In the midst of this world it is a sobering thing to see how many children raised in godly homes do not stay in church. Even if their lives are not wrecked by drugs or alcohol, still they are no where to be found on Sunday Morning or Wednesday night prayer meeting. Instead their “church” is the athletic club, the bowling club, the local dog training club, the country club, or just about anything else where people meet outside of church together on a regular basis. Did you ever wonder why Wednesday nights seems to be so popular for club meetings? But raising godly children starts long before they are out on their own. Their life patterns, values, and motives are established while they are still under your roof. So let’s take a minute and prayerfully consider some points for training up a child in the way he should go.
More of raising Christian children is more caught instead of taught. The children see from the time they are small how much importance God has in your own lives. Children are the adults of tomorrow. They see us at our best and also our worst. So the first part of raising a godly household falls to the spiritual lives of the parents. Do you children see you reading your Bible in the mornings or evenings? Do they ever see you praying when they don’t think you see them. Where can we find you on Sunday Mornings and Wednesday (or Tuesday for our church) prayer meetings nights? Are you always in your local church at these times unless you are sick, traveling for work, or taking the family on vacation? So begin by examining your own life.
Probably the most famous verse about child rearing is found in Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
I believe this is true. What you teach your child verbally and also through example will show in his or her life. Teach them Bible verses, teach them Bible stories, read them missionary stories. Once they are able to read on their own, reward them for reading the Bible. One of our children has struggled to learn to read. In the summer times we do our own little reading program for her. We have a set of books that she can choose from that are within her reading level. Each time she goes and gets a book and sits down with us to read we promise to give her a dollar as a reward when she completes the book. When she has earned so many dollars then we take her to the store and let her pick out something she has been saving for. As hard as reading has been for her, it thrilled me to the bone when she got out her little wallet last week, noticed she only had a few dollars left, went and got a book out of the stack, came over and asked me to read it with her. Rewards are an important part of child training.
So why not apply rewards to Bible reading for children? If they read an entire book on their own take them out for ice cream. If they read the new testament give them a present, prize, or something as well as your praise. When I was young my mother bought me a Bible story book that was on the book table at church. Then on Wednesday nights during the adult Bible study I sat in the church kitchen and read all the way through that story book. I still have it and I still remember reading from it.
Here are some points to ponder for raising a godly child, that I would encourage you to seriously pray about and apply to your own family life. Major on keeping your child’s heart. Make them a study in your own life. Know what is important to them, know where they are all the time, do things — lots of things– together. You and your family need to be the center of your children’s lives instead of the other neighborhood kids, the other kids on the internet, or other kids from school.
1. Guard against who they spend time with.
2. Turn off the social media of Facebook, Twitter, etc. I don’t believe children should even have these accounts until they are adults. Children need to learn to invest their time constructively, not wasting it chatting on the computer with people. Just recently there was an article online about a teen girl who was kidnapped and murdered by a man in his 20’s that had seduced her through a relationship that had been cultivated through a social media site.
3. Do things, lots and lots of things, as a family. If you turned on your digital camera, how many photos would you find of family outings? Go bike ride together, fish together, ride horses together, watch good movies together, hike together, clean the house together, play board games together, buy a new basketball hoop instead of a new video game consul. Consider selling something and instead buy a camper to take your family places. These all become very very important. You need to build a relationship with your child and know what is important to them, what frightens them, and what they look forward too.
4. Know your child’s schedule. If they are in baseball then one of the parents needs to be the one to take them to all the practices. Don’t let them just melt out the door and end up at a ‘friend’s’ house leaving you not even knowing where they are.
5. Be involved in your child’s education. Whether your child is in public school, private, or home school, you as the parent need to know what projects are due when, how the child is doing in all of his or her subjects, and stay in touch with the teacher. Create opportunities when you turn of the TV, radio, and internet and cultivate your child telling you about their days. Listen to them. Listen and talk with them about if anything is upsetting them, what other kids did, how they like the teachers, what the teachers are teaching, how practice went, what do they want to do on the weekend, and on and on.
6. Pray about homeschooling your children. Homeschooling is not for everyone, but it provides the opportunity of making the home the center instead of the public school.
7. Choose who their friends are. It is a good thing for siblings to be close friends and to play together. These kinds of friendships last lifetimes instead of until the other kid moves out of town.
8. Keep their heart.
9. Save Christian Dating for when they are 18 or 20, not 12.
10. Stay faithful to your family devotions, your personal devotions, and your local church.
Over the years of ministry the children who grew up and continued living for the Lord were almost always the ones whose parents spent the most time with them. Raising godly children needs to be a priority. There is no way to go back and raise them a second time. We are all going to make mistakes but we need to train up a our children in the way they should go and trust they will not depart from it.