“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”
—Well-known Indian saying—
“You can’t make a horse drink, but you can certainly salt his oats!”
—Lesser-known Scheibner saying—
Don’t you wish you could just inject your kids with a passion for the church?
Wouldn’t a vaccination of Christian craving be helpful?
When it comes to fervor for the church and passion for it’s Head, I wouldn’t mind a little infectious disease sharing! (We share EVERY other disease that rears its ugly head… Why not passion?)
But, unfortunately, that’s not how it works.
Just like us, our kids are their own free agents. Just like us, they get to make a personal decision regarding their salvation, their commitment, and their passion. Just like us they can choose to follow Christ or choose to elevate self. (Sometimes both in the same day… Just.Like.Us!)
Just like us, they, and they alone, determine the wellbeing of their relationship with Christ, the church, and His community.
We can’t inoculate, vaccinate, or spoon-feed passion. However, we can, should, and MUST model passion if we want to see our children crave God, crave the church, and crave Christian community.
In other words, although we can lead them to the church, we can’t force them to worship… BUT… we can salt their oats and help them develop a hunger and thirst for spiritual things!
So, how do we salt their oats? How do we pass on a spiritual hunger and thirst?
It isn’t enough to just teach them to pray. It isn’t enough to simply read the Bible. It isn’t enough to memorize the scriptures, or sing scripture songs, or pray over meals, or attend the youth services, or… or… or… (You get the picture!) All those “things” are worthy and worthwhile, but none of those “things” will cause our children to develop a hunger and thirst for Christ. None of those “things” will prompt passion, or commitment, or a craving for Christ-focused living.
None of those "things" are a cure-all prescription for change!
Those “things” can build habits, (And that’s a good thing!) but they can’t change hearts. While habits can regulate our children’s behavior, only passion will transform their lives for Christ! That transformation will begin as our children see our commitment lived out through our passionate daily interactions with Christ.
And that is when they will begin to crave that same passion for themselves.
When they see us stop to help a homeless man simply because we’re moved by compassion, they will begin to understand our passion for Christ and our passion to represent Him accurately to a needy world.
When they see us extend grace and forgiveness when a harsh retort or retribution would be in order, they will begin to understand how a passion for Christ gives us a passion for unity and restoration.
When they see us choose to fellowship through serving with others, rather than focusing on our own desires and doing our own thing, they’ll begin to understand that passion for Christ finds a sweet fulfillment in oneness with the body of Christ.
When they see us give sacrificially when it just doesn’t make sense financially, they’ll begin to understand that our passion for Christ builds trust in the faithfulness and provision of Christ.
And when they begin to see, experience, and understand that passion with us… They’ll begin to crave, desire, and long for that passion themselves.
We won’t have to “teach” them to be passionate. Passion will be deeply and firmly planted in their hearts. Planted by the seeds of the passionate living they experienced in their homes as they watched us walk with, talk to, and obey the Lord Jesus Christ.
And when our kids develop that kind of passion… Look out!
We won’t be wondering why they aren’t involved in the church. Instead, we’ll be marveling at how they represent the church. How they represent the body. And ultimately, how they represent Christ!
Don’t let your salt lose its saltiness!
Instead,let your passionate commitment to Jesus fill your saltshaker to overflowing, then get busy salting your children’s spiritual oats!