Foundational Parenting

2015 Messages

One of the primary responsibilities of all Christians is to disciple the next generation of courageous christian leaders. Whether a parent, grandparent, mentor, big sister or brother Deuteronomy 6:1-9 lays out the foundational principles for Why? What? When? And How? we train that next generation.

Kyle KaiglerAug 16, 2015Deuteronomy 6:1-3; Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Deuteronomy 6:6; Deuteronomy 6:7-9

Thank you so much for jumping in today and participating with our kids. As I said at the very beginning, this is an incredibly strategic thing for our church. I know because our kids aren't with us. They aren't here on Sunday mornings, and we don't talk about it a lot, but it is a significant part of what we are trying to do here at Watermark. That is, we want to be intentional about training the next generation of Christian leaders.

As I talk to parents and visit with families, I say a lot that we are really raising either the revivalists, the kids who are going to return our country to a country that follows after the Lord, or we are raising the remnant. If you're reading through Isaiah and Ezekiel, you know there are some really hard times going on with the Israelites in the Old Testament. Eventually, as we just learned, there is exile.

I don't have any idea what's coming for our country, but I do know our country is headed away from being followers of Christ. It is so important, even more so than ever, for us to train our kids to follow the ways of the Lord so they can be the remnant or the revivalists. I want to make sure we know and you know the body of Christ here at Watermark is critically important for us to establish biblical training of the next generation.

There's another thing I think is really important that I hope we can take some ground in over the next months and years. Some of y'all who have been at Watermark for a long time know we are growing more and more in being able to identify our hurts, habits, hang-ups, and sin and being able to talk about those things in the context of our Community Groups or with other people.

You read in the Watermark News every week that somebody is doing that, they're growing, and they're getting free from those sins, so we've done a great job with the hurts, habits, and hang-ups thing. I think we've also done a good job… Our culture is growing in the fact that we can say, "My marriage is not all it's supposed to be. It's a 2, and I want it to be an 8 or a 9," or, "It's a 7, and I want it to be an 8 or a 9."

Because of re:gen, re|engage, and those ministries we have at Watermark, we've broken through the glass ceiling of, "Oh, I can't talk about that stuff," but we haven't broken through the glass ceiling of being able to talk about parenting. Early on, we took our little daughter Kaylee to the pediatrician. We loved our pediatrician. He was awesome. We respected him like crazy.

My daughter knew she was going to get some shots, so she was not doing everything they wanted her to do. She said, "Hey, I want to go to the restroom." Our pediatrician looked at us and said, "You know she just played you, right?" We were horrified that he was helping us with our parenting.

Because it's so personal, it's the best reflection we have of who we are, we don't like to talk about how parenting or training the next generation is happening in our lives, because we look at these other kids and say, "Oh, they're awesome." We look at these other kids, and we compare. We're insecure in our parenting.

I hope today is a start, and I hope, as we go through these next weeks and months, we could break through that glass ceiling. Talking about our parenting becomes critically important in our Community Group because it matters so much that we train the next generation.

I said at the beginning, you may be single and have no kids. You may be grandparents, aunts, uncles, big brothers, big sisters… This is your responsibility to train the next generation. It may be, if you're a young adult here, that you need to grab a kid to mentor because they don't get that mentoring at home. Jump in and be a part of what we're doing.

As we jump into some of the key passages about training the next generation, I want to confess to you a couple of major misses we have done as parents or as folks assigned to train the next generation and how we have missed it as a church. The first thing I want to tell you is, as a general rule, and I'm making broad generalizations, we, as folks training the next generation, have been passive in our training. We've made two critical mistakes.

One is we have sat back in our passivity, and we have let the culture raise our kids. We've let the culture disciple our kids, because we are not intentional about doing that. We've let the media raise our kids. We've let other parents' kids raise our kids. We've let coaches and teachers raise our kids. Our kids are getting all this information from places that may not be godly.

