It’s not exactly fair, but facts are facts.
In his book, For Father’s Who Aren’t in Heaven, author Ron Rand presented this little statistic: “A denominational study reveals that if dad and mom both attend church regularly 72% of their children remain faithful. If only mom attends church regularly, 15% remain faithful. But if only dad attends regularly, 55% remain faithful. ”
That is a stark difference in impact! Being a data analyst, I graphed the difference to visualize the disparity.
Why is there a 40% difference between Mom’s and Dad’s lasting influence? Only God knows.
A dear Christian mentor, Jean, once told me a story. She attended a spiritual retreat and the leader there asked participants to close their eyes and imagine themselves sitting on God’s lap. Jean immediately protested, “I can’t do that!” The leader asked why she couldn’t. Jean said, “Because I never had such an experience with my own father.” Jean used that experience to make a point. “It is more difficult for people to develop a healthy image of a loving God if they never knew a loving father here on earth.” Then she smiled and added, “Notice I didn’t say impossible…just more difficult!”
Deuteronomy 6:4-9, known as the Shema in Hebrew, may be very familiar to you:
“4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
I have always been moved by verse 7. Ask yourself, “Who is there with my children when they “sit in the house?” Who is with them when they “walk by the way?” How about when they “lie down and when they rise up?” The pastor isn’t. The Sunday school teacher isn’t. The VBS volunteers aren’t. You are. God is telling us parents that it is our responsibility to teach our children the faith.
That is a huge responsibility! You may feel overwhelmed by the burden of passing your faith on to your children, especially if you’re a Dad (who’s influence seems to carry more weight). What if we blow it? But, thank God, the Church is there to help. The pastor, the Sunday school teacher and the VBS volunteers are all willing to come alongside you in mentoring your little ones, and they may join you in praying for them as well. That’s a big relief.
So, dads, pull your kid up on your lap, give them a big loving hug and read them a Bible story or two. You’ll be setting the stage for their success later in life. Oh…and Mom’s, you keep loving with all your heart too!