Experience teaches us that it is much easier to produce a child than to be a parent. As one commentator rightly said, “Whether serving simultaneously as nurse, doctor, teacher, coach, disciplinarian, friend, and spiritual role model, wise parents will look to God’s Word for encouragement and direction.” This means, as Christian parents, we are so fortunate to have a role model—a God whom we call “Father” (Matthew 6:9; Luke 11:2), that the Scripture tells us, is loving, caring, and willing to help us become better parent(s).
Unfortunately, many Christian parents have chosen the ways of the “world” rather than the ways of God in raising or training their children. No wonder many of the children born to godly parents are growing up rejecting the faith of their parents. Some of them who have received godly training early in their life have repudiated the way of God later in life.
While parents are not completely and morally responsible for all the actions of their children, it is important to remember that a child’s behavior may be the direct result of how he or she was brought up. The popular view, of course, is that “it’s all on the parents,” if a child does well or not in life. The reason is because “parents are the first teachers, the first mentors, and the first to set life expectations for their child, either verbally or nonverbally.” The parents set examples to their child in everything they do—whether good or bad. As a matter of fact, from the day the child was born, he or she looks to his or her parents for love, affection, caring, comfort, and nurturing. All the child ever needed from that point on was the parents’ exemplary and unconditional love and care.
If this is the case, then, how should godly or Christian parents successfully raise their own child or children? What does the Word of God say about the role of parents or about godly parenting?
While hundreds of books and articles on this subject have been written and published at different times by scholars, theologians, pastors, and individual laymen and women—and special classes held in Churches designed to help parents understand how to raise or train their children—the Bible does not leave us clueless. It gives the parents the best advice about raising children. It is the best resource material that can help struggling godly parents to have a better understanding of how to train their child or children in the way of the Lord.
The Word of God clearly instructs parents to teach their children how they should live, and they will remember it all their life (Proverbs 22:6). In other words, as Christian or godly parents, we should train our children to choose the right way to spend their life—the way of God—not the way of the world. While this does not really guarantee that our children will remain with the same faith in which they are raised all of their life, or even retain the spiritual values they are taught when they mature, training our children in the way of wisdom to live in the fear of the Lord is good and pleasing to God.
Note Abraham’s example in Genesis 18:19! Here, God states that one of the reasons He was able to bless Abraham so abundantly and regard him as His friend was because He saw that Abraham would command his children to keep the way of God: “For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.”
The above verse, no doubt, speaks of the intimate relationship which motivated the Lord to accomplish His purpose in Abraham (see Genesis 22:12). The language “for I have known or chosen him so that he may command. . .” is “an expression of divine confidence, a tribute to faithfulness, obedience, and consistency.” Abraham was not only a loving and caring person, but he was also a righteous father. In fact, his love and devotion to God not only caused him to walk obediently, but also allowed him to influence others, especially his children and servants to do the same—to choose God’s way; that is, to live their lives in accordance with God’s laws—and God blessed him and his children.
Like Abraham, it is the responsibility of Christian parents, to not only give their child or children career preparation, but to also teach them biblical values and model for them lives of obedience. The most important task for godly parents is to love and really care about their children; and that includes the responsibility for teaching their children a love for God and His Word. This means Christian parents must train their children to know and obey God’s will, by regularly taking them to Sunday school and Church services, reading Bible stories for them at home, and allowing them to participate in family prayers.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 clearly sets a pattern that not only helps godly parents relate the Word of God to their daily lives, but also to their children. In this passage, God emphasized the importance of parents’ teaching the Bible to their children. First, parents are commanded to love God; second, they are to think constantly about His commandments; third, they are to teach God’s commandments to their children—they are to repeat them again and again to their children; and finally, both parents and children are to live each day by the guidelines in God’s Word.
Obviously, parents raising their children in the godly manner as instructed in this passage are not only giving those children “a sense of security, belonging, and support,” they are also helping them “to smoothen out the rough edges of their childhood.” They are giving them wonderful window of opportunity to see or experience what it would mean for them to choose the way of wisdom or God’s way of life—when the time comes for them to make a choice. Each decision they make to obey God’s Word brings a greater sense of order to their life, while each decision to disobey God brings confusion and destruction. In fact, the right choices they make reflects their integrity, and obedience to God’s Word brings them greatest safety and security.
