“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Psalms 22:6 NKJV
Of all the influencers in the world, you may find it a bit surprising to know that the people who hands down have the most impact on influencing the future of the world is…. drum roll please, parents! By far parents are the ones who will predictably shape the future of the family, the local community, and the world.
It is both a calling, a ministry, and service, that takes on many different roles. Is there a manual or college course with a specific ‘how to’ on how to effectively navigate and manage the different skills required to raise a child in the admonishing of God? Well, it is not being taught in any college to speak of, however there is a manual of sorts that we can refer to for guiding principles on the various roles Christian parents must undertake. The bible. Let’s explore shall we.
Parenting Your Child is Job One
“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” Deuteronomy 6:6,7 NKJV
Quote – “Let no Christian parents fall into the delusion that Sunday School is intended to ease them of their personal duties. The first and most natural condition of things is for Christian parents to train up their own children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” ~ Charles Haddon Spurgeon
The modern society has relinquished a lot of parental guidance and teaching to the various educational institutions. Somewhere along the way we have lost sight of the integral part that parents have in the development of their children, not only in academics but also their emotional and spiritual well-being.
This role cannot be delegated to others because as Christian parents it is a mandate to impute into children the spiritual principles that will set the course of their lives.
The above verse clearly spells out to what degree and how Christian parents are to impart spiritual guidance to their children. Note what it says: “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.”
Clearly this is not a case of ‘do as I say’. ‘Do as I do’ is what is needed here. Leadership by example first begins in the home in front of your children. The spiritual insight that you want them to live by must first be firmly established in you.
This cannot be faked or superficial. Children have a keen sense to determine if you are not authentic. This is a vital role for you to fulfill. Being the role model that they see every day will have a lasting impact, and especially if they see that you don’t take it lightly. What other roles does the Christian parent take on in raising a child?
Discipline Is A Necessary Part Of Loving Them
“To discipline a child produces wisdom, but a mother is disgraced by an undisciplined child.” Proverbs 29:15 NLT
“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11 ESV
This is the part of parenting that many don’t like, some disagree on, and others ignore. However, the courage to bring loving discipline to your child is necessary for your development and theirs. It is something that cannot be ignored or taken lightly. It may be different for every child because they all have unique personalities and ways of learning and being taught.
Remember that God, the father of us all, has set the example of disciplining us as his children and he expects no less from you and I regarding our own children. Ironically even though it may not seem so, your child craves structure in a sea of uncertainty.
Discipline is a part of parenting where many need some help on how to effectively apply it for the most benefit. It is ok, to seek help and advice from other parents, a pastor or advisors who are well versed in the biblical principles of discipline and willing to share their experience.
Keep in mind the specific reason and objective of the discipline and make sure it is tailored to achieve those results. It should not be done in anger, but with a desire of character building. Even in discipline, love should be evident. Your children should always know that you have their best interest in mind with a vision towards their future.
Setting A Good Example
Quote – “You want to mess up the minds of your children? Here’s how – guaranteed! Rear them in a legalistic, tight context of external religion, where performance is more important than reality. Fake your faith. Sneak around and pretend your spirituality.
Train your children to do the same. Embrace a long list of do’s and don’ts publicly but hypocritically practice them privately… yet never own up to the fact that its hypocrisy. Act one way but live another. And you can count on it – emotional and spiritual damage will occur.” ~ Charles (Chuck) Swindoll
“Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity…” Titus 2:7 ESV
Nothing can derail your relationship with your child more than living a hypocritical lifestyle in front of them. You cannot admonish them about cursing if they hear you swear to your next-door neighbor or hear less than edifying gossip about others. They are always watching and listening, so you do not want to normalize anything that is contrary to the godly principles you are trying to instill in them.
Also on the other hand, do not be afraid to engage in meaningful conversations when appropriate about the mistakes you have made, so that they can learn to avoid them. This can grow a deeper bond and make them more open to coming to you with their problems, concerns and shortcomings. You want to be relatable, transparent and approachable.
Providing For Their Security
“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
1 Timothy 5:8 ESV
Of course, providing for your family and children does mean financially, however there is so much more. Equally as important, you have the obligation to provide love, patience, a warm secure home and other essentials to the welfare and survival of the child.
If these areas are willfully neglected, then your child will act out in defiance and a cry for help because they will feel an overwhelming sense of insecurity.
Providing for your child must be a balancing act to meet their needs but not to indulge in giving the child everything that they may ask. Giving into every demand of your child is not an act of love and it can lead to damaging unrealistic expectations, that will bring unnecessary hardship.
Remember you are going to be setting the pattern that your child will most likely duplicate when they have kids of their own. God provides for our needs but does not entertain our indulgences that come from wrong or unhealthy motives.
When We Get It Wrong
“Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” Colossians 3:21 NKJV
If there was a step-by-step template for raising children, a checklist of what to do in every situation, the job of parenting would be a breeze. However, if you’ve ever been confronted with a child who is throwing a temper tantrum in Walmart, you realize in those moments just how unprepared you are. Nevertheless, you must address the situation and get the child under control, hoping that no permanent emotional damage has been done and that you have your sanity intact.
It’s unrealistic to expect perfection from yourself when it comes to raising a child. You will make mistakes. It is important to look at common mistakes and find ways to avoid them.
Lacking A Knowledge Of God
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10 NKJV
By far one of the biggest mistakes a Christian parent can make, is to attempt to raise a child with absolutely no knowledge of God, little knowledge of him, or no relationship.
