Well, I believe that whatever choices my son makes, whether good or bad, Godly or godless, wise or “what were you thinking,” we feel as though we managed and invested well. We’ve known from his birth that our kids belong to God and that we are simply managers and investors with what God has given us “on loan.”
Life is about knowing and following an awesome God who by His grace offers forgiveness and freedom, even when things get difficult and challenging. We’ve guided Toby from birth to understand the importance of God’s inherent Word to teach and guide his life, the mandate to be active and serving in a church, to reach out to everyone with a love that is greater than ourselves, and to use his gifts for God.
Ultimately, and this is the difficult part, he’s now going to have to test all of this on his own, to learn for himself that God wants to protect, provide and preserve his life if he is willing to follow and live for God, to experience freedom with the foundation of personal faith.
Parents, it is your job to point your children towards God, not through religion or rules but through relationship. Relationship with God begins with knowing the love of Christ, a love that rectified our sin. And we return that love with a loyalty to God and obedience to His Word. This type of parenting is found all the way back in the Old Testament when God gave his parenting manual for the chosen people of Israel.
“Love the Lord with all of our heart and with all of your soul and with all of your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk at along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 6:5-9)
Loving God starts with you
We cannot teach our kids anything about loving God if we do not love Him ourselves. Too many parents want to teach their kids to have Godliness by sending them to church; Christian school, practicing rights of passage and rituals, but they themselves live ungodly and immoral lifestyles. Parents with authentic relationship with Christ are much more likely to have children who love Christ.
God’s word is to be what fills our heart
Instruction in God’s word starts from birth: my toddlers reading their picture Bible, my nine year old daughters reading their children’s Bible in the car on the way to school, my teenagers having personal devotions and reading their Bible app. The reading of God’s Word needs to be enjoyable and expected for every member of the home for every season of life.
Talk about God through every day conversation
God’s activity and His word needs to be a part of your everyday conversation: after watching a movie, listening to a song, making difficult decisions, helping a homeless person, after church services. These conversations reinforce that God is a part of our everyday lives, not just on Sunday morning.
It all begins at home
I’ve not found any verses in the New Testament that contradict or nullify Deuteronomy. So, I know that it is still the parent’s role to raise their children in the faith. Don’t pass this on to the church, youth pastor and Christian school. These elements are a great support system from God, but they are not the scriptural mandate for raising our children. Deuteronomy 6 is hard work for parents, and your children will not always respond. But that doesn’t mean you are to give up or give in to the world.
“The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him.” (Lamentations 3:25 NLT).
Our deepest desire and daily prayer will be that our son will make Jesus the center of his life and experience the fullness of God’s love and perfect plan.
But, at the end of the day, what I hope for even more, is that I will stand before my God and he will make this statement regarding how I handled the stewardship of what He loaned me: “Well done my good and faithful servant.” I hope that this too is your desire.
Pastor Brody Howell is the president and founder of Core Solutions for Family Life. He provides counsel to churches and schools for the purpose of impacting families and youth. He is also an area advisor for First Priority of South Florida and founder of The Family Counseling Center in Pompano Beach, offering biblical counseling to families and youth. He can be reached at [email protected] or 954-275-5487.