“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 KJV
“Teach your children right from wrong, and when they are grown they will still do right.” Proverbs 22:6 CEV
When God gives you a child, it’s a gift and a blessing…and it’s your job to teach and train your child. Teaching and training a child is hard work. Have you ever been taught something? Have you ever been trained in a special skill? How about the first time you tried to learn how to use the computer?! Whew!! It takes time…it takes practice.
What’s the key to raising a Godly child? Ask God, our Creator, for instructions. Ask God for His plan for this particular child. For most people, having a child when they want to, is easy. It wasn’t for my husband and I…it took lots of time and effort. But really, the most difficult, time-consuming part is after the child arrives..the training part. It means the child isn’t raising himself. It takes giving him/her back to God, so people can see the beautiful child God gave you to raise for Him. Pray ahead of time, so you anticipate “prevention of problems,” rather than “crisis control.” Train him to give his heart and life to the Lord, not his habits to the enemy.
Dedicate this child to the Lord. This child, God’s gift to you, needs to be given back to Him. When you do, He returns the child to you, and then gives you the wisdom to raise him to love the Lord, praise Him, and serve Him. Amen!
Since we had to put such great effort into having our son, my family prayed. And I attribute this constant, continuous prayer year after year, for the precious gift of this Godly child. I don’t attribute it to myself, or what we did to deserve it.
As your child grows, always look to see God’s plan in your child’s life. Expand your child’s horizons and aspirations, with what God begins to show you about this child. Be sensitive to God’s leading. Every child’s God-given gifts and talents are different and unique. But kids are not normally confident in their abilities. Point your child’s talents out to him early in life. Let him know you love him and you’re proud of his successes. Use God’s manual-His Holy Word, to gather wisdom. Read the Bible, let it change your life, and put its teachings into practice to help change your child’s life in amazing ways. Pray that your child will stay close to God. Pray the verse in Proverbs: That your child will be “trained in the way he should go, AND that he will not depart from it.” This is your unique opportunity to disciple someone to live close to the Lord. You can’t raise your spouse, your parents, your siblings, or your friends. It’s your job from God to raise your child…to help him develop a tender heart for the Lord. To be pliable and on fire for God. You can’t live his life, but you can help him live his life for the Lord.
Be determined that this child will not grow up without faith in God: How?
1. Introduce him to Jesus immediately. Prepare your heart and home before the baby’s born. Everything you do and say should point that child to Jesus. Storybooks, music, nature, relationships, good habits, etc.
2. Let Jesus draw him and give him a tender heart towards the things of God. Pray that the Lord will guide his paths. Keep your mind, and your child’s mind, on spiritual things.
3. Teach him that to be saved is to serve…and lead by example. Look at it as if you’re being raised together in the Lord. Encourage your spouse to develop wholesome hobbies with your child. Utilize grandparents to look for the best in him. You can never have enough people who love your child. There could never be too many people praying for your child to be all he’s meant to be in the Lord.
4. Love your child the way Christ loves us. Let others love their children this way, too! You should love your child with all your heart..and they should love their child that way, too. They don’t need to feel the same way you do about your child, they should feel strongly about their child! But, pray for other people’s children, also. Mentor others. Allow Godly mentors to enter your child’s life. Encourage your child’s interests, and help them find ways for those interests to glorify God. Know their friends. Invite your child to bring Jesus with you wherever you go.
5. Establish a strong spiritual background surrounding your child through family, friends, church, etc. Establish wholesome, Godly habits and practices. Encourage spiritual awareness. Read the Bible with your children…make sure they understand the passages they’re reading, not just memorizing it.
6. Teach them to pray, and give them lots of opportunities to do it. And when they’re ready, encourage Water Baptism and Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Guide them into activities offered at your Bible-believing church and encourage outreach into your community. Sunday School, Kids Church, Youth Groups, Christian Camps, Bible Quiz Groups, Kids Quest Programs, Church Plays, and Christian Music are ways to immerse your child in God’s Plan for his life, and to eliminate the enemy’s plan to hold your child back and destroy him.
7. Pray, fast, and anoint with oil. Ask for the Lord’s guidance, blessings, direction, compassion, mercy, etc. Cry out, plead the blood, ask for Jesus’ blood to cover your child, ask for a hedge of protection around him. Let your child see you praying for his healing before he hears you calling the Dr., and asking for medicine.
