Raising Children God’s Way
How we raise our children is troublesome to me, and it burdens my heart because I deal with adults.
Throughout my pastoring journey, I have been on the receiving end of adults who are narcissistic, selfish, insensitive, and lacking in character. Unfortunately, I believe we co-exist with adults such as these because issues weren’t addressed when they were kids.
Eli the Priest and Parent (1 Samuel 2:12, 23-25)
Eli, a priest in the Old Testament, had two sons, Hophni and Phinehas. As generational responsibilities stood, these sons, too, would one day have the assignment and responsibilities of being a priest. But there was a problem.
In 1 Samuel 2:12, we read that Eli’s sons were corrupt and did not know the Lord. For example, they were known for stealing the meat offerings (vs. 14) and sleeping with the women of the church (vs. 22). Eventually, Eli got wind of how they were defiling the Lord.
So what happened? How did they become so rebellious as they lived a life around the temple and in the temple with the people of God? How did they get to a place of living such a raggedy, loose, undisciplined life?
Simply put, their behavior resulted from Eli giving them more reverence than he did to God.
“’ Why do you kick at My sacrifice and My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling place, and honor your sons more than Me, to make yourselves fat with the best of all the offerings of Israel My people?’”
1 Samuel 2:29, NKJV
The problem we face today and throughout the generations is that many parents give their children more precedence, privilege, and honor than they do to God.
They work their schedules around their children’s schedules, give in to their children’s desires, and allow them to call the shots in what is best for them as opposed to what God says should be done.
Eli was no different. He exposed himself to the shame of his sons’ choices because he had no discipline in his own life. And children will replicate what they see their parents doing.
When Eli died in 1 Samuel 4:18, we see that he fell backward and broke his neck. The scriptures give us insight into why he fell, for he was old and overweight. He had no discipline in his life.
He didn’t practice what he preached. He didn’t walk the walk of what he communicated. Instead, he said one thing to his children and did the opposite.
And sadly, we have many leaders in the church who say one thing from the platform but do something different when they walk out the doors.
How Jesus Was Raised (Luke 2:40)
Jesus, God in the flesh, was not born into privileged circumstances. He was birthed in a dirty manger and, like most of us, survived the teenage years.
In the book of Luke, we are given insight into how he prospered while walking the earth, and it’s a model for how we, as parents, should raise our children.
“And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon him.”
Luke 2:40, NKJV
I.Growth (Luke 2:40)
This verse begins by explaining that Jesus grew; the same goes for our children today. Children have to grow!
However, in many situations, some adults need to grow, too – they need to grow up! Unfortunately, too many adults act like kids when things don’t go their way.
They pick up their toys and go home when church doesn’t go their way, or someone doesn’t honor them the way they want to be celebrated.
When you grow up and mature, you can see very quickly that sometimes life doesn’t go the way you want it to go. But, again, this is behavior that is learned in childhood.
As a parent of six, I learned early on that my children had to learn how to share. With multiple mindsets, opinions, and desires, they couldn’t just have it their way all the time; instead, they had to learn what it looked like to put other people first.
II.Strong in Spirit (Luke 2:40)
We know that Jesus became strong in spirit, but what does that mean?
The word Spirit in this verse reflects the presence of God.
I love to worship, and I believe there is such importance to it. It teaches our children that there is a power greater than their wishes and wants and that there’s a God more powerful and important than mom and dad. And it is through the involvement of the kingdom of God that we teach our children about the presence of God.
Have open conversations about spiritual truths, how to respond to God, and recognize His voice when He shows up! We have the incredible opportunity to model what reverence, honor, and worship look like in our homes. And in doing so, we raise our children to be strong in spirit.
Listen, parents, my heart is that we would raise children to be mighty warriors in the kingdom of God! Let’s not be so consumed with our children getting straight A’s in school if they don’t know how to pray.
We are responsible for developing our children to wait on the Lord and be strong in spirit. So let’s not leave them out of our walks with God.
III.Filled With Wisdom (Luke 2:40)
Wisdom is one of my favorite things to preach because being filled with God’s wisdom is necessary as we walk this earth.
God revealed to me that wisdom means to look at life from God’s vantage point.
Too many people make the mistake of looking at life right in front of them rather than looking at life from 30,000 feet above. If you make decisions based on what you see before you and not from God’s perspective, you may miss what God is trying to accomplish!
I’ve learned throughout my life that what God brings me today is to prepare me for my future and what He has in store for me.
When I was pastoring in King George, Virginia (a rural country halfway between Washington D.C. and Richmond,) I had to deal with people who didn’t always agree with me. I learned how to work through those challenges in the stick country of King George, with only a few people, so that I would be prepared to handle the abundance of First Baptist Church of Glenarden!
God had to teach me, and as I look back now, I see God was using it as training ground. So be encouraged, Church; whatever you’re walking through now, God is using it to prepare you!
Young people, don’t look at life how your friends or the world does. For the world says, “Go ahead and be first. Get ahead, and you will have everything!” But God says, “Be humble, give, be last, and die to oneself.” So I encourage you to think the opposite of what the world thinks.
Parents, it is important to tell your story! Share your testimony of what God brought you through, and tell your children the mistakes you have made. Don’t leave it to your children to try to discover it on their own.
IV.Graced With Grace (Luke 2:40)
Jesus was graced with the grace of God.
Grace is God’s influence on your life. It is His empowerment to do what you’re supposed to do and be who you’re supposed to be.
Jesus had the grace of God upon Him. And young people, God wants to do the same with you!
I have learned as a parent that whatever God’s plan is for that child, whatever he has made and prepared them for, there will be a trail of opportunities and situations in their lives designed to prepare them for their ultimate assignment.
Our problem is that sometimes as parents, we try to force our children to do what we always wanted to do. But your child may not be graced to do that work! So, parents, I implore you to stop trying to make your kids live out what you have failed to do. Instead, try to discern the opportunities God is opening up for them!
What are the passions of their heart? God has graced them with grace in their giftings, anointings, abilities, and desires, and it’s our job as parents to help them on their journey. But, in addition to that, let’s help them recognize the doors that God is opening for them.
Young people, be sensitive to the opportunities God sets before for you. Recognize his grace over your lives. And most importantly, pursue humility.
God loves humility. Stop being a know-it-all, stop ignoring your parents, and look for opportunities to be humble.
James 4:6, NIV says, “But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’”
When you acknowledge you can’t go anywhere without God, He will grace you with grace.
All you have to do is grow in Him, pursue strength in Spirit, ask Him to fill you with His wisdom, and seek humility.