Written By: Dana Hoebeke
One of the blessings we get as parents is hearing a good report about your child from someone outside the family. A teacher praising their character or one of your friends commenting on their politeness while your child visited their home. We start to feel like maybe we are doing something right, our children are displaying character that we are trying so hard to teach at home. The kind of character that points to the proof of their relationship with Christ. Scripture calls it fruit.
I am the mother of four teens, one is graduated. It warms my heart so much for someone to stop me in the hallway at church to let me know what a gem one of my kids are. It’s like a win for the God-centered parenting team!
I think all of us realize that consistency with kids is the key to breeding good character. However, consistency in doing what? How do we get our kids to choose to do what is right when we aren’t there, giving them a “look”, or actually telling them what to do?
The whole point of parenting is to one day release independent young adults. Ones that are capable of making choices without us and we hope and pray that they rely on God for their guidance to those right choices.
No step program, advice from a professional, or practiced secular behavior is the answer.
There is really only one answer. I am fully confident in this answer because I believe God, I believe what He says in His Word is true, and I believe He is faithful and true to fulfill what He promises in scripture.
The answer is your children have to love Jesus.
John 14:23 Jesus answered, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.
It sounds too simple right? Well let me tell you, it is simple. The key is consistency and open honesty with your kids as you are raising them. They have to know you are human and make mistakes too. Don’t forget your mistakes and lessons you’ve personally learned are not just for you. They always have a higher purpose. Your mess being turned into His Message is meant to be shared!
What we are really saying as Christian parents when we want our kids to choose to do right when we are not there is that we want them to follow Jesus, to not just obey us but ultimately obey Him.
Here are some pointed ways to help your children love Jesus, so they in turn desire to obey Him and live as a light in the dark world.
- 1 John 5:14-15 says “Now this is the confidence we have before Him; whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for.” We don’t have the ability to love God. He places the ability to love supernaturally within us. We have to teach our children to ask Him to create the love for Him that drives the desire to obey Him.
- James 4:17 “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” and James 1:22 “But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” We have to call it clearly what it is when obedience hasn’t happened. It is sin. Sin that needs to be confessed and repented from. Children are never too young to explain that wrongdoing, rebelling against God’s word, is sin. Keeping short accounts and a right relationship with God will ensure His Holy Spirit has free reign to sanctify them through and through, continually growing that love for Christ that enables the desire to obey.
- James 4:7 “Therefore, submit to God. But resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.” This is a small and very serious verse for them to understand. All Christ-like living begins with submitting or surrendering your will to God’s will. If you hold on tight to your will, your “want to”, and your own plans for life you’ll never be able to experience all the God has planned for you. Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Before your children (or you for that matter) were even formed, God had their days planned out, with blessings and an amazing future that includes doing good works for the Kingdom! We need to teach our children that if they aren’t obeying God, seeking His face, reading His Word and praying, that we might not be in the right position to receive all that He has for us! I can’t imagine how many intended, ordained blessings I missed out on because I was following my desires instead of Christ’s.
- Colossians 3:17 “And whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” Our kids need to grasp that each and every little thing they do can be done to God’s glory or not. There really isn’t an in between on this one. You either are or you’re not. Doing house chores with joy and helpful attitudes, doing school work with diligence, being kind to siblings and choosing not to fight, choosing to obey parents on the first time, choosing to not mouth back. All of those things are completely within their power to do because it begins with a choice. Choosing Jesus over self.
- Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” And Deuteronomy 11:19 “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” The chapter of Deut. 11 is God speaking, telling the Israelites that they’d better teach their children about all the Lord had done for them because they were not present during their deliverance. The younger generation did not experience the deliverance from the bondage of Egypt, the splitting open of the immeasurable obstacle of the Red Sea so they could walk right through it, the visible manifestation of the Sovereign God in the cloud by day and pillar of fire by night, the manna falling from the sky, the water from a rock and so many other miracles. Those children needed to know their amazing God, the Great I AM, and the only way they were going to hear about it all was from their parents. That’s us! We have to diligently, consistently teach our children who God is and who they are in Christ. They are joint-heirs with Him to the treasure of being God’s Child! All the promises and glorious riches of our gracious Father are theirs!
When you have children that are not exhibiting Christ-like behaviour, remember your benchmark is not that they obey you, follow you or mimic any other person….their benchmark is the Lord Jesus Christ. We are not called to follow Christians, we are called to follow Christ. The desire to follow and obey Him is hidden in having love for Him. If we love Him, we will obey Him.
3 John 1:4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.