I’m just peddling counterfeit goods and not the richness and fullness of the One who is holy, just, righteous, true and loving to the point of absurdity.
If you are looking for ways to deepen your relationship with Jesus, start by simply praying, “Jesus, I want to know you more.” Open your Bible and spend time reading God’s Word. In addition, here are some wonderful daily devotionals you can use to help grow your faith. Click on the links below for more information about each daily devotional.
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33