Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed….Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.”  Matthew 13:3, 5-6 (NIV)

This fall we are looking at The Parable of the Sower.  Jesus shares the story of a farmer scattering his seeds in hopes that they will grow into fruitful crops.  Unfortunately, many of the seeds do not become fruitful crops or even crops at all for a variety of reasons.  Jesus uses these ‘crop failures’ to teach us spiritual lessons about what to avoid and what to prioritize when teaching others to follow Jesus.  

In August we looked at the seed that fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.  We learned that the seed refers to God’s Word, and the birds refer to things the enemy uses to steal His Word from our children’s hearts and minds, including media, negative peer influence, and unbiblical agendas of educators.  Then we looked at the key to preventing the enemy from stealing God’s Word from our children’s hearts, which is to equip them to fully understand His Word

This month we are looking at the seed that fell on the rocky places (see Scripture above) and how that seed sprang up quickly because it had little soil.  When the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they hadn’t developed roots. 

This section of the parable reminds me of taking unchurched teens from our ministry to Christian teen camp.  Many of them heard the gospel, prayed to receive Christ, and had an amazing encounter with the Lord through worship, prayer, and the teaching from God’s Word.  All of the sudden they wanted to be missionaries and get involved in a church community and be sold-out Christians!  But as they entered back into their world, without good soil (a Biblical foundation) at home, school or work,  the testing and trials of the world scorched their faith.  Many began to fall away from God and our ministry, which was there to provide that good soil they so desperately needed.

We see with this “crop failure”  that the rocky surface did not have much soil for the seed to flourish. 

 I believe the good soil refers to the environment in which our kids are living that supports and encourages them in their relationship with God.  Without this nurturing soil, the enemy can take advantage of our kids and attack them.

So how do we provide good soil for our kids? 

This starts with a nurturing environment at home where our kids feel loved and accepted.  God’s Word shares this principle with us: We can be full of great parenting tips, know how to discipline and even teach our kids God’s Word, but if we do not have love, it is pointless.  (1 Corinthians 1:1-3)

If showing love to your family is something you struggle with, consider the following tips:

  1.  Pray through 1 Corinthians 13 daily and ask the Lord to fill you with His love and that His love may overflow through you onto your kids.
  2.  Ask the Lord each day to show you one way you can express love to your spouse and children and then obey His promptings to do so.
  3. Have your family take the 5 Love Languages Assessment (you can do it with your kids depending on their age). Use the results to determine the best way to show love to each family member.

Another way to cultivate good soil for our children is to teach them how to live as followers of Jesus.  Here are some ways to teach and model the Christian walk with your kids.

  1.  Teach your children to put God first by spending time with Him and model this yourself.  You can do this  by encouraging your kids to have a personal time with God, reading His Word and/or an age-appropriate devotional that helps them understand God’s Word and encourages them to pray. Even toddlers can look through a picture Bible to help them understand the importance of God’s Word.  Practice family devotions and discuss God’s Word together and what He is teaching each of you. 
  2.   Teach and model Christ-like character in the home by teaching your kids character traits such as respectfulness, kindness, and humility.  Here are some resources to help: A Heart Like Jesus A-Z On the Go , Character Calendars, and Parenting with Scripture.
  3. Plan activities as a family that encourage you to live out your faith together.  Take turns choosing a special way you can show God’s love to someone in need.  Or join a ministry that seeks to share the love of Jesus with people in word and deed.  For a list of ideas, click on the “Serving with Kids” tab on my homepage.

Yet another way our kids need good soil is to have a safe place to learn about God, talk through their struggles, and be able to ask the hard questions.  Life isn’t easy, and our kids need a safe place to share their struggles and receive empathy, not just advice and  lectures.  When they feel heard and understood, they will be much more likely to listen to the truth and encouragement that we want to share with them.

Lastly, make sure the other environments your children are in throughout the day are healthy and nurturing for them.  If your child is struggling emotionally, spiritually, or behaviorally, look at their influences at school, daycare, extra curricular activities, or with other friends and family members.  Here are some questions to ask yourself about these environments.  

  1. Are my kids’ faith in God being negatively affected by their environment?  
  2. Are my kids being negatively influenced by the values of those around them?
  3. Are my kids feeling discouraged or put down by others?  

If you answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions, pray and ask God to give you wisdom on what needs to be done so that your child can thrive in good soil.  This may include wisdom on how to help your child navigate and stand up to negative influences, but it also may include getting them away from the negative influences.  Change is not easy, but if God calls you to move from an unhealthy environment, just remember He doesn’t want your child withering on rocky ground, but flourishing in the good soil.  It is our job as parents to provide this good soil for our children no matter the cost.