Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding.
– Proverbs 4:1
“But my friends told me to”.. This is the sentence that recently has begun to come out of my oldest daughter’s mouth. These words might seem harmless, no big deal, but if we pay close attention, we see that in them lies the potential for disaster.
She is such a fun-loving, high-energy, outgoing, people-loving little girl. I absolutely love this about her, and I know how beautiful these qualities are when used for the will of The Lord. But, you see, for her, being a people person, also means being a people-pleaser. She so badly wants to be just like her friends, and do exactly what they do. As Christians parents, we know how unsettling it can be to see our children have this type of mindset, if the ones around her are not behaving in the ways of Christ. As much as my daughter loves Jesus, and with all of her heart she does, there are times where the urge to fit in has caused her heart to stray. If her dad and I do not purpose to reign this in, and to focus it in the right direction, these qualities can lead down a very destructive path.
I have seen how The Lord has already begun to do a beautiful work in her, she has such a hunger, and a want to know as much as she can about Him. Countless times she has shown us how much she wants to do right by Jesus, and how sincerely she wants to follow Him.
..But then, the world.. that lying, deceptive world. My daughter is only 6, and already we have seen how quickly she can be influenced, if we do not make sure to protect her, and guide her.
It’s so tough being a parent. We so desperately want our children to follow after God, to love Him with all that they have, and to have the boldness to stand up for the things of Christ. We can do our very best to try, and shield them from the darkness, but sooner or later they will have to go out into the world, without our constant watch, and we have to believe that through the grace of our Lord, and through what we have taught them, they will have the courage to boldly let their light shine.
As a mom, this is my deepest fear: to watch her love for The Lord slowly start to fade. To watch as the enemy quietly, relentlessly whispers his lies into her ears. To see the world quickly become the road that she chooses, and the path of Jesus, the one that she rejects.
It’s a scary reality that we have to acknowledge as parents. The temptations are strong, the world is relentless, but even so, Jesus is stronger. Let’s look to Him to show us how to guide our children in the right direction. Let’s not grow weary in fighting against the enemy for the sake of our children. Let’s never stop protecting them from those ungodly influences, even when it feels like an unwinnable battle. Let’s stand in the gap for our children.. Let’s encourage them to live a life that honors God in every single part. The world may be loud, but we can be louder. Let’s teach, not only in words, but in action as well. Let’s show them that yes, the world and things of it may be enticing, may be pleasing to the flesh, but not one thing in it can ever compare to the joy that will fill them when they choose Jesus.
I was hoping to keep this list short and sweet but when I started to go over the different ways that we can encourage them to follow after God, the list just continued to grow. Every single one is so important, and deserves to be listed. As parents we have such a huge responsibility, it can be very overwhelming at times, but what greater responsibility is there than to help our son/daughter to become a true, and faithful servant of God?
Here are some ways that we can instill in our children the faith, courage, and strength to let their beautiful light shine in this dark world:
Pray For Them & Pray With Them
This is a biggie! There is no greater gift that we can give our children than to pray for them every single day, even numerous times a day. The Lord hears your prayers mommy, He loves your children even more than you do! He desires to bless them, to strengthen them, to use them for His glory. We have the duty to pray for our children without ceasing. Never stop praying! Pray that the love of Christ flow through them, that they would obtain wisdom and discernment, that the enemy would have no place in their life, that they would seek after God with all of their heart, soul, and mind, and pray that His will always be done in their lives.
Also, teach them to pray. Teach them why we pray, and the power that prayer holds. Help them to learn to make prayer the first thing that they turn to in every situation.
Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
– Philippians 4:6
Read & Teach Them The Bible
Let the Word of God continually fill your home. Let them see you reading it. Read it to them at the breakfast table, or at the dinner table, and before they go to sleep. When they face a challenge, or a decision, help them turn to The Bible to see what God wants them to do. When they are struggling, read the Word to show them how much The Lord loves them. Teach them about His commandments, and that in loving Him, we must obey Him.
