When I was young I wanted to learn one skill—wiggling my ears.
My dad could do it. In fact, he enjoyed teaching others to do it too. He once taught every boy in my Cub Scout Den to do it—that is, every boy except me.
It wasn’t his fault, he tried. He instructed me the same way he did everyone else. Physically, I just couldn’t do it.
Thankfully, wiggling my ears turned out not to be an important skill for life. But of course, some skills are very important.
As a parent, we have the very difficult job of determining what skills are the most important to pass on to our children.
And often it’s not easy to choose.
What skills will help them to cope with pain and loss? What skills will help them succeed at school, or work, or just life? What skills will help them with relationships? What skills will prepare them for life as an adult in this crazy and broken world?
But what if it didn’t have to be this way?
What if, there is an easier way? What if, instead of stressing about all the skills we could or should teach our kids, God wants us to simply focus on teaching our children just one very important skill?
In the Bible one skill stands out above the rest:
“Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13)
“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you…” (Matthew 28:18-20)
“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who are elect… for obedience to Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:1-2)
Did you notice a theme?
From God’s point of view, the most important skill any person could learn is to obey God. This is our “whole duty”.
But of course, we can’t obey someone we can’t hear. So unless we can also hear from God we’ll never be able to obey him. So the most important skill turns out to actually be two skills- the ability to hear God and the ability to obey God.
Hear. And obey. That is it.
Now, take a moment and think about how learning these skills would change your children’s life.
Just think for a moment about all the “big” decisions your children will make throughout life. Decisions like: What sport or club should I join? What classes should I take? Should I go to college? Where should I go to college? What job should I pursue? Should I date so and so? Should I marry so and so? Or even just what should I wear today?
Now think about how much easier all these (and many more) “big” decisions become if our children know how to hear and obey God.
No more worrying about what activity or class they’re in, or what college they did or did not attend. No more worrying about what relationship did or did not work out, or what job they did or did not get. No more worrying about even what they did or did not wear today.
Rather, despite limitations or challenging life circumstances, they could know the peace of walking in and resting in God’s perfect will. They could experience the joy of knowing that they are right where God wants them to be.
Think about that for a moment.
Think about what a gift that would be for your children.
Do you want to give your children that gift?
If so, then take the first step by simply praying.
Pray and ask God to first give you the desire to hear and obey him.
Then, pray and ask God to help you show your children what he is showing you.
God will answer your prayers. He loves you. He loves your children.
And God knows, one of the very best gifts he could give you and your children, is the skill of learning to hear and obey his will.
Try as I might I couldn’t master the ear wiggling either…