We have been thinking and talking a lot lately about idols. Growing up, and even into my adult years, I always pictured people deemed as idol worshipers as people who were literally bowing down to a man-made statue of stone or wood. Furthermore, I would also think how there probably aren't very many of those people left on the earth either. I kind of kept them in the category of the Israelites and the golden calf in the Old Testament. But modern day idol worshipers? Oh yeah, that's me.
Along with ourselves, our children are made to worship. It's instinctive. They are image bearers of God and therefore they are hard wired to worship. The only question is. "What will they worship?" Children are born with an intense imagination, an intense desire to discover, to be "wowed," to delight, to be awe-struck. They instinctively go about their days with the deep question in their heart about the reason for life, the reason for living. We live to worship...but what is it we are worshiping?
We are created by God to worship Him. To worship the God of the universe. So what happens when we are made to worship God and we don't?
They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator- who is forever praised. ~Romans 1:25We are created to be amazed. Our children are created to be amazed. We love greatness. This is why we love sports, an incredible American Idol performance, a dare devil stunt, or the way a kid is amazed by the "magic tricks" that only daddy can do. We are hard-wired to idolize.
Here's where I begin to really think about idols and what it means. Idols of the heart are anything that we worship over the one true God. It's subtle. It sneaks in. It can be those things we deem as our "hobby." Most of the time, I don't even notice. But in the quest to begin parenting Mekonen towards the greatness of God I become more and more attuned to the idols of my heart. Why? Because when I detect and struggle through the idols of my heart, I can help my children see and understand the idols of their heart.
Here's a suggested list of Idols of the Heart that we may see in our children (borrowed from an author we like)
Power and Influence
Maybe your child wants to control people. If allowed, they would call all the shots during play-dates and recess: what everyone plays and how each person has to play. They are the self-appointed coach, referee, line judge, and statistician. They have the sheer capacity to draw from others a desire to please them.
Pride and Performance
Maybe your child is only happy is they can do everything better than everyone else: win the game, score the highest on the math test, bike the fastest, sing the best, run the fastest, etc. The ticket for center stage is never too high. They will do whatever it takes. This idol is easy to miss because what parent or teacher doesn't like when their child or student excels? But the person who has God plus every imaginable skill and ability has no more than the person who has only God. Those children driven to perform crave praise. They are addicted to it. In a way that might sound offensive to a parent, they are seeking to be worshiped.
Maybe your child is possessive of their things. They are selfish with their belongings, and very reluctant to share. They will pour over magazines and tv commercials and try to get you to buy all the cool stuff they see. They don't want anyone touching their stuff.
Pleasure and Sensuality
Maybe your child loves the rush of going places and doing things. Life is great when they are doing something new and exciting. They crave excitement and adrenaline rushes from things like riding bikes off a ramp or racing down a ski slope. They get bored easily without a thrill.
Fear of Man or the Desire for Approval
Maybe your child is worried what others will think of their shoes, their hair, their clothes, or their ideas. These worries can be paralyzing to this child. Or teens ignore their siblings at school out of embarrassment because they want approval from their peers. They will do wrong rather than be uncool and are addicted to the attention of others, no matter what the cost.
Maybe your child places their worth on their friends, or the amount of friends they have. They are more loyal to their friends than their parents. They would deceive their parents before "ratting out" a friend.
Being "In the Know"
Maybe your child has to know the latest movie, CD, or video game. They will fake it in conversations when they don't know the latest and greatest. They have eyes for the most trendy clothes, phrases, attitudes, or icons. If nothing else, at least they are "cool."
So since we, and our children, are hard-wired to be worshipers and hard-wired to be amazed and delighted, what is my calling as a parent? To give them something to worship. To show them where to find lasting amazement and delight....it's found in God alone. Our greatest calling is to help our children see the dazzling excellence of God. "Children will never have right thoughts about themselves until they have right thoughts about God." And where do they learn these right thoughts about God? Not randomly, and certainly not just through church attendance, or even Christian school attendance. They learn it from us, their parents.
If we don't do this well, we leave our children alone with their deceitful hearts that tell them that the amazing and seemingly satisfying idols of their hearts is where life is found.
That brought me to quite a tall order. One I cannot do without God's daily help. Commending the works of God to my children. That's how I will show my children that God is worth worshiping. That God, not the idols of their heart is what will truly satisfy them. "My children are not likely to grow into adults who truly know God unless I provide them with a big God who is worthy of worship."
So...accomplishing this never-ending task? Where to even being?
- Reading more of the Psalms- I need to memorize and be familiar with the Psalms because this is where so much of God and His greatness is displayed. So many wonderful ways to show my children that God is worth worshiping over anything and anyone else.
- Continue reading Proverbs every day- Proverbs is one of our favorite books of the Bible. It has so much practical life advice that is very easy to teach to children.
- As Mekonen grows older and more children are added to our family, I need to "make mental note of the ways they yearn for pleasure and delight, look for opportunities to direct them to eternal pleasures."
- Pray daily for the hearts of my children, realizing, that realistically, we could be the only people on the planet consistently bringing our children before the throne of God.
- Use everyday disappointments and joys to point ourselves to the worship of God.
- Hold on tight and be ready for the ride of a lifetime. With Jesus, nothing is ordinary.