Invest in the Future Generation
Parenting by Faith - Biblical Foundations for the Home
Looking back, I knew that I always wanted children, but it wasn’t until I heard my college pastor say, “The more kids you have, the more people you have to influence for Christ in this life” that I opened up to the idea of a large family. It seemed simple enough, but little did I know how much of my physical, emotional, and spiritual energy it would require.
My husband and I had been a part of a vibrant college campus ministry at our church, Grace Community Church in California. When thinking about beginning a family, we knew we wanted to be evangelists in our own home. We were excited to say along with the apostle Paul, “Follow me as I follow Christ”. Our goal was to carry out the model of Jesus and his disciples, and we were greatly inspired to do so by a book we had read, The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert Coleman. But instead of discipling young men and women in college at UCLA, we would do this with our own flesh and blood over a much longer period of time.
Though only in our early twenties, Tim and I were excited to extend our family unit with little Carns children. Hannah was born in May of 1992 and Bethany 16 months later. By God’s grace, I didn’t feel overwhelmed, but privileged. Of course, there was order and peace as a consistent routine of eating and sleeping that took place in our household. The Lord increased our blessings with Daniel in 1996 and Carissa in 1997.
Making an Eternal Impact
It was after the fourth child that I realized something: I am absolutely crazy to have four children in 5 ½ years. Every day was a challenge and many were physically exhausting.With each child, there was less personal time for hobbies and “me” time. However, a recurring thought always came to my mind,“What is my leisure in comparison with the ability to influence a soul for Christ?” My little disciples were worth all the time, teaching, physical labor and arbitration that they required of me on a daily basis. They were definitely a long-term investment. Around the year of 2000, I truly thought, “The Lord gave us four and no more”, but Tim and the Lord had another plan. It was 3 1/2 years later our truly last child was born to us. This is an amazing story that would take too long to tell. So, if you want to read the miracle of her life, you can read her story here.
All this to say, there was an overwhelming sense that I had five lives in my charge each day, all day. My husband and I understood the responsibility and privilege to oversee our children’s physical, social, academic and spiritual needs. Both Tim and I were in agreement: The spiritual takes precedent over every other area. In the big scheme of things, it was our desire for our children to follow Christ. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” .
We knew that every other pursuit would come up empty, if Christ and His word were not treasured above all else.
Didn’t Jesus himself say in Matthew 16:26, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”
When You Blink, They Are Gone
Tim and I knew that we had a very short window of time with our children. I think how our 4 girls were little women at the age of 14. That’s not a whole lot of time! The formative years are called that for a reason. Formative means, “giving form or shape; forming; shaping; fashioning; molding.”  To know that we have been given such a great responsibility and influence in another’s life is absolutely wonderful and frightening all at the same time! But as Christians we do not do this alone. God has provided us with His Spirit, His Word and others to come alongside and help us to live out this great adventure.As much as possible, I wanted be able to look back in life and have as few regrets as possible. Would I look back and think, “I wished I spent more time playing video games with my kids or would I wish I had spent more time reading the Bible to them? Though I didn’t live this out as fully as I wished, it did help re-orient many choices, even good choices, that lay before me on a daily or weekly basis.
Two Scriptures That Remind Us to Invest in the Future
We relied on two main passages for encouragement and exhortation in regards to how we would spend time with our children in light of eternity.
First, we acknowledged the truth of life’s brevity in Psalm 90,“The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty;yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.”So we prayed along with Moses,“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.Return, O Lord! How long? Have pity on your servants!Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil.Let your work be shown to your servants,and your glorious power to their children.
We also prayed that we would obey the command given in Ephesians 5:15-16 to “look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”
Questions for Reflection
After dwelling on both of these passages, these were the questions that we asked ourselves:
1. How would we use the limited time we had with our children to influence them for Christ while they lived with us in our home?
2. How would we prepare them to live when they left us?
3. Is there anything hindering our commitment to invest in our children?
It is my prayer for all Christian mothers to ask themselves the above questions as she parents her children. There are so many expectations and temptations screaming at us to give them attention when, in reality, they may not be necessary to the larger spiritual goal of knowing Christ.
 1 Corinthians 11:1
 Romans 10:17
 Philippians 3:8