8. Volunteer your child in the work of the Lord. Give your child a gentle push in God’s direction with lots of praise, lots of encouragement, and lots of faith in the goodness of God to use him in His Kingdom. Establish a habit of service.
9. See your child as a leader in God’s Kingdom…always looking for the talents and gifts that God gave him to use in the Body of Christ. Remember your child needs to be filled with the Holy Spirit to be filled to overflowing. To lead, instead of following every whim of society. Especially at school.
What are some practical applications?
1. Never say “NO!” when you can say “YES!” Never say “YES!” when you should say “NO!” Never say “MAYBE!” when you mean “NO!” Be consistent, be assertive…you’re the parent. It’s your job to raise the child. Anticipate the issues. Pray about them ahead of time. Remember “prevention,” not “crisis control,” whenever possible. Discuss with your child your views on drugs, drinking, smoking, dating, etc. while they’re young, before it’s an issue. Make your “NO!” absolute, set boundaries, talk about limits, curfews, etc.
1. Never seem shocked at what they want to talk about…be matter-of-fact. Be positive. Always, under all circumstances encourage your child to come to you and discuss anything. If they can’t discuss everything with you, even something embarrassing, they’ll go somewhere else for advice. You should be the one who determines if the issue needs another’s input. You’re the adult in charge of this child. God gave him to you. Care for your special gift. It takes God’s special wisdom and love.
2. Offer easy choices along the way with few consequences, so your child can gain confidence in making good choices and right decisions. Start asking him at a young age: “Do you want to play with the ball or with your teddy bear?” “Do you want the red shirt or the blue shirt?” “Do you want vanilla or chocolate ice cream for dessert?” If, on the other hand, the choice is yours, don’t give the child a choice. For instance, “Please brush your teeth now!” Not, “Would you like to brush your teeth?” Pray for wisdom between the two! When your child cooperates, thank him, to encourage cooperation the next time.
3. Make everything you want your child to do seem like a good idea to him. For instance: “Tomorrow is Sunday. On Sundays, we get to go to God’s house to sing and worship Him and you’ll be playing and learning about some awesome Bible adventures! I can’t wait!” Instead of, “Tomorrow’s church and I want you up early, so we won’t be late!” Positive presentation is everything! It increases the likelihood of cooperation, agreement, and acceptance of our plans.
4. Don’t argue with a child. Be the adult. Think ahead…ask God for wisdom. Choose the wisdom God gives you, and stick with it. Do not allow whining. Carrying-on by your child should not change your decision, if it’s a good one. If it’s a difficult choice, tell your child you’ll pray about it, discuss it with your spouse, and get back to him. Don’t be pressured by the wants of a child. They can take “NO!” for an answer. They can also understand, “Wait!” Say, “I can’t help you right now, but I can help you in 10 minutes.” This is a good answer to stop constant badgering, nagging, and interrupting.
5. Discipline should be appropriate to the age of the child and should start as early as possible. A forceful “NO!” and removing the child from the danger may stop a baby or toddler from touching something hot. Removing a fragile object will prevent breakage, and substituting another object for the fragile one may change the child’s destructive focus. Giving time-out is effective (but, not in his room with toys and TV!). We used “the bottom of the stairs” with nothing to stare at, but the wall. It produced a change in attitude pretty quickly! Taking away privileges (we used “The 3 T’s”–TV, Toys, and Treats), works well, even in the most stubborn years! It encourages an older child to think about his actions and to decide to follow the rules. Explain that the child always has the choice to behave and do right, or to disobey, but that disobedience has certain consequences. Then, explain the specific consequences. God does the same for us…He always gives us a choice, and also explains the consequences of disobedience in His Word. Many children will only obey when they are clear on what the consequences of misbehavior are.
6. Encourage the behavior you like and want to continue. If your child offers you a cookie and you don’t want it at this time, say “No thank you, but thank you for asking!” It encourages kind behavior rather than, “No, you know I don’t like those cookies!” Believe me, after a few times of hearing that comment, and other negative feedback, what child will keep offering to share things with anyone?