If you go back and study the Old Testament, you find out the plan was for millions of people to come out of the place of Israel together. They were nomads for 40 years. You had kids running around from tent to tent, from grandparents to parents to cousins. The hope was they were getting godliness in every tent they walked into. They went here and got godliness. They went there and got godliness. That's not the way it is today. We as a culture, a generation, and even a Christian culture, have been passive in discipling our kids.

The other mistake we have made is we, or some of y'all great folks who go to church every week, have said, "We have a good church. Can you believe how talented our folks are here at Watermark? They're leading worship and doing drama and all that. We're going to let the church do it, because they're super talented, and they have great stuff at the church."

That is a mistake. If you're saying, "We're going to let the church raise our kids," that's crazy. Do you know what happened? About seven or eight years ago, Watermark fed that problem. We fed that myth. We were spending all our time, resources, and money on Sunday morning for your kids. We brought in a friend who came in and said, "I want to look at your children's ministry." I said, "Great." I was leading the children's ministry at the time. I was the student guy. I didn't know anything about kids. I said, "Please come help us."

We spent three days together. It was great, but at the end of that, we were sitting down with the elders, and she said, "There are two issues in your children's ministry. First, you guys can't scale this. You're growing super fast. The structure you have you can't scale." We said, "Great," and we changed that and fixed that.

Then she came back and said this. It was an incredible moment for our church. She said, "Why are you spending all your time, resources, talent, and people on Sunday morning? Why are you doing that?" If you come to church every single Sunday, and you bring your kids, we get your kids 52 hours a year. Even if we're awesome as a church, and I'm not saying we aren't… I love what we're doing in our kids' ministry, but even if we do great, we have 52 hours.

Do you want to know how many hours you have as parents? 3,000. This lady looked at us, and she said, "What are you doing? You're spending all your time, talent, energy, and resources in the 52 hours, and you have parents, mentors, and things like that who are spending time with your kids. They're with kids all the time."

If you don't get anything else from our time today, I want you to know, as parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents, it's your responsibility to disciple your kids. We want to help you. Watermark wants to help you. It's the reason we've started some ministries we'll talk about a little later. We've talked about The Nest and Square One. We've done Parenting on Point, and we've done a Dad's Class. It's starting to happen here at the Plano campus. We're starting to build resources to train our mentors, our parents, and our grandparents on how to train the next generation.

I want us to establish, today, that's the parents' job, the family's job, to disciple the kids. As we think about training the next generation, there's one passage of Scripture that is absolutely foundational for how we do this. It's Deuteronomy 6:1-9. I want to walk through Deuteronomy 6 with you, because it's going to teach us why we train the next generation, what we teach the next generation, the key to teaching the next generation, and when we teach the next generation. It lays out perfectly for us what our role is.

1._ Why we train the next generation._ Let's go ahead and jump into Deuteronomy 6:1-3, and let's listen to what Moses is telling the people. Here's the precursor. The people of Israel have just come out of Egypt. They spent 40 years wandering in the desert, and the old generation that sinned against God has died. There are none of those folks left except Caleb and Joshua. Now they are about to go into the Promised Land, and God has told Moses, "You don't get to go to the Promised Land."

Moses, in the book of Deuteronomy, does seven sermons. It's basically his last shot at the people of Israel before they go into the Promised Land. They're going to establish a brand new civilization. They are walking into a Promised Land that is full of what we say are polytheistic nations that worship multiple gods, and Moses is saying, "Here's how we're going to establish our civilization." In the midst of one of these sermons in Deuteronomy 6, he says this.

"Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the LORD your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it, so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged." It's important to see that long life.

"O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly…" Legacy. "…just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land…" Land. "…flowing with milk and honey." In the Old Testament, blessing was characterized by three l's. It was characterized by a long life, by a legacy, and by land.

Right here in 1-3, Moses just said, "If you will follow me, obey the commands, and pass them on to future generations, it will go well with you, and you will be blessed. You will have long life, you will have land, and you will leave a godly legacy." If you obey, you will be blessed. That is a theme throughout all of Scripture. You can find it everywhere. If you obey, you will be blessed.

