Last month I was at a school board retreat. A question we discussed was, “What do we want our graduates to look like when they walk across the podium at the end of their senior year?” It got me thinking. Maybe one of the best ways to get something accomplished is to figure out what you want to achieve and then work backwards.
I think this could be one of the most important questions we as parents can be asking.
“When our children leave our home, what type of person do we want them to be?
Right now between the news and culture we can live in a lot of fear. It is really easy to then operate in fear and try to protect, shelter, ignore or fight what is going on in the world around us. Raising children is full of a lot of unknowns. Is what I am doing working? Is what I am doing harming my kid? Will they follow our lead and make wise decisions? What even is a wise decision?
Sometimes I find myself focusing on the wrong things. Will my daughter pick the right guy to date? Will we make the right class choice to set her up for success in college? What is the right amount of extra curricular activities? Should we allow video games or watch that movie? IT IS NEVER-ENDING! The decisions we as parents make can be frankly overwhelming.
I was talking with a friend this week and was admitting to some of the fears I am struggling with as a mom of maturing young adults. After she empathically listened she gently reminded me of the facts that I had forgotten: my child is a godly young woman and God will help her make the decisions she needs to make. She encouraged me to trust the process, to trust God. No, she won’t get it all right but God will be with her in that. What a wonderful reminder! Stop focusing on our fears, and focus on God.
This summer our family is studying Ephesians. This week we are reading chapter 4. Check out what God’s word has to say in Ephesians 4:11-16 NLT.
Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.
Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
Jesus, Just Jesus
The answer to all our questions is “Jesus.” Our children will withstand the culture’s negative influence if they grow in maturity in their faith and their knowledge of Jesus. Focus on Him and all the rest will fall into place. As we teach our children about Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit they will learn more about Him. They will learn about God’s heart and His motives. They will see how Jesus responded in different situations, and they will use that as a guide for their own life. They will seek after Holy Spirit’s guidance and be grateful they have help in decision making.
Our children will be known as men and women who speak the truth in love and who are becoming more and more like Christ everyday. With God’s help they will begin to make wise decisions and know the correct path for themselves. Then they can confidently live out their God-given purpose in the kingdom and help the body of Christ to grow healthy and be full of love.
This city girl never got into country music until Anne Wilson came along. Have you heard her song, “Sunday Sermons?” In the song she reminds us about two important facts:
- We will have “faith-shaking hard times!”
- The devil will try to take us out of the church!
These will be true in our own lives and in the lives of our children. We shouldn’t be solely focused on protecting our kids from hard times and the devil’s attacks. No matter how much we protect them, they are still going to go through hard times eventually. So our main focus should be to help them grow their roots so deep that they will withstand the attacks. Then, they will not walk away from their faith but instead become more and more sure of it.
In her song she lists two things that have helped her stay firm in her faith during those hard times:
- Truth: The Red letters, (Jesus’ words), coming off the page (the Bible) flooded her heart with amazing grace. Then she knew that she believed.
- Love: During the Sunday sermons and choir songs, she could hear her Savior calling, telling her how much He loved her.
A solid knowledge of the truth and a personal relationship with God are the two things your kids need. This combination will let them grow deep faith that will withstand the hard times and the devil’s attacks.
God First Not Last
Friends, this needs to be our #1 focus! How are you helping your children connect with the Lord? To really have a personal and intimate relationship with Him. One where their hearts are transformed and sold out to Him. Our kids need to know and believe that no matter what God will always love them. They are never too far gone to be 100% loved by our God. Are we reminding them that God loves them no matter what and that He uniquely created them on purpose for a purpose?
Make Him the #1 priority in your own life and in your family’s life. God over sports. God over academics. God over recreation. God over finances and health. God over family. God first!
Make time and provide the finances to give them opportunities to bump into Jesus. Go to church! Pay for them to go to church camp. Buy the Bible that they like. Give them devotional options. Send them to the conference. Pray that they are surrounded by friends and leaders who will encourage them and bring them to God. If you need to change churches to go to a Bible preaching, Holy Spirit-filled church that your kids want to go to-do it!!
And then pray. Or actually, pray first! We can’t make our children choose Jesus. We can do all these things and they still decide a different path. But even in those moments never stop praying. God hears and God moves. He loves them more than you and wants them to come home. He will never stop pursuing them. And I know that all those Bible verses and stories will come to mind at just the right time to call them home. Then we can be like the prodigal son’s loving father, and we can go running to meet them when they return to Jesus!
As parents we don’t have to have it all figured out, we just need Jesus. Follow His lead.
Check out Anne’s song here