Godly parenting requires far more than tips and techniques. It begins with knowing God. It’s not just a matter of effort and method, but it involves reflecting your relationship with God to your child. Your day-to-day lifestyle and modeling will have the greatest impact.
Some basic things that your child should be seeing in your daily life, such as bible reading, daily devotion and prayer may seem insignificant, but if it is normalized as an important priority, they will grow up with the same since of importance in their lives.
You cannot live a hypocritical lifestyle in front of them. It is a devastating testimony and will cause resentment and rebellion that is not easily tamed.
Remember, God is our heavenly father. He has given all of us insight and wisdom on how to duplicate his parenting skills to our children. In addition to other books and resources for parenting, the Bible serves as the foundation for parenting with a godly vision in mind. Having knowledge of the overall plan of God can guide your interactions with your child, as you prepare him or her for the future.
Most certainly they may go astray, but God is responsible for the results of the seeds sown by your consistent behavior.
Lack Of Meaningful Communication
Yes, I’m sure most parents talk to their kids or talk at them daily. But how many times do they connect on an emotional level where the child understands that they are understood?
In the daily hustle and bustle of life, it is easy to bark out orders and commands and expect them to be carried out. But do we actually take the time to ensure that the child clearly understands in their mind?
For example: You tell your child to go clean his room. Sounds simple enough, right? Two hours later you ask, “Did you clean your room?” The child replies “yes”!
Upon further inspection, it is quite obvious that your idea of a clean room and his is very much different. At this point you have options and decisions to make. Do you scold him for not cleaning the room to your standards that he knows nothing about? Or do you bring him to the room and go over it with him, assist and point out the standard of a clean room?
While it may be more of a challenge with younger kids, with older children this is the perfect time to mold their own decision-making skills with reverse role interaction.
Example: “David, I am going to pretend to be your 15-year-old son. Tell me what you expect a clean room to look like in detail, and how do I achieve that?”
This can be a fun interactive way to teach standards, and to communicate your vision for a clean room that the child can imitate. Will this work every time and with every child? Absolutely not. Every child is unique with different personalities.
But if you never take the time to see their perspective and communicate clear concise instructions, you will begin a long cycle of frustration for both of you.
Overexposure To World Culture
This is a challenge for any parent, regardless of your spiritual status. I don’t know any parent who would say that the world is teaching their kids all the right things that they approve of.
We cannot isolate our children from the world; however, we can guide them and show them ways to “be in the world but not of the world.” Peer pressure is strong, and children need to know how to defend themselves against it.
It’s a fight they will not win every time and that is OK, because life is a learning process. A teaching moment could be as simple as comparing or showing the lives of other children who are on a different path and have different outcomes. Often showing the results of a different path is more than enough to get the point across.
When you emphasize why it is not wise to get pregnant as a young teenage girl still in high school, you may be able to point to another who is dealing with self-imposed hardship. Or perhaps you can show the accumulative frustrations of the parent that has to go to the local police station for the actions of their son.
You can even point to the end road of a wayward son who disobeyed Godly wisdom and found himself in the middle of gang and drug activities. Do this with loving concern of their future in mind.
Failing To Train For Their Future
“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.” Psalms 127:3,4
We must never lose sight that we’re training our children to be able to operate independently of us. They need to be as prepared as possible to make good decisions without our input. Laying the spiritual foundation on which all other things will be built on has to be a priority.
Your child’s life will depend on it. When you release your child out into the world, they will be carrying their hopes and dreams and striving to bring them to reality. But also, they will be the visible report card to the world of how well you have done as a parent.
You may never have the platform of a celebrity, or world leader, but make no mistake, that your influence over the direction of this world is just as powerful as anyone living today. For you will impact the world in untold ways by the deeds and attitude of your child.
Will you release a child that impacts the world with devastation of hatred, debauchery, and chaos that will bring you shame? Or will you release into the world a child who demonstrates a powerful reflection of God’s attributes that will cause the world to marvel and give honor to God?
The Goal Of The Christian Family
As Christians, we have an awesome responsibility to our families. We have a mandate by Jesus Christ, to bring about effective change into the world. The primary tangible way in which we do this is through effective parenting.
Christian parents should be ready and willing to express love to their children. They are to provide a tangible example of God’s love for them. When children are truly loved and cared for by their parents, they get a small glimpse of what God’s love looks like for us.
The overarching goal of the family should be to honor God, edify the church, and promote and support Christian values in the community.
The kind of change you want to see in the world should be cultivated at home in the family, with the goal of launching the next generation into a world of darkness with the light of Jesus Christ.
“But did he not make them one, having a remnant of the spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore, take heed to your spirit. And let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.” Malachi 2:15 NKJV
The above verse is sweeping in scope. It gets right to the heart of why the family is so important to God. As Christians we are the very hands, feet, eyes and ears of God. He wants to duplicate his Spirit and his attributes into each child that comes into the world.
God has given the role of teaching, modeling his love, and principles to the parent. When you think of the responsibility that parents have in shaping the world through their offspring, it should make us all want to give our utmost service in support of changing the world one child at a time.
Eugene Coghill is a Road Test Examiner for the State of Massachusetts. He is a contributing writer for Faith Filled Family Magazine and is the author of two novels, Love Is A Fishnet, and A Loving Deception. He is a member of American Writers and Artists Inc. where he is pursuing a freelance copywriting career. Various careers have included the United States Marine Corps, corporate investigator, and law enforcement, and Tractor Trailer driver. Speaking to troubled youth as a way of giving back and road cycling are among some of his passions.