For us, in the New Testament, obedience leads to blessing, but it looks a little different. It looks like the fruit of the Spirit. If you will obey, your life will be characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against these things there is no such law. Also, John 14:21 says, "If you obey God, you're going to have intimacy with Jesus." Obedience and blessing are directly related.

Let me stop right here. I went to a school in Tulsa, Oklahoma, called Oral Roberts University. It's known as a charismatic school. I loved it. I had a great time, but there was some bad theology at Oral Roberts University. It was a health and wealth prosperity doctrine that was preached when I was there.

It basically taught us God is a cosmic Coke machine. "If you will do these things, if you will give this much money, you put that in the money slot, and out comes the blessing you want, whether that's finances, cars, or property. Whatever that is." That is heresy. Obedience equals blessing, but it's not necessarily the blessing you want. God gets to decide the blessing, and it's characterized by those fruit of the Spirit I mentioned to you.

So the first thing we need to know is why we teach this next generation. We train them so you will be blessed and so you will prosper. If your family is a mess right now, if something is going on in your family, it's really important to take a good look at what is going on. Are you obeying the ways of the Lord?

2._ What we teach the next generation._ As we go into Deuteronomy 6:4-5, it says, "Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might." That sounds familiar, doesn't it. This is the Shema. In the United States, we celebrate freedom on the Fourth of July. We do parades and parties. We eat like crazy. We have red, white, and blue everywhere. We talk freedom, freedom, freedom.

The Shema, this right here: "Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one!" was the nation of Israel's rallying cry. That's what they cried. "We are a nation who follow the one God." They taught their kids that all throughout their years. Then, they went on to say, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength."

What were they teaching their kids? They were teaching their kids just like Jesus says in Matthew 22:37-39. You have to be all in with Jesus. Full devotion is normal for a Christ-follower. You hear that around here all the time. When we are up here on Sundays, and any time you're here mid-week, we're talking about going all in and following Christ. Jesus says, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." He's talking about doing that with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all of our strength.

It's difficult these days. It is harder now to raise and train kids, as far as I know, than it has ever been. When I was 6, my mom kicked me out the door at 8:00 a.m., and I went out and played in the neighborhood. I was gone, gone, gone, and the rule was to be home by dark. We knew other families in the neighborhood were going to feed us and take care of us. If something happened, they were going to call. That's just the way it worked.

It's really different now. It's harder because of the way our culture has moved. The problem is, though, as we raise our kids, a lot of us want to give our kids just enough Christianity or just enough Jesus to make them moral, obedient, or cool. We want them to fit in, so we inoculate them to full devotion. We tell them, "This little bit of Christianity right here, this little bit of Jesus right here works great, but don't go all in. Don't be going into your classroom and talking to others about Jesus, right? Don't do that."

Jesus tells us we have to love and care for others and tell people about him. Let's not give our kids just enough Jesus to inoculate them to what it means to be fully devoted, because right here in the Shema, Jesus says in Matthew 22, "We have to go all in with our kids." We teach them full devotion.

3._ The key to teaching the next generation._ The passage keeps going. Deuteronomy 6:6 says, "These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart." Moses is talking to the adults of the new generation who are going to teach the kids of the next generation, and he says to them, "These commands I'm teaching you in Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy have to be on your heart first." If you want to train your kids, if you're a parent, grandparent, or whatever you are, it has to be on your heart first.

I'm going to give you something very, very sobering as a parent. You who have kids who are a little older won't stand up and say, "Amen," because we don't do that here, but you're going to want to do that. Your kids will get your junk. I have twins who are going to be sophomores in college and a daughter who's going to be a senior in high school, and my stuff, my hurts, habits, and hang-ups I haven't dealt with… I see those in my kids all the time.

