6 Non-Negotiables in Raising Godly Kids
Any serious parent wants the best for their child. Any serious-minded, biblical believer understands that the best path for their child is God's path. So, how do we help them there? What do we do to assist our kids onto God's pathway? You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.
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.
You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9 ESV)
1. LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART!
There is no substitute for this. Discipleship is more caught than taught and your children will likely love what you love. If that's the world and all its baubles or Christ and His riches, they will usually follow suit. There is no substitute for your children seeing you visibly in love with Christ, moved by Him, emotional about Him...doing all the things that love fosters.
2. CARRY GOD'S WORD ON YOUR HEART.
God's truths must not only be casually known by you, or simply embraced in your HEAD, they "shall be on your heart." This means they have been so spiritually digested and embraced that His truths are what you LOVE and LIVE.
3. TEACH THEM DILIGENTLY.
You must be committed to pouring this into your children. Let it become your main occupation. Your family is your first church. Your children are your first disciples. I have discovered that if a man has discipled his children well, he can disciple anyone.
4. TEACH THEM CONSTANTLY.
This is not a one-time, Sunday morning dumping of the gospel. Teaching is to be done when you sit, walk, lie down, rise up. All along the course of the day, you seize the "teachable moments" with your children. All of life is tied to biblical truth. Every encounter, every relationship, every habit, every situation and circumstance is an opportunity to teach. This MUST NOT be done in a preachy manner, but a normal, natural way. "This is what's valuable, son" "Here is what to do and why." “What do you think Jesus would want in this situation?" Look at these clouds—guess who made those and, what a job He did!" “Right now, in this situation, God is more interested in the process than the end result. This is a moment about faith.” And on and on and on…
5. FILL EVERY ENVIRONMENT WITH GOD'S TRUTH.
Every environment of the child's life (home, school, church, friends, play) should be filled with God's truth, so much so that it is a constant reminder and inescapable. For my wife and I, that meant that the early schooling (THE most formative years of a child's thinking) should not be turned over to those who have no concept of biblical truth.
We wanted our children to be protected and shaped well and would not release them into secular environments until we felt they could handle them well and be able to "stand alone." That's every parents’ call, but for us that was far later than most of our kids peers. This takes some real adjustment and surrender on both parents part, but you will never, ever regret it.
I have known many wonderful parents who did their jobs well but were naïve about the friendships their children were developing. Many well-meaning parents have lost their children because that environment was not rightly protected and filled with friends who helped their kids along God’s way. Godless peer pressure can trump a godly home environment if we are not careful and we can lose a child to God’s path.
6. REALIZE THE BREVITY OF OPPORTUNITY.
We only get one shot with our kids. I've never met someone who was sorry for "over-teaching" their kids the truth of Christ. But I've met many who wished, with all their hearts, they could do it all over again and follow God's instructions that are carried in this vital command.
But if, by God’s grace, you are able to look up from the lifelong task of parenting and your children are adults who walk with Christ (from the heart) you are most blessed. You will say with John, "I have no greater joy than this, than to see my children walking in the truth" (3 John 1:4).