Raising The Bar

Last night, our middle school parents small group talked about raising the bar.  Our discussion centered on our responsibility to teach godly values and principles in our homes.  We shared our concerns for the lack of boundaries and growing pressures to “lower the bar” that surround our kids as they’re bombarded by falling standards that exist all around them – especially in the media world of television, music, and internet.

During our conversation, two scriptures helped bring focus to our conversation.  In Deuteronomy 6:1-9, God instructs the Israelites to talk to their kids about God and God’s commands morning, noon, and night.

These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, promised you.

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.  Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

There are so many great ways to live this out in our families.  Praying with your kids at bedtime is a great place to start.  Taking them to church where they can hear more about God is a wonderful next step.  Parents worry that they don’t have the biblical knowledge to spiritually lead their kids, but there are some great resources out there to help.  Our family is currently using Fuel: Devotions to Ignite the Faith of Parents and Teens (Focus on the Family Books), a devotional by Joe White.  As we wrap up dinner together, we take turns reading from this book.  This gives us a time to talk about God’s Word and how it applies to our lives.  Finally, I would recommend leaning into other parents.  Being part of a small group like ours is a big help.  This group often acts as a sounding board for parents as we strive to become better parents while dealing with the joys and challenges of parenting.  It’s also a great idea to find parents who can be your example – perhaps they’re a few steps ahead of you in the parenting journal.

The second scripture that we talked about in our group came from Paul’s letter to the Colossians.  In this passage, Paul instructs readers to put off the “old” things that represented our lives before knowing Christ, and he teaches us to focus on “new” things that point us in the right direction.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.  Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.  You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.  But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.  Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

As we talked about this scripture, we were all challenged to consider our role in helping our kids to live this out in light of the media that could come into our homes.  We were encouraged to post these words at our computers and by our TV remotes as a reminder to raise the bar on the things that enter our minds.

How do you raise the bar for your family?