If you don't spend some time looking at your own heart and working on what's going on in your heart, your kids are going to get your stuff. They just are. It's the way generational stuff works. We want to put on this image that we're this great parent and we don't make mistakes. We don't admit that to our kids, and we think our kids have to have this great picture of who their mom and dad were.

Can I tell you the most important thing your kids need to see? They do not need to see, as the most important thing, you being perfect. They need to see a mom or a dad who, two years ago, was angry, frustrated, and short-tempered and who, two years later, today, is more characterized by peace and freedom. Your kids need to see a transformed mom and dad, a transformed mentor. That's what they need to see.

Here's part of the problem. Many people don't know this. This is a big secret. My first name is Donald. Please don't call me that. I might hit you. When Tresha and I got married and started to learn each other's stories, her dad's name was Donald as well. As we got each other's stories, both of the Donalds were an absolute mess. They were not role models. They didn't know the Lord. They were out doing a ton of stuff they shouldn't be doing. They were a mess.

Tricia and I came together and talked it through. We were both walking with Christ at the time. We were following Jesus, and we said, "We have to break the chain of dysfunction that's being handed down by the Donalds." We committed together, "We are going to do this the way God wants us to. We're going to work through the stuff our dads passed on to us, so we won't pass that stuff on to our kids."

The stories these days of our folks who had godly parents and grew up in Christian homes are becoming fewer and farther between. There are a lot of us in here who are very impacted by how our parents raised us in a negative way. We have to raise our hands, and we have to say, "We have to break the chain of sin and unfaithfulness in our family."

There is only one way to do that. You can work all day long for years and years on coping mechanisms. You learn how to cope, but only one person can truly heal you, and that's a relationship with Jesus Christ, falling on your knees and saying, "I am watching the stuff I got from my family impact me, and therefore, it's impacting my kids. I want to break the chain."

We teach our kids by having it on our hearts first. One of the most important things you can do when you mess up, when you get angry with your kids, and when you get short-tempered is to fall on your knees right with your kid and say, "I am so sorry. Will you forgive me? Dad wants to follow Jesus and do the right thing. My heart is wicked and doesn't do the right thing. I need Jesus to forgive me, and I need you to forgive me. Will you forgive me?"

Our kids need to see humble, authentic parents who have integrity in how they raise their kids. It's important that we deal with our stuff. You train your kids out of your own spiritual transformation.

4._ When we teach the next generation._ The last part of this passage is in Deuteronomy 6:7-9. This tells us when we teach our kids. It says, "You shall teach them [the commands] diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."

It begs the question… When do we teach our kids? When do we train them? When do we train the next generation? The answer is all the time. I'd get questions all the time as the Family Ministry Director, which I did for five years at the Dallas campus. "Hey, Kyle, what do you do? How do you train your kids?"

I'm like, "We have some structured time, whether that's weekly, monthly, or whatever that is." I have a list of probably 50 or 60 things I wanted my kids to know before they went off to college. It was silly stuff like, "I want them to know how to play tennis," or, "I want them to know how to grill."

It was silly stuff, but there was some significant stuff like, "I want you to know how to study your Bible. I want you to know how to counsel somebody who's going through a really hard situation." We did some structured times in our house, but mostly it was take-advantage-of-the-moment times. "What is going on in your world? Let's talk about it." It's the reason time around the dinner table is so important.

I got this chart too late, but this chart, late in my girls' years, was so helpful. This is a way to think through how to train. "How do I think through how to train the next generation?" At meal time, the communication style is a formal discussion. Don't go to, "I have to read a commentary before I get to the dinner table." Let me tell you what this looks like.

"We're about to sit down for dinner. I'm walking toward the table. Lord, what did you teach me today? Where did I mess up? I'm going to bring that up at the dinner table, and we're going to talk about it." That is your formal discussion. It's not hard. You just have to be intentional, and you have to pay attention.

