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Raising Godly Children - Rev. Funke Ewuosho
Parenting is one of the greatest challenges in the 21st century in view of the changes in the society, in the laws, etc, all in the name of civilization and modernisation. Children are put under severe peer pressure to be or have what they are not quite ready for. One of the activities of the anti-Christ is to intend to change times and law (Dan 7:25). Have you noticed that children grow up so quickly now? Waiting is no more a virtue; they want everything now! Yet, maturity is said to be the ability to delay gratification. The prodigal son asked his father to give the portion of goods that falls to him, he took all, left for a far country and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living (Luke 15:11-14). Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:1-3, that there will be very difficult times in the last days, because among other things, people will be disobedient to their parents and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred (eg marriage, sex etc); they will have no self control, and have no interest in what is good, they will be puffed up with pride and love pleasure rather than God. Yet the challenge is Don"t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think (Rom. 12:2 NLT). We are to be in this world but not of this world. The enemy is bombarding the minds of children from every angle with all kinds of vices- through friends; school ideologies and theories being taught, the media, literature, etc. Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon took young men in whom there was no blemish, but good looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the King"s palace and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans (Dan. 1:4). Note that the world (and satan is the god of this world) catches them young and goes for gifted and talented ones. Satan preys on precious souls.
There is a huge generation gap, yet God is a God of generations; He thinks generationally! He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob! God wants values and virtues to be passed on generationally. (Deut. 6:4-9) The future of parents lies in their children e.g. What God said to Abraham and David depended on their children walking in God"s ways (Gen. 18:19, 1 Kgs. 2:2-4). The future of every nation lies in the youths of that nation. Children don"t trust their parents. Children think that they are wiser and better than their parents. Parenting is becoming an obsolete thing. Proverbs 30:11-14 describes a generation that dishonours their parents, that is pure in its own eyes, that is proud and knows it all. God ordained the family and His plan is still that children be raised in the family structure. Even Jesus was raised in a family. He had earthly parents and siblings; the Bible says that He submitted himself to Joseph and Mary (Luke 2:51). Somebody said Raising children is more difficult than raising the dead, but thank God with Him all things are possible. We can still raise godly children in an ungodly world. and the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend (it overcame) it. (Jn. 1:5).
HOW TO RAISE GODLY CHILDREN
1. Don"t look to yourself alone. Ps. 127:1
Unless the Lord builds the house they labour in vain, who built it. Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. The arm and flesh shall fail. Not by might or by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord. God says All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children (Isaiah 54:13). It is grace that teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lust and to live soberly and righteously and godly in the present age (Titus 2:11-12). Trust that grace to teach them. (Also Ish. 44:3b, Joel 2:28, Ish. 49:25)
2. A paradigm shift. Ps. 127:3
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. See your children as gifts from God. See yourself as a steward over those gifts, who also will give account to God. It puts a sense of responsibility on you. This mentality would change a lot of things in your parenting method.
3. Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not turn from it.
Note that you don"t train them in the way you want them to go, but in the way they should go. Ephesians 2:10 says we are God"s workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Find out the way your child should go and train them in that way- it is your responsibility. And remember that each child is different from the other- different gifting and talents, different purpose, different temperament and personality, etc. Deal with them knowledgeably.
4. Teach them
Deut. 6:6-9 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk to them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you rise up (v.7). Don"t assume they know it, teach them. (Prov. 23:22; 19:27, 1:8-9, 3:1-4). Teach them what you expect from them.
5. Discipline them
Don"t be afraid to discipline your children when necessary. Prov. 29:15-17, 22:15, 13:24, 19:18. Now no chastening (i.e- discipline) seems to be joyful for the present, but painful, nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it (Heb. 12:11). Remember, Eli and Samuel did not correct or restrain their sons.
6. Model things before them
Jethro said to Moses about the children of Israel, And you shall teach them the statutes and the laws and show them the way in which they must walk and the work they must do. (Ex. 18:20). Peter charged his fellow elders to be examples to the flock entrusted to them (1 Pet. 5:3). Timothy was also to be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith and in purity, (1Tim. 4:12). Note that children don"t do just what you say, but what you do.
7. Be there for them!
Somebody said delegation without supervision is abandonment! Don"t abandon your children, don"t leave them to themselves. Commitment breeds commitment. Whatever you would require of them, make sure you have first invested into them. No deposit, no withdrawal. Jesus first loved us, before we could love Him. A lot of parents want to reap from their children what they haven"t sown into them. Invest time, money, love and yourself into your children. Bond with them when they are little. Give them good memories. Someone said A happy childhood is one of the best gifts that parents have it in their power to bestow. Another said the best thing you can give children, next to good habits, are good memories. Do things with them and for them. The family is God"s answer to the decadence in the world today. God ordained the family to provide a safety net for children.
8. Give them responsibilities
Jethro told Moses to appoint among the people able men who will judge small matters and will bear the burden with him (Ex. 18:21-23). When you have taught them, trained them and modelled things before them, invested in them, it is only appropriate for you to let them do things. You must train them to be responsible people. Let them share in family responsibilities and values. Give them those responsibilities proportional to their age and ability.
9. Listen to them
Create the forum for a two way communication. Don"t just talk, listen to them. Listen to their questions, their grievances, their woes, their pains, their confusions etc. Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath, for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. (Jas. 1:19-20). How would you know what is in them if you didn"t listen to them? How would you know if they were following you, if you didn"t listen to them? If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach and it will be given to him Jas. 1:5. Listen to and judge cases among the siblings.
10. Reward them
God rewards those who 'diligently" seek Him. God honours those who honour him. God has a reward system. David asked what shall be done to the man who killed Goliath and took the reproach from Israel? We should not only correct or discipline our children, we must reward them also! We must reward them for being good children. We must reward their efforts, even if they didn"t score the full marks. We must reward their obedience. We also could introduce incentives; something to look forward to. Note that charity must begin at home!
11. Pray for them
Jethro said to Moses, Stand before God for the people, so that you may bring the difficulties to God. (Ex. 18:19) Pray for them to be all that God wants them to be. Pray for them to overcome their challenges and all the assaults of the enemy. Pray for them to make the right decisions in life. Pray about their future. Stand before God for them; like the Syrophoenician woman whose daughter was demon-possessed; like the father of the epileptic boy, etc.
12. Guide them
Guide them in making decisions, especially the very important decisions like the course to study; the universities or colleges; who to marry, etc. Don"t abandon them. Note that the older children grow, the more they need their parents, as they are confronted with major life-defining decisions. I believe you don"t have to lose your children to the devil or the world. You can still win with your children!