God designed people to be followers, specifically followers of him. So, by design, being a follower is a good thing. But, when Adam fell, man’s good inclination to be a follower became a dangerous human trait. Instead of being exclusively locked on to trusting and following God, people became open to following what seemed most attractive to them.
This means that your children, even the strong-willed ones, are born followers. But instead of naturally following God, their hearts are programed to follow anything but God. (Ephesians 2:1-3) Said another way, your children are born to be influenced. With regard to influence, quantity matters. It is not who says it first or best. What matters is who says it most.
This is huge!
The command in Deuteronomy 6 was given to ensure that the word of God is the main influence in children’s lives. This is why the Holy Spirit says to talk about God and his commands 24/7:
“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
The reason that God wants you to talk about him and his commands all the time is because he wants to be the primary influence in your children’s lives. Remember, influence is about who says it most! This is why Paul says to take every thought captive. His words in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 are tightly connected to Deuteronomy 6.
How does this work out practically? Are you supposed to be constantly reading the bible and only quoting Bible verses? Are you supposed to enclose your children in a bubble and never let them be involved in the culture? No, this would be a silly and dangerous response and it is not what God wants. What he does want is for you to be aware of the things that influence your children so that you can teach them by word and example that God’s ways are better.
If the weather is random, if having sex is a matter of personal preference, if Christianity is just one of many ways to get to God and similar ideas form the majority of the influences in your child’s life, expect your child to embrace these ideas. It doesn’t matter if your influence is first. It doesn’t matter if your influence is based on God’s truth. What matters is what they hear the most.
For example, the Bible teaches that weather is not random. The winds, the waves, the clouds all obey God. This means that there are many opportunities each day to observe God’s involvement in your family’s life just by talking about how he controls the weather. Multiply this example of the weather into all of the other things that you encounter each day. This is what the Holy Spirit means by taking every thought captive.
Modern culture has no room for a God who rules the world. Don’t allow that message to be the dominant influence in your children’s lives. They are born followers. Help them to follow Christ by making him practical 24/7.