Raising children is not a task for the faint of heart...if it is to be taken seriously, that is. It is a heavy responsibility and requires much prayer and intentionality. Children cannot be raised appropriately in a vacuum. There must be a plan of action... a conscious decision made, as to the atmosphere, structure and worldview in which you will bring them up.
Our goal was (and is!) to raise our children into young adults who would follow Christ faithfully by walking in his ways, sharing him with others and passing on the torch of faith to their own children. We are in the midst of this plan as I write this post. We have a son who has recently married a beautiful Christian young woman who is such a blessing to us. They are very involved in their local church and are living for the Lord. We have a teenage son who is about to graduate from high school and who loves the Lord and uses his gifts and talents to serve him. And...we have a daughter who is just entering the teenage years and is watching our every move to see if we are genuine in our faith.
How can we raise our children into adults who will love and honor God with their lives and build their own families on the solid rock of Jesus Christ? I believe there are several key elements involved:
1) Pray for your children...daily! Prayer is powerful, effective and life-changing. Our children need that supernatural protection and we need wisdom...through prayer God will provide these things. ( James 5:16b , James 1:5 )
2) Become engaged in a local Bible-believing, gospel-preaching, people-loving, scripture-driven, church. The Bible says we are not to "forsake the assembling of ourselves together" as a body of believers. In other words, go to church, take your children, get involved in Sunday school or Bible study. Make sure your children are an active part of the church youth group. Does this guarantee success? Of course not! But, you will have a greater chance of success ( raising a Christ-honoring kid) if your child develops friendships among other Christian teens whose families have the same goals and values and if he/she has a youth leader who takes an interest in them and becomes a godly mentor to them. Begin early taking your children to church activities and programs. They will develop a real love for the family of God that will continue through life. As Christians, church life should be a huge part of our life.
3) Do not be a hypocrite! Live out your faith at home. Make your home a place where kindness, grace, love and forgiveness are practiced. Our children are always watching us as we try to teach them Christ-like behavior. They want to know if we really believe it. Children will not grow up and be the way you told them to be...they will mimic the way you actually lived!
4) Be sure to make your home a place of intentional spiritual training. Read the Bible as a family. Memorize scripture together. Pray for each other. As your children get older, discuss current events in the light of scripture. Help them to see life's issues and challenges from a biblical perspective. ( Deuteronomy 4:9 and 6:5-9 )
5) Prayerfully consider the educational choices you will make for your children and try not to default to the easiest or closest choice. Your children will come out of their school experience with a particular worldview, be it a Christian or a secular one. You have a choice as to who will have an influence over your child for 150 hours a month for 13 years. I suggest you study up on the development of a young person's worldview as related to modern education and of course, look intently over the curriculum that is being taught to your child. Look for contra-biblical ideas and values that are woven throughout the educational program. Understand what an important decision this is, pray about it, and follow God's leading.
Hopefully, this post gives you a few helpful tools to use as you try to raise your children to love and honor God and to further his kingdom in the world. I hope it was helpful.