After my first born son, I searched for a parenting manual on raising kids. I thought the hospital included one with all of the other samples and freebies for moms. I needed something with different categories like, “How to Understand the Different Cries”, “What’s Normal for a Child’s First Word, mama, daddy, no?” “How to Stop Whining” “How to Sleep Through the Night”, and How to Get Your Kids to Listen When Your Talking”.
Christian parents face just as many obstacles as non-Christians in raising kids. When you add all the distractions and the pressures in today’s world, Christian parenting becomes even more than a challenge.
A huge part of that challenge is passing on your faith to kids whose priorities are more focused on video games, sporting events, and the latest trends in clothes. And let’s not forget to mention peer pressure and media pressure that offers temptations to kids to do drugs, drink alcohol and get involved sexually. Today’s kids face an overall absence of godly examples and moral living in a society that is moving toward “freedom from religion” instead of “freedom of religion.”
“Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him.” Psalm 127:3
Parents are role models. Spiritual values and character are caught as well as taught. Parents bare the fundamental responsibility for spiritual education. Spiritual values are most effective when integrated into family living. A child watches their parent’s life to conclude the importance of a relationship with God.
“You must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commandments I am giving you, Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home, and when you are away on a journey, when you are lying down, and when you are getting up again.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7
Most of the parents I know have a strong desire to raise their children to be honest, respectful, thoughtful, and passionate about their hopes and dreams. With three boys, I know the difficulty in completing this task. When I was young, before I even had children, I imagined a plan for my parenting. After watching and listening to my parents teaching, I wanted to set the same example with some modifications. Although I wasn’t perfect, I did the best I could, following the manual God wrote. This is what I learned, lived and taught:
1. I gave my children to Our Lord. When they were just a couple months old, I had them christened. “Then He took the children into His arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.” Mark 10:16
2. I raised my children with loving discipline. “…Don’t make your children angry by the way you treat them. Rather bring them up with the discipline and instruction approved by the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4
3. I lived by faith in my own life. It is impossible to give away something you don’t have. I wanted my kids to know that we could ask God for all things in good times and bad and He would answer our prayers according to His Will and our desires. And He would never leave us or let us down. Matthew 7:7, Romans 8:28, Hebrews 13:5-6
4. I shared my faith early in my children’s lives. We went to church every Sunday and as they got older and balk, it was a nonnegotiable. They needed to know that spending time with God is important. My children heard me share my faith with others and heard me talk about the great things happening in the church. We prayed for friends and family and asked others for prayer. My children witnessed my quiet times every morning when I was doing devotions. We read and told bible stories at night. “You must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commandments I am giving you, Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home, and when you are away on a journey, when you are lying down, and when you are getting up again.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7
5. I served as a role model and set spiritual examples. I remember one day we were grocery shopping and my son found $20 on the floor. We really could have used that money and easily walked away without drawing attention. BUT, my children observed. We took the money to customer service. Shortly after we got home, we received a call from the lady that dropped the money, thanking us for being honest people. That was her grocery money for the week from social security. “Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you teach, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, your purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12
6. I taught basic spiritual principles to my children. I wanted them to learn that their actions revealed their value system. What they do shows what they really believe. “A good person produces good deeds from a good heart, and an evil person produces evil deeds from an evil heart. Whatever is in your heart determines what you say.” Luke 6:45
As the boys got older, my role changed from their primary influence to one of a mentor or coach. We shared more about growing in the Fruits of the Spirit.
• How to hear from God. The Holy Spirit speaks to our hearts. Hebrews 8:10-12
• What it means to be a student of God’s Word. One must love the truth 2 Thessalonians 2:10 and be willing to obey it 1 Peter 1:22. I have hidden your word in my heart, Psalm 119:11
• The act of surrendering to God’s will. Deny yourself; Matthew 16:24-27, Trust in the Lord; Proverbs 3:5-6, Draw near to God; James 4:8
• Only God’s grace can really build godliness. God provides all that is necessary for life and Godliness; 2 Peter 1:2-7
• Pray and Trust in Christ who is Our Lord. Those that know Christ, put their trust in Him, Psalm 9:10; Pray without ceasing, 1 Thessalonians 1:3; We are not alone in life, God is always with us so be strong with courage, Joshua 1:9
And now, young adult men my children follow after God’s heart in their own way.
What about You? Do you have a plan to leave a legacy of faith for your children?