If you are a parent, no one needs to tell you it is a tough job to carry out. You know it, you've suffered it, you've sweated the troubles, and perhaps bear the scars.
But you'd do it all over again; a few choices might have changed, but you'd weather the storms again.
As time goes by, we see the fruit of our labor in our children. Their habits, choices, and character traits- good and bad- are certainly their choices, but we can't deny the influence our own had on them.
What- if anything- can we sincerely say we are hoping to see in our children, and do our current words, and actions reflect that? Will they help us get there?
We want to teach our children the following:
- The fear of the Lord, which is the foundation of wisdom.
- Respect for self, and others.
- Godly, healthy love.
- The truth of Yahweh's Word.
a) slack off in the spiritual upbringing of our children?
b) set a good or bad example?
c) condone compromise in the home, or personal behavior?
d) enable ungodly speech or character?
e) pray for our children, and demonstrate respect toward our spouses?
The truth is, we cannot afford to waste time or slack off. We simply don't have that luxury, and we mustn't give it to ourselves. It is dangerous, and costly. It can be tempting to do so a day or two; our responsibilities can leave us running on empty, after all. But soon that day or two can turn into weeks of neglect. The technology our kids are growing up with is teaching them more about what is acceptable than we are.
What is their moral compass, and how are they using it? Is it truly the Scriptures, or are we fooling ourselves? Are we diligently teaching them, or are we blinded, believing they are as much followers of Christ as we are simply by association? If we are not honest with ourselves, we run a higher risk of seeing them fall from the path that leads to life.
As parents, we must be carefully aware of our own behavior, not just for our own sake, but for our children's. They forget nothing. They will remind us, learn, and imitate, to our dismay.
Do we express our anger in an appropriate, respectful way to others?
Do we put others down, or gossip about them?
Are we downright mean, and curse others?
Using the excuse of being human, and not being perfect is not an excuse at all. It is often an indicator of a lack of spiritual growth in the life of the believer.
When considering the effectiveness of our ministry at home, ask yourself the following:
How often are the kids reading, and studying their bibles?
Are you involved?
Are you praying as a family?
Are you, as a family, walking the narrow road when it comes to entertainment?
Are you careful to not let anything ungodly in your home whether physically, or through technology?
Are you quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry?
Are you asking questions, and answering theirs?
Are you present, and attentive when you're home with the family, or would taking a break from technology help?
A good place to start when realizing we need adjustment, correction, or improvement, is with ourselves.
This is not to condemn ourselves. It is to quickly make the necessary changes with the things we can control, while trusting Yahweh with the things we can't.
There are immediate ways we can make positive changes.
Sometimes we won't see the fruit for a few years, but it won't be in vain. Here are some suggestions:
- Create a routine where Bible study is done at breakfast time, or whenever it is convenient.
- Find creative ways to promote verse memorization.
- Don't just read the Bible, study in depth. Kids often understand more than we give them credit for.
- Find an apologetics course of some kind to study with the kids. Make sure they know why they believe what they believe.
- If there are personal changes you need to address, such as a bad temper, a bad habit, or ungodly characteristics, don't ignore them. Repent, and make the necessary changes. We have more influence than we sometimes realize.
- Provide an emotionally healthy environment for the kids to thrive in.
- Encourage journal writing or drawing.
It's never too late to influence our children, and it's definitely never too late to pray for them. They are, after all, ultimately in God's merciful, holy hands.
Are we content where our family stands today? Will we stand firm against the enemy? Yes, we will. We have our Savior on our side. Let's make sure we are on His.