Deuteronomy 6:4–9 is full of God’s most important guidelines for our lives. Verse 4 contains the theological foundation of our faith, and verse 5 is the most important command in the law. Verses 6–9 are the crucial passages on parenting in the Bible.
When God turns to parenting, he begins with the hearts of parents, not the hearts of children.
God is saying to us: first, focus on your own heart. These commands must be on your heart. Before they will be on the hearts of your kids, they must be on your heart. Model what you want to see in your children. If you want your kids to love God and obey God, let it begin with you. The first task of parenting is right here: love and obey your God. The word is authenticity. Parents don’t have to be perfect, but they do need to be authentic. Be the kind of person you want your child to become. The essence of parenting is not what we do, but who we are. The focus is not changing your children but changing you. Or, more accurately, letting God change you.
Albert Schweitzer, a brilliant philosopher, mathematician, and medical doctor who spent much of his life as a missionary to Africa, once remarked, “There are only three ways to teach a child. The first is by example, the second is by example, and the third is by example.”
In some ways, parenting is an overwhelming task. There are so many principles to know and follow. You need more wisdom than you’ve got. However, in some ways, the task is simple: Be the person God wants you to be. Be a man or woman who loves God and obeys God with all your heart. Be the kind of person you want your kids to become.