The word is the seed of God. As a parent, you have a responsibility to not just expose your child to the word, but to prepare them to receive the Word. Some parents believe it is just enough to scatter the seed. They say to themselves, “I’ll just expose my children to religion and it is up to them whether or not to believe it.” These parents do nothing to prepare the soil, to enrich it, cultivate it with composition and nutrients to ensure the seed grows strong and healthy.
Just because one scatters seed (in this example, exposing their children to the word), it doesn’t automatically result in an abundant spiritual harvest to the recipient. But as Jesus noted in Luke 8:11-15, seed that is cast on a hardened path, or rock, or in thorns, will not take root. It is only on well-prepared soil that roots can take hold and, by persevering, produce crop.
Seeds Cast in Trampled Soil
It is possible to harden a our children, just like a walking path. We can compact them down with criticism and negativity, rendering them scared and defenseless to the world. We set them up to have lower self-esteem and be walked on throughout their life like well-worn paths of cracked, hard dirt. Ideas of love, compassion, empathy, and gratitude will never be able to take root. Scattering the word of Good on this soil will never penetrate; and with a strong wind can blow away.
Seeds Cast in Rocky Soil
Casting seeds on rocky soil may take a little root. But the ability for the seedlings to flourish will always be hampered by the stones, taking up precious space that should be filled with moisture and soil nutrients.
I liken this to parents who include God and the word with their child, but on a smaller and self-negotiated scale. The problem is that if we don’t choose to prepare the soil, and choose to cast seed into rocky ground, the worldly rocks will never allow the seedling to grow tall, strong, fortified and able to produce bountiful crop.
We will all have our faith tested. Having it planted and grown in rich soil helps us withstand the tests that will surely come.
Seeds Cast in Thorns
Thorns are notes as life’s “worries, riches and pleasures.” Too many thorns will choke out a seedling and prevent it from maturing and producing meaningful crop. Our children observe how we deal with the world. The see what we work about, what concerns us, where we place our priorities. Do we save up to buy a new car, or to invest in a village that needs fresh water?
Are we consumed with wealth, riches, material things? Do we demonstrate with our time and energy a pursuit of worldly pleasures, or an adherence to God and the word? Depending on our actions, we are preparing the soil with nutrients or thorns. And the resultant seedling’s maturity and strength will result from the soil in which it was cast.
Seeds Cast in Well-Prepared Soil
It is a fair synopsis to say, do all of the things that avoid trampled soil, rocky soil, and thorns notes above. While we are human, and have our personal struggles, preparing good soil for our children does not have to be hard. Prepare yourself as you are the gardener who is tending to the soil.
Create good habits about encouraging, accepting, and loving your child with your words and actions. Be mindful of your words as well as your worries. Note your priorities and strive for balance in your life. It is okay to get a new car when you need one, but also consider in investing in those who are less fortunate. Your soil will be fortified if you do. Speak to your child about your relationship with God, share time to read the word together. Be consistent, and watch how bountiful your crop will become from a handful of seed cast in the correct location.
Dr. Gregory Jantz is the founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE in Edmonds, Washington, voted a top ten facility for the treatment of depression in the United States. Dr. Jantz pioneered Whole Person Care in the 1980’s and is a world-renowned expert on eating disorders, depression, anxiety, technology addiction, and abuse. He is a leading voice and innovator in Mental Health utilizing a variety of therapies including nutrition, sleep therapy, spiritual counseling, and advanced DBT techniques. Dr. Jantz is a best-selling author of 39 books and has appeared on CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, and CNN.