What do you want to be when you grow up? It’s a question asked of all people at some point in time while they’re young. It’s become natural for us to groom our children for success and impart in them a drive for greatness. We’re ingrained to believe life is best lived if we get a good education, a good job, a good spouse, and a nice comfortable retirement.
I’m not sure if you’ve noticed it or not but most of the influence parents have on their children today is centered around taking care of oneself. Even in the church, we Christians sometimes find it more important to teach personal success instead of our faith. I don’t think anyone will argue that parents have a huge but rewarding responsibility to train up their kids in a godly way. We are promised that if we, “train up a child in the way he should go; when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6). And I’ve seen that to be the case in many families within the church. Just as well, I’ve heard of parents bemoan the path their children have taken and use this verse in Proverbs to question why things turned out the way they did.
So I ask, do these parents, and the rest of us for that matter, raise up our children to be strong spiritually or just successful physically? One need look no further than this year’s presidential election to know it’s difficult to raise godly children when we live in such a corrupt and immoral society. When even the leaders up for election lack any moral integrity, it’s hard for average families to stay focused on God. But notice I said “hard” and not “impossible.” God is fully aware of the state of our sinful world. That’s why he said to us,
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Instruction in God and morality start at home, the teaching and wisdom that’s passed down to children from a loving mother and father. That teaching is more important than the teaching from your preacher or pastor, more important than your child’s teachers at school and Sunday school, and especially more important than the very influential impact of media in their lives. All of this sounds great on the surface, but how exactly are Christian parents supposed to accomplish all this? How are we to win the hearts of our children for God instead of for the world?
- PUT CHRIST FIRST YOURSELF- I know as parents we say we do this, but do we really? Do the things you value really point back to God? Kids actually pay attention to the values of their parents, in fact, a lot closer than you may think. Do your children see that their parent’s lives really center around God or is He just an afterthought in your life? You must first love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength before you can teach that to your children.
- MODEL WHAT CHRISTIANITY LOOKS LIKE- Many parents have no idea what a Christian life even looks like, therefore it would be impossible to show that to their children. Parents must make it a priority to be in God’s word, learning daily how to walk in the footsteps of our Lord Jesus Christ. Will we fail? Of course, and when we do, we then have the opportunity to model humility and repentance as well. Children learn by example so it would behoove us to provide a good one for them to follow.
- MAKE FAMILY A PRIORITY- The family unit, as God designed it, is such a remarkable resource for walking in the ways of the Lord. Speaking from my own personal experience, it is a blessing beyond compare to have a God-fearing wife to work alongside me as I seek to be a better husband, father, friend, and Christian.
- BE A PART OF THE CHURCH- I’ve always been curious as to why many parents don’t take advantage of the unity and help that Christ’s church can provide in raising their children. Many Christians today are very active with their church family, fellowshipping and worshipping together, and their kids are better off because of it. We must remind ourselves that we are the bride of Christ, first created to bring honor to God, but also created to help prepare and encourage one another to live in a godly manner. If I know of loving brothers and sisters in Christ who can help me be a better parent, I’m going to take advantage of that resource.
- SERVE WITH YOUR CHILDREN- I never knew what kind of an impact having children would have on me until I started seeing what a caring heart my daughter has for others. It’s a great reminder that while I’m busy taking care of my family’s personal needs, there are others out there going through tough times and facing challenges I couldn’t begin to fathom. I can take every opportunity, with my family by my side, to actively serve those around me that God puts in my path. What better way to teach a child about Christianity than to show them that faith is best lived through actions and not just words (James 2:18).
- READ THE BIBLE AND PRAY WITH YOUR CHILDREN- My daughter’s favorite subject at school is reading. But as much as she loves to read and as good as she is at it, she still needs her mother and I to walk her through the words of the Bible. Take the opportunity, as often as possible, to teach your children from God’s word. Show them how they are loved by God and how they can honor him through their obedience to his commandments. And pray for your children as well. Let them hear personally how you offer up your requests to God and how you place your trust in his provision.
For those who are parents, you probably never imagined what a difficult task child-rearing can be. It’s made all the more difficult because we live in a sinful world where Satan tries to prey on our hearts and the hearts of our children. God has entrusted you to not only seek Him but to model a Christ-like life to your most precious responsibility. No doubt it will be hard but it will also be one of the most rewarding things you ever do.