Being a father has changed me. It has changed me for the better, and it has challenged me personally to walk more closely to Jesus. Not only has it been a great privilege, but it has also been one of the greatest joys of my life. And like any Christian parent, I recognize that the greatest thing that I can do - my most important ministry - is raising Godly children. This is especially important to me in light of the morally, spiritually regressing culture that I find living around me. The current culture has moved “beyond” God; Christians find themselves in a post-God society where feeling, mis-lead passion, and the ideologies of the depraved reign supreme among the general public. So, the question becomes, how do I raise Godly children in such a Godless place? First, don’t worry, and don’t stress - “Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.” The enemy is still a defeated foe! That being said, there are biblical, practical ways by which Godly parents can raise Godly children. If you’re interested, I have outlined five tips for raising Godly children.
1. Teach them God’s word.
I’ll add here, teach them God’s word intentionally. In other words, make it a point every day to sit with your family, open the word of God, read it, ask questions, and challenge one another to live out what has been read. This is a biblical practice; Deuteronomy 11:19 reads, “And you shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you rise up.” This passage is saying, teach your children God’s word all of the time. When you wake up, talk about God’s word; when you’re out and about, talk about God’s word; when you’re relaxing in the house (instead of wasting time), talk about God’s word; and, before you lie down to sleep, talk about God’s word. A home that is saturated with God’s word is a home that is pleasing to God, and God will honor those who honor God.
2. Pray with your family.
This point is not limited to only praying with your children, although we’re talking about raising Godly children. Families should pray with one another, husbands should pray with wives, parents should pray with children, siblings should pray with siblings (you get it). In prayer, we are humbling ourselves, submitting to the Lordship of Christ, assuming a posture of humility, and communing with the living God. When engaged corporately, we are communing with God together. When a family prays together, they are essentially saying to God, “God you are above us, we need you, we worship you, we want to interact with you, and we want to do so as a family.” It is great to talk to God about your family, and it is even greater to talk to God with your family. When we as parents pray with our children, we are teaching them an important lesson about God, and that lesson is simply this - God is interested in communicating with people - a lesson like that will go a long way if it is given the opportunity to take root in the heart of a child.
3. Keep Godless influences and worldviews out of the home.
I’ll add additionally here, surround your family with Christ-like influences. This can be applied to anything that could potentially influence your children in any way. Keep negative talk out of the home. Keep negative people out of the home - it is amazing how much children will come to look up to their parent’s friends. Keep Godless entertainment out of the home (this cannot be stressed enough). It may sound silly to some people, but my wife and I have stopped watching movies in our home that contain any content that would be offensive to God (who is holy