Read the different stories to them, and help them to understand what each one means, and what they can learn from them. Depending on their age, encourage them to seek His Word, on their own. Teach them how special, and how amazing this book is. Help them to see it as their most precious possession, and to value it far above everything else.
My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments.
– Proverbs 3:1
Encourage Friendships With Children Who Are Being Taught The Same Values
As their parents, it is our duty to make sure that they are being surrounded by other children that will not draw them away from God, but instead, will encourage them to draw nearer to Him. Being a Christian, and standing out from the rest of the world is hard, even as an adult, but for children, it can be even harder. Their desire to be like their friends, in every way, can be destructive for their faith, if the actions and attitudes that they are mimicking are not those of God. You need to help your child to choose the right kinds of friends. I’m not saying to tell your child to shun the children who have different beliefs, we need to teach them to be kind to all people. I mean, we need to teach them that their close friendships, the ones that they will spend real quality time with should only be those that are followers of Christ. The influences of this world are very strong, and for a child it can be too much for them to always know what is of God, and what is not. We need to be their guide, and show them which way to choose.
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?
– 2 Corinthians 6:14
Monitor What They Watch, Hear, And Read.
This is another really important thing we need to remember. What our children watch on TV, listen to on the radio, or from the people around them, and what they read, will influence the way that they think. Children tend to copy. They will do what they see their best friend doing, they will repeat the words that their favourite cartoon character says, and they will develop the attitudes that surround them. We need to protect their vulnerable hearts and minds from the darkness that will continuously try to influence them. Many children’s shows may seem harmless, but if we look closer, we can see that many have hidden messages that are not in line with the Word of God. As their parents, we must pray for discernment. We must ask The Lord to show us exactly what we can expose our children to, and what we cannot. Let’s not become tolerant to the darkness, let’s stand on guard for our children, by protecting their hearts and their minds from anything that may try to corrupt.
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
– Proverbs 4:23
Play Praise & Worship Music In The House & Car
Praise & worship are very important actions that we need to teach our children. Once they learn this, and begin to use it in their lives, they will be able to reap all of these wonderful benefits:
– Drawing closer to The Lord
– Understanding who He is
– Being able to use it to share His love with others
– Receiving His anointing
– Being able to stand boldly against the enemy.
There are just so many benefits that come from praise & worship, it would be crazy not to teach, and encourage it in our children. If we make this the kind of music that they hear, it will quickly become the music that their hearts are drawn to.
I only play Christian music in our house, but I used to play country music in the car, and my daughters quickly learned the words. It wasn’t until I heard one of them sing “Tequila makes her clothes fall off” that I knew I HAD to make a change. Once I started to play songs about Jesus, instead, those became the songs and the words that my daughters would remember and repeat.
O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.
– Psalms 95:1
Give Them Opportunities To Serve God, By Helping Others
They will only learn how to have a servant’s heart if we give them the opportunity to practice it. We need to teach them that being a Christian does not just mean believing it, and saying it, but also by living it. Jesus was the ultimate example of having a servant’s heart. We need to teach them how He lived, and how He used His time to serve those that were in need. If your children are old enough, take them to a soup kitchen to serve the homeless. Go to a senior’s home, and brighten their day with songs about The Lord. If you know someone who is sick, or even just going through hard times, prepare a meal with your child, and deliver it to that person, together. You can even start with something simpler like teaching them to serve their siblings. Teach your children the joy that will fill them when they choose to look past their own needs, and focus on those around them. There is too much selfishness in this world, teach your child to bless those in need.
