(Whether a parent yourself, or a grandparent, an aunt, an uncle, a neighbor, a teacher, a scout leader, or whatever your role in the lives of the children around you, this important series will give you valuable tips on how to influence those kids for the Lord! To access the entire “Bringing up Kids God’s Way” mini-series, please click here.)
As parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and neighbors, there is nothing you can do that is as important as this: Teaching the child God has placed in your life to love the Lord. Up until now we’ve presented the preparatory steps: Having a relationship with God; committing yourself to praying for the children in your life; and asking God for wisdom for the thousands of decisions that you are required to make. But just what is the method to be followed for teaching those kids to love the Lord?
The answer is found in God’s Word: “FATHERS, do not exasperate your children; instead, BRING THEM UP IN THE TRAINING AND INSTRUCTION OF THE LORD.” (Eph 6:4 NIV).
Friends, the first and most important step is for YOU to take responsibility for your child’s spiritual upbringing!
So often we give this responsibility to others: Christian teachers, pastors, youth leaders, Sunday School teachers, etc. I’m not saying that these wonderful, God-filled people are NOT capable of leading your children to the Lord. On the contrary, Christian schools, churches, and Sunday schools are key organizations for children, and church attendance at an early age should be highly encouraged. But with statistics showing that many children brought up in Christian schools and Sunday Schools do not stay in the church, it is apparent that these important institutions are just not enough! We cannot assume that the church will teach our children the ways of the Lord. We must take this responsibility upon ourselves!
If you study the Bible, you do not see that children learned the ways of the Lord at church. In fact, until the first century, there were no churches, and Synagogues only came into existence during the Babylonian captivity. There simply were no pastors, no youth leaders, and no Sunday School teachers!
And did you know there is also no mention of schools in the Bible? We know that the sons of the prophets met together (See 2 Kings 6), which may have been some kind of a specialized school, but you do not see children in the Bible routinely going to school!
What you do find, however, if you choose to look closely into the lives of Bible people, is that for every godly man or woman mentioned, there is often a godly mother or father mentioned as well. Timothy had one. So did Moses. And Samson. And Jesus Himself.
One notable exception is Samuel. Samuel was not taught the ways of the Lord in the home. He was brought to the temple at a very early age and left in the care of Eli the priest (See 1 Samuel 1 & 2). And Samuel did grow up to be not only a great prophet, but also a powerful judge of Israel. I’m afraid, however, that his good upbringing had little to do with Eli, for at the time, Eli’s own sons were engaged in rampaging apostasy (See 1 Samuel 2:12-17). If you look closely at the story, you will see that Samuel had a godly mother who knew how to pray (See 1 Samuel 1)!
My point, friends, is that the Word of God lays the responsibility for the spiritual upbringing of children in the home!
But what if you don’t feel well-enough grounded in the Lord to take on such a responsibility!
Welcome to the club! Samson’s mother and father begged the Angel of the Lord to come back and teach them how to be good parents. Timothy’s mother didn’t have a degree in theology, and neither did Jochabed, Moses’ mother. Jesus’ mother was likely only 14 or 15 years old, and even she expressed concerns for the job (see Luke 2)! What each of these people did was they relied on God and sought His guidance. It worked for them, and it will work for you as well! Rely on Him and He will show you the way!
And what if you are not the parent of the child in your life?
Remember this: You cannot answer for a child’s parents, and what happens in the home is outside of your control. However, if you take that child’s spiritual upbringing as your own responsibility, you can still make a profound difference in his or her life. Commit yourself to prayer, follow the principles that will be outlined in upcoming devotionals, and ask God to show you how to witness. Rely on Him for the wisdom you will need to dance the fine line between influencing them for the good and stepping on the toes of their parents. God will show you how. He will open the doors! But only if you make it YOUR responsibility!
But if it is our responsibility, then how do we do it? Is there a formula? A recipe?
Unfortunately not. What we do have are a few Biblical principles to follow, and these will be the focus of the next five devotionals. The point I want you to go away with today is just this: You are responsible for the spiritual upbringing of your child! It is your God-given duty, it must NOT be pushed off on someone else! And the only qualification you need is to be personally grounded on the Rock, Jesus.
Please join with us next Saturday for Bringing up Kids God’s Way, Part 5b: Encouraging a personal relationship with Jesus.
God bless each of you abundantly as you seek to guide the kids in your life in the ways of the Lord!
In His love,
P. S: If you do not feel well-enough grounded on Jesus to take on such a responsibility, please email me at email@example.com . There is nothing I would like more than for you to learn about my Friend, Jesus, and I am more than happy to help you develop a personal relationship with Him!
(To access the entire “Bringing up Kids God’s Way” mini-series, please click here.)