What is the greatest thing the Lord wants for your kids? To be a good person? Be a part of a great family? Have good health? Have wealth? To serve God? To love others?
While all of these things are good, none are the greatest thing the Lord wants for your kids. The greatest thing He wants for your kids is for them to be saved. So, how can we parent in a way that supports that main goal?
Below are some Biblically based ways to parent with our children’s salvation in mind.
1) Our children need to know how to repent. Repentance is recognizing that I’m going in the wrong direction, deciding to stop, and turn to go in the opposite direction. In order for our children to learn how to repent, they first have to learn to be humble. So as a parent, how can we teach our children humility? It is by acknowledging that they are not always right and not always good. If you always think your child is right, and believe them over others, then you are training them to be prideful and arrogant. An example would be to believer your child instead of their teacher, when there is no reason for your teacher to lie. We all know that our kids are not always right; just like we are not always right. To teach them humility, we need them to know that they are not always right, and not always good. Obviously when they are right and good, we should acknowledge and praise them for it, but when they aren’t, we need them to know.
Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. Acts 3:19 NLT
2) They have to believe in and rely on Jesus. You can’t believe in and trust in someone you do not know, so they need to know Jesus. They get to know Jesus by us telling them and by them reading His word. They need to see us reading and relying on His word. If we parents do not believe something in the Bible is true, then our children will learn that the Bible can’t always be trusted, and therefore Jesus can’t always be trusted. It erodes their confidence in God’s word. Our children must see us not only read His word, but also obey Him and live fully for Him.
I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life. John 6:47 NLT
3) Our children need to follow Jesus. They need to go in the direction that He is going, in all of the different areas of their life. We parents have to instill that within our kids. We are always teaching our kids to either obey or disobey, so in everything we do we need to keep that in mind. When our kids see us living for and following Jesus in all areas of our life, they will learn and want to do the same. Then as they get older and leave the house, they will continue to follow Jesus.
Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” John 8:12 NLT
4) They have to learn not to quit. When the times get tough, when things don’t turn out the way we wanted, and when it is not popular, they need to continue to press on and not quit. When my son was younger and wanted to quit football because the coach didn’t put him in the game for most of the season, I didn’t allow him quit mid-season. I made him finish it. If I would have let him quit, he would have learned that it is OK not to fulfill his commitments, and it’s OK if he disappoints and let others down. He would have learned that his desires and wants are more important then others. By forcing our children not to give up on something when things get hard, or when they don’t turn out the way they envisioned, they learn a valuable lesson. They learn commitment, and how they are not more important than the others around them. In today’s society, many young adults do not stay at a job for long, and they rarely give 2 week’s notice when they resign. This is because they have never learned the importance of honoring their commitments, and think their wants and desires are more important than others.
God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12 NLT
5) Our children need to have a living relationship with God, which will transform them into the image of Christ. They need to love God and love others. They need to love others as themselves. It is amazing to me how many Christians love their friends, and dislike and make fun of others. They love other Christians, but not the non-Christians around them. They say they love God, but cannot stand the people that God loves and wants. There is a disconnect, and it is a Pharisaical attitude. The Pharisees did the same thing, and Jesus called them out about it. As parents, we need to show the love of God to everyone; believers, non-believers, neighbors, those in other political parties, the person that just cut you off in traffic, the alcoholic homeless person begging for money, and those who hate us for being a pro-life. In doing so, our children will learn what it really means to have a living relationship with God.
For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:14 NLT
6) They need to pray to God. In order for them to have a relationship with God, they need to talk with Him. You can’t have a relationship, if there is no conversation. Children will not have a healthy prayer life, if they do not see it first modeled by us. It can’t be just a prayer before a meal and at bed time; rather it needs to be a continual and habitual part of our life. Not only praying in the bad times when asking for God’s help, but also in the good times by praising and thanking Him.
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. Ephesians 6:18 NLT
7) Our children need to honor God. They can do this through worship. This is approaching God the way He said He wants to be approached. So kids need to attend to church and participate in the corporate worship of other believers. Parents shouldn’t let their teenager stay home because they don’t like the youth pastor. That only teaches them that they can make an excuse for not worshiping. A common excuse I often hear is that “I don’t need to go to church to worship God. I can do it at home by watching a preacher on TV, or watching a Pod Cast on the Internet.” However, that doesn’t qualify for corporate worship. Our kids need to be Jesus centered and others centered, and not self-centered. Years ago when we were youth leaders of a church, there were parents who dropped their daughter off at the Church for Wednesday night youth group. The parents didn’t attend the adult service, and instead went off to do something else. The daughter was a troubled teen, and the parents rightly demised that she needed Jesus. However, the only thing she learned was that “religion” was really not worth the time and effort, and when she became an adult, it was OK for her not to attend church.
Let the whole earth sing to the Lord! Each day proclaim the good news that he saves. Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does. Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise! He is to be feared above all gods. 1 Chronicles 16:23-25 NLT
8) They need to serve. There are so many believers who are consumer Christians. They come to church for what they can get, and not what they can give. Studies have shown that less than 20% of those who claim to be a Christian, consistently serve God in some capacity. That means the other 80% are being served. Our kids need to know that serving is required for a Christ follower. When we do not serve, we are not being obedient to God. Once our son got to an appropriate age, we required him to find a place to serve God. He is now a small group leader of 11th grade boys at our church. If we show a life-long, consistent pattern of serving God by serving others, our children will see the importance and joy. Then they will follow our example. If we are consumer Christians, then our kids will not learn the value of service, and instead will have a “what’s in it for me” mentality.
God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. 1 Peter 4:10 NLT
9) Our children need to obey God. If God’s word says it, then we need to try to follow it. When we see our kids not following God’s direction, we need to call them out, correct them, and provide the appropriate discipline.
Jesus replied, “But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.” Luke 11:28 NLT
God is our Heavenly father. He is the perfect parent, who loved us enough to send his son to die for us. He gave us His word to guide us, and He disciplines us when we go astray. So we parents need to follow His example. We need to raise our children, just like God is raising us.