Notwithstanding, it’s important to point out that parents cannot use the Church and Christian schools and colleges to escape from this responsibility. The Bible provides so many opportunities for object lessons and practical teaching that it would be a shame to not spend any or much time studying it. As we can see from Deuteronomy 6:4-9, there are biblical guidelines for Christian parents to follow—that would be helpful and profitable in raising their children in a godly manner. Sadly, most Christian parents pay little or no attention to studying the Word of God; some however study it only one day a week.
But the key to understanding the principles of godly parenting is to study the Bible regularly so as to understand its essential principles, and the lessons learned will remind us of how God want us to live and how He want us to raise our children. Honestly, it makes a more pleasant home to have children trained in reading the Bible, pure thinking, love, respect, obedience, kindness, humility, godliness, diligence, sincerity, patience, orderliness, tolerance, compassion, consideration, truthfulness, trustworthiness, self-discipline, purposefulness, service, commitment, excellence and a whole host of other godly virtues and characters—in contrast to homes in which children do whatever they please at all times.
Eternal truths are most effectively learned in the loving environment of a God-fearing home—where parents and children are constantly growing in Christ. As a matter of fact, children in a home managed by godly parents will have the opportunity to always see God’s way of life in action. They would be able to challenge their parents with new questions about godly living in the modern world. Then when they reach maturity (mentally or emotionally), the answers they got from their questions and the experiences they had will help them to have a better understanding of the consequences or rewards that will come from the decisions or choices they make.
The young Timothy, for example, was one of the first second-generation Christians. He became a Christian, not because an evangelist preached a powerful sermon, but because his mother and grandmother taught him the Holy Scriptures when he was a small child (2 Timothy 1:5). Besieged by false teachers and the inevitable pressures of a growing ministry, he could easily have abandoned his faith or modified his doctrine. Once again, the Apostle Paul counseled him to look to his past and to hold to the basic teachings about Jesus Christ that are eternally true: “You have been taught the Holy Scriptures from childhood, which are able to make you wise…. Therefore, continue in the truths that you have learned” (2 Timothy 3:14-15, writer’s paraphrase).
Like Timothy, we are surrounded daily by false teachings. But we must not allow our society to distort or crowd out God’s eternal truth. We must spend time every day reflecting on the foundation of our Christian faith found in God’s Word, the great truths that build up our life. A parent’s work is vitally important; at home and in Church, they should realize that teaching their children is both an opportunity and a responsibility. Since our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ wanted little children to come to Him (Matthew 19:13-15; see also Mark 10:13-16; Luke 18:15-17), today Christian parents, like Timothy’s mother and grandmother, Eunice and Lois, should do their part in leading children to Christ. They should give their time and attention to teaching and engaging their children with prayers.
In Alayo Miracle Church of Christ, for example, parents are scheduled so they can provide constant care for the needs of the children; and one of their primary responsibilities is teaching children a love for the Word of God. Not only that, prayer is also a “must” in preparing to minister to the youths. The Church children, particularly the youths, have the opportunity to develop both their spiritual and personal relationships with the help of volunteer parents. The parents derive joy in empowering the youths by helping them to identify their strengths (natural talents and spiritual gifts) and encourage them to take an active role not only in their own development but that of their community.
The Church has a year round program which serves the youths between the ages of 10-21, and the Church parents volunteer to provide a positive adult-mentoring that helps teen’s stand strong for Christ in a difficult world. Voluntarily, they take their turns helping the youths of the Church learn alternative ways to cope with their problems, how to remain in school, how to improve their relationships with their families, and how to reduce criminal activities, prevent and reduce youth substance abuse. In addition, they also take their turns working in the nursery at the scheduled time, and sometimes, they provide substitutes. These and some others are the roles of Alayo Miracle Church of Christ parents in helping young people to walk with the Lord and avoid the consequences of making foolish decisions in life.
While it is very natural in parents sometimes to want to make all the choices for their child, such practice is dangerous and always leads to unhappy consequences in the family. In fact, it doesn’t guarantee the child’s success in life—it may hurt him or her in the long run. When parents teach a child how to make decisions, they don’t have to watch every step he or she takes; they know their child will remain on the right path because he or she has made the choice him/herself.
For Christian parents, they need to understand that their mature children will make their own decisions about whether to obey God or not—to accept Jesus Christ into their lives or not. Of course, they need to teach and encourage their children to choose the ways of God, because there are numerous benefits for obeying God’s way of life; but they also need to realize that their children may have to learn through trials and errors and that they may choose a different path than the one in which they grew up.
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