You establish values. We have some good friends on staff who have made the biblical values we have at Watermark part of the décor of their kitchen. It's just a blackboard with colored chalk, and it looks awesome. It has our nine core values on there. Every time you walk into their house, and every time their kids walk through, they see these nine biblical values, and they make it part of their house.

It says in verses 7-9, "When you are on the road…" It wasn't cars and Suburbans back then, but we can make that transfer and say, "When you're in the car, you want informal dialogue." You want to be their friend. You want to help them interpret life. "What happened today at school?" "My teacher got frustrated with me, and I really didn't do anything wrong." Talk to your kid about how to handle that. "How do you go back to your teacher and say, 'Hey, Miss So-and-so. This is what happened yesterday, and I really didn't do that.' Have a conversation."

The third one was bedtime. That is the time for intimate conversations, so I made it a habit every night. I had three girls who were all fairly similar in age. I went around from bed to bed and lay in their beds with them. We would talk, and Tresha was always screaming, "Hey, let them get to bed!" I was like, "No, this is so fun. Let me do this."

Kendall and I used to play a game. This says to build intimacy during this time. I don't know if this built intimacy, but it was a blast. We tried to scare each other. We'd hide in closets, and we'd hide behind doors. It'd be bedtime, and we were hiding. This had been going on for months, so we were trying to get more creative and all that.

One night, I go in, and I'm laying on Kendall's bed. I'm yelling, "Kendall, come on. Come to bed." Tresha is out, and she's saying, "Kendall, go to bed. Go to bed." Silence. Nothing. I stayed in there for probably 5 or 10 minutes calling for Kendall to come in, and all of a sudden, this hand comes from the abyss. I have never been more scared in my life.

We played games and built intimacy. If you ask Kendall about one of her favorite times with me, she would say, "Dad, when we used to try to scare each other, and especially that time I scared you worse than you've ever been scared…" That's what she remembers. That bedtime is so important to build intimacy.

Then, in the morning, whether it's driving the carpool or when you get up, you're encouraging your kids and trying to instill purpose. Something we would say is, "Hey, when you go to school today, look for somebody on the playground by themselves. Go up and ask them to play and be a part of your group." Every day, we'd give our kids something to try to instill purpose in their hearts and lives.

Deuteronomy 6:1-9 tells us why we teach: so we'll prosper. It tells us what to teach: full devotion. It tells us how to teach: out of the transformation of our own hearts. It tells us when to teach: all the time, both formally and informally in what we do.

I want to tell you as a church, I don't know where you are in your life. I don't know if you're a young adult, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or parent, but this really matters. This was not a recruiting pitch for you to go serve in children's ministry. We would love for you to do that if God's calling you to do that. It's a great place to mentor and love kids.

I got a great email this week from a volunteer who has been in a classroom with a lead teacher. The volunteer basically said, "Hey, Miss Ginger, I will serve wherever you want in any of that kind of stuff, but can I ask you one thing? I love my lead teacher. She's mentoring me and discipling me. Is there any way I can stay with her wherever she goes?" I'm like, "That's what it's all about."

I want us to be a church that takes this seriously. If you're passive in your parenting or your discipling of the next generation, it's okay. Nobody is mad at you, but raise your hand and say, "Help!" We meet all the time up here with families that are saying, "My kids are out of control." We dive in, and we help. We get your Community Group involved, and we talk through.

We're hopefully going to break that glass ceiling to make this common in what we do. It's part of our language that we can share, "Hey, I'm not the perfect parent, and my kids are struggling." Can we establish that as a critically important priority at our church? It is so strategic for the next 5, 10, 20 years, and for God's kingdom, his church, and eternity. Let's pray together.

Father, I pray this passage of Scripture, Deuteronomy 6, would be our road map, that it would sink deep into our hearts and we would walk away from today and say, "Lord, show me where I'm not training the next generation. It matters a ton." Father, would you help us to be intentional, throw off the passivity, make a simple plan, and execute on it? Lord, I ask you would help us. Would you encourage us? Would you help us listen and learn from your Word on how to do that? Father, we need you. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.