One of the most critical and misunderstood concepts of Legacy Dad is developing the heart before the head. When my wife and I were young, faith based teaching consisted of learning and memorising bible verses and going through ritualistic traditions in an effort to teach us our faith.
For the most part, there was no hands on instruction nor real life examples to glean experience from. What this led to was mostly going through the motions to appease parents and church leaders in order to conform and fit to a certain mold or expectation placed upon us. Bottom line. It was in our heads but not in our hearts.
As parents, we vowed to take the opposite approach towards faith based and almost all character based instruction with our children. They would see real life examples and receive hands on experience before being taught doctrine and tradition. Plus, we expose them to the real world with parental oversight as opposed to trying to create a controlled environment to keep bad things out. Why?
First, a child will blindly accept the teachings and therefore the faith of their parents if asked simply to appease the parents and seek approval. Is this truly allowing the holy spirit to work in our children's lives?
Second, I have lived myself and met countless people who can quote scripture, doctrine and ritual yet do not actively believe nor have it in their hearts. Remember that currently 90% of Evangelical children leave the Church after high school (Barna Group)
Third, focusing on the head and parents who try to create a safe, controlled environment is only influencing a child's external behaviors. What happens when the child enters the real world? A hostile world especially towards faith?
Please understand, we don't let our children run wild, watch whatever media they feel like or expose them to un-biblical teachings. We lead them by example, expose them to church and faith based activities and let them come to their own conclusions.
The results are astonishing. Award after award from schools for superior character. Children living their faith based values daily rather than reciting them. Children making the appropriate decisions when no teachers or parents are present. I could go on and on.
The biggest revelation of this hit me this week. We just started a two year bible study with our children that prepares them to become adults in the church. This study now brings the doctrine piece into their lives. They can't recite the book of the Bible the story of the Good Samaritan is in but they can tell you about the real life time they stopped and bought a homeless man a meal with their own money.
Focus on the heart first and the head will follow in time.