King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, wrote, “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him” (Psalm 127:3 NLT). Our children are a gift to us from God.
Children are not ours to possess; they belong to the Lord. And we want to do everything we can to point them back to Him. Children are not ours to mold but to unfold and discover the unique people God created them to be.
We are not to teach our children to be dependent on us for the rest of their lives, but to be independent–and more importantly–completely dependent upon God Himself.
Yet in so many cases today, children are left to themselves. Parents aren’t raising their kids; our culture is raising our kids. The media are raising our kids. Movies are giving our children their values and morals. Music is giving them their belief system—or their peers or teachers at school.
This isn’t the way it should be. Parents shouldn’t be doing this.
A Parent’s Job
Also, it is not the job of a Sunday school teacher to raise your children in God’s ways. Instead, they are there to reinforce what you’re already doing at home and to support you in what you’re doing as a Christian parent.
Even if your children attend a Christian school, it doesn’t relieve you of your responsibility as a parent to bring your children up in the way of the Lord.
God will hold us as parents accountable one day. He has given us this responsibility. It isn’t optional. It is hard to believe sometimes, but even the sweetest child has a sinful inclination. The Bible says that we are born with a natural inclination to do wrong.
David wrote, “For I was born a sinner—yes, from the moment my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5 NLT). Sin is not a learned behavior; it is an inbred disposition. Children get it from their parents, who got from their parents, who got it from their parents—all the way back to Adam and Eve.
We are not sinners because we sin; we sin because we are sinners. And it comes naturally to our children just as it came naturally to us.
I never had to say to my two sons, “Now today, I want to teach you how to sin. Let’s start with selfishness. Repeat after me: mine.”
I didn’t have to teach them that, because they already knew it, just like I knew, and just like everyone else knows. There is a sinful bent inside each of us.
While it’s very important to teach our children things like good manners and to be hard workers, first and foremost we are to point them to Jesus Christ.
I know that our tendency as parents is to protect our children and isolate them from this harsh world. And of course, we want to protect them and be a godly influence in their lives. But we also must prepare them to live in the real world.
That means we need to understand that these influences will find their way into their lives, no matter where they are. They may be in a Christian school with Christian friends, but they are going to talk to other kids. They will be exposed to things at the mall and on their phones or computers or television screens. We can’t keep them away from these things 24/7.
Rather than trying to isolate your children from all these influences, try to prepare them for how to deal with those things. That is where your godly influence comes in as you point them in the right direction.
And by the way, if you think you’re a failure as a parent because you have a prodigal son or daughter, remember that God the Father has a few prodigals too. It isn’t necessarily an indictment of the way you raised them; they are simply exercising something called free will. So pray for them and keep loving them.
Moses gave this advice about raising children: “Repeat [God’s commands] again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up” (Deuteronomy 6:7 NLT).
To me that sounds like quantity time, not quality time. When you are around your children, take every opportunity possible to instruct them in the ways of the Lord.
What You Need to Lead a Child
But first you must have a relationship with God. You cannot lead a child any further than you have come. Foremost, a parent must have his or her own relationship with God, because nothing can happen through us until it has first happened to us.
We must ask ourselves the question, “Am I walking with God?” The apostle Paul wrote, “Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me – everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9 NLT).
It is hard to train children in a way that parents don’t go themselves. Minister Andrew Murray wrote, “The secret of home rule is self-rule, first being ourselves what we want our children to be.”
Are you leaving a godly legacy for your home, for your children? Are you pointing them to the Lord?
We need to prepare our children, because we never know when they could go or when we could go or what course life may take. We want to do everything that we can to point our kids to Christ.
So take time for your children. Value and treasure each moment you have with them. You will be glad that you did.