Where Do I Begin?
My smartwatch buzzes with another news feed. It doesn’t take much in today’s world to be reminded of our fragile existence. Our society, our communities, our families—we are all suffering. As a Seventh-day Adventist I have hope, but I sometimes find myself asking questions like, “What can I do, and where would I begin? What difference could I possibly make?” Have you ever asked yourself these kinds of questions?
People who make it a profession to study human nature will tell you that the only person you can change is yourself. Scripture, however, claims otherwise (Jeremiah 17:9). God changes hearts and restores minds (Ezekiel 36:26; 2 Cor. 5:17). The Bible also teaches that God’s people have been given the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18-21). Therefore, it is possible for you and I to make a difference. We can be a catalyst for change. But where do we begin?
I believe the best place to initiate change is with ourselves and those nearest us—our families. A familiar passage from Proverbs 22:6 states, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” It’s important to pause and think about this for a moment. As the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary reminds us, “to do this ‘they [parents] must themselves understand the ‘way’ the child should go.’” In other words, parents must first understand the “way,” before they can ever hope to instruct the child on “how” they should grow. Herein lies the problem.
A while back Barna Research Group posted their findings amongst mainstream Christian families. They found 85% of parents with children under age of 13 believed it was their primary responsibility to equip their children in matters of spirituality and religious belief. The problem was that this same survey showed parents failing to spend any quality time speaking or studying religious materials with their children. In fact, the Barna Group found that almost all parents depended upon the church to do “all” of their children’s religious training.
If we’re going to start somewhere, parents, it must begin with you and me. We must initiate the process of allowing God to search our hearts and minds (Psalm 139:23-24). We need to be the ones to model this to our families and those within our circle of influence. And it will not happen unless we (1) take time to let God speak into us, and (2) take time to let God speak through us, into our children.
In Ministry of Healing, Ellen G. White sets the record straight, stating: “Society is composed of families, and is what the heads of families make it…the heart of the community, of the church, and of the nation is the household. The well-being of society, the success of the church, the prosperity of the nation, depend upon home influences.” It begins at home, and it must begin with us. This is where we can and will make an impact in our church, our society and finally, our nation.
By Walter Martinez, Family Life Director