My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
– 1 John 3:18
Bring Them To Church
We need to teach our children the importance of being in the presence of The Lord, with our brothers and sisters. Trying times will come, and the world is just getting darker, this is why it is so important for us to surround ourselves with other Christians. Our children need to know that even in the midst of all the chaos in the world, church can be a refuge for them. Having a church family is SO important. Having people that we trust, that our children can trust, will give them the courage, and the strength to stand out when the rest of the world is telling them to blend in. When we choose to only go to church when the mood strikes, it teaches our children that church is not a priority. Don’t let that be so. Make it clear to them that church is always a priority, and skipping it just because we don’t feel like it, or because it is inconvenient is not an option.
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
– Hebrews 10:25
Let Them See You Walk In Bold Faith, By Spreading The Gospel
Our children need to see us stepping out in faith, and sharing the Gospel of Christ. They need to see us overcoming our fear of what others will think, and boldly speak about who Jesus is, and what He has done in our lives. If they never see us witness to others, what will make them think that they should? Our children need to observe the amazing transformation that happens when a person chooses to give up the things of the world, and follow Jesus. They need to see how amazing it is when The Lord uses us to speak the truth to another person. When we share all of the wonderful things that The Lord has done in our lives, how could we not become filled with joy and gratitude? Let’s share that with our children, let’s teach them what an amazing responsibility we have to let others know about Jesus. Remind them of what a wonderful best friend He is to them, and wouldn’t they want other people to befriend Him too?
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
– Mark 16:15
Encourage The Gifts That The Lord Has Given Them
The Lord has given all of us special gifts and talents, our children included. He gives us these gifts, not so that we can keep them to ourselves, or to use them for our own agendas, but so that we can use them to bring all of the glory to Him. The Lord wants to use your children to build His Kingdom, and to share the hope of Christ with others. He has given them each special gifts that will enable them to do His good work. It is our duty as parents to encourage that gift, to grow it, and to build it. We need to give them opportunities in which they can use their gifts, and we need to help them to seek The Lord in how He wants them to use it. We also need to help them to find the courage that they need to let go of their fears and doubts, and to walk boldly in the will of The Lord.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
– Ephesians 2:10
I fully, 100% believe that every single child of God was created for a purpose. Each one of us has a story already written for our life. Before you even had the idea to have a child, The Lord had thought up the one that He was going to give you. He knew how they would look, their strengths and weaknesses, the wonderful things that they would do in His name, and the people that they would touch through His Spirit. The Lord has entrusted you with them, and it’s your job to encourage your child to fulfill His will for their life. It is a big responsibility, but oh what a wonderful one.
So always remember how very important it is for us to make sure that we are using our position as their parents to build them up in the ways of The Lord. Teaching our children to be successful according to the standards of the world is not what will grow them to be strong men and women of God. We need to teach them to stand out from the world.. to be the light in the midst of the darkness. We cannot protect them from everything, but we can do our part by diligently teaching and encouraging them to follow after Jesus, and to not let the world sway them into thinking that there is any other way, except Jesus. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).
It is our duty to do all that we can to not only teach them that in our words, but in our actions as well. We need to be an example to them of what it means to let our light shine, to stand up for Jesus, when the whole world is calling us a fool.
While they are still young it is our job to protect them, and to make sure that we do not allow the enemy to find his way into their hearts, and their minds.
The Lord has big plans for our children’s lives.. let’s not fail Him. Let’s always make Jesus the center of our homes, our marriage, and our parenting. Being a parent is a such a huge a blessing! Yes, there will be trying times when we choose to raise our children in the ways of Christ, while being bombarded with so much darkness. The enemy will always try to discourage you, to deceive you into believing that sticking to the values of Jesus is really not that important, and to convince you to give up. But through all of those hard times, through all of those moments where you think you just can’t keep pushing on, remember the beautiful reward that you will receive; seeing your son or daughter grow up to serve The Lord God with all of their heart, with all of their soul, and with all of their mind. No, it’s not always going to be easy, but it will all be worth it when we stand before our Lord, and He says
“Well done good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).
In what ways do you encourage your children to follow after Christ?
Let me know in the comments!
Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
– 1 Timothy 4:12