Teaching and training…it’s not magic. It’s only possible to raise a Godly child with the power of God. Pray! Because, “God is good, all the time. And all the time, God is good!!” Instill in them God’s confidence and the love of helping others. Teach them He can be trusted in every situation in life. Show your love of God and display your awesome reverence of God. Don’t teach him to be fearful of a cruel, punishing God. Telling a child, “God’s going to punish you!” without speaking about the love and mercy of God will make a child want to run and hide his sinful wrongdoings, instead of simply asking forgiveness from a loving, merciful Creator. A loving God embraces our weaknesses, hurts, failures, and mistakes. He forgives us, when we ask, and takes us back. Train them to see this God.
Pray with them. Ask for their prayer requests. Children’s prayers are powerful…children are innocent and bring so little baggage in with their faith. They still believe, “For with God all things are possible.” Mark 10:27 KJV Let Jesus look inside their hearts for faith to believe Him for their miracle. And with faith, their prayers will be answered. Encourage prayer, acknowledge answers, and praise God. Give Jesus all the credit.
Teach your child that being a Christian is fun! Don’t make it a hard thing, or drudgery. Are YOU having fun? Get more involved yourself. Your love of Christ and service to His Kingdom is contagious. Let your child catch it from you. Shine Jesus’ light all around you to your family, friends, neighbors, acquaintances, and in the Body of Christ. Your child will bask in the glow, and grow in the Lord to be all he should be according to God’s perfect plan for his life.
Raising a child who loves the Lord is the best gift you can give yourself, and it makes for a healthy, happy child (you can’t pray for anything better than that!). And God’s Kingdom will profit from your efforts. Your child should know your best friend-Jesus.
Disciple your child. It won’t always be easy. He may have your disposition, but maybe not. He may be easy to mold, maybe not. He may be defiant, argumentative, disobedient, and whiny. Discipline, lead, guide, teach, and train as young as possible. “NO!” if necessary. Divert attention, if possible. “Let’s play this!” instead of with something dangerous. It’s the same when they get older; guide them towards Godly activities instead of worldly ones. Never dwell on what they can’t do or are not allowed to do, but be enthusiastic about what they can do and will be allowed to do. Allow your child to find a place to lead. We need more young Christian leaders, children of faith with strong convictions that are not swayed by society.
Years ago, I had a vision: My cousin’s daughter had just had her first child. God showed me He would need the children of her age in His Kingdom in the end times, and He would raise them up for His glory. That child is now 13 years old. This is the end-time generation the Lord will use. It’s your job, with God’s help, to instill those Godly qualities in your child that He can use in His Plan for His Kingdom. Since it’s His Plan…we need to follow it! Teach perseverance, endurance, achievement, excellence, and accomplishment for the things of God.
Raise up children of integrity in all situations…when you’re watching them, but also when you’re not nearby. People notice. Encourage your child to respect authority, but not to be intimidated by adults…for their safety, they must have a healthy questioning and discernment, too! Train them to speak up and speak out against something that doesn’t feel right.
What’s my advice to those of you who are leaders of our children and youth…in churches, schools, sports, and clubs? Train, teach, and disciple. Enjoy their energy and channel it towards service to the Lord. Build upon what their parents have already done. Reinforce the training they’ve received at home. Parents are giving you their best offering. Their child, their gift from God! What a treasure! What an awesome responsibility for you!
But, what if parents haven’t done their jobs, and children come to you untrained and even unteachable…not ready to learn and not tenderhearted to the Lord. Then, it’s your job to be aware that these children are raising themselves. They’re undisciplined, and perhaps unloved or neglected. So God in His ultimate wisdom has raised you up with His anointing for such a time as this. Step up to the plate, in the place where He has planted you, to touch the children around you. Even the unlovable. Especially the unlovable!
Sometimes after an evening of teaching in kid’s club, I ask God, “Why can’t you give me only good little church kids to teach?” And on other, even more difficult evenings, I ask God, “Why can’t even ‘the good little church kids’ be good?” Some days or nights you’ll go home tired and frustrated, too. You’ll want to give-up. You’ll wonder, “What’s the use?” It’s hard work. Truly rewarding work, with awesome eternal value, but definitely not for the faint-hearted. Be patient, persevere, pray (a lot!), fast, and ask God for direction. He’ll help you with creative discipline for each individual child and each unique situation. These are your children…God gave them to you in this ministry, at this time. It’s an awesome job to help raise a Godly child.
What are your qualifications to help them? You’re only qualified through the love and wisdom of God. Seek it out! And then, spread the “Good News” around. Because, only God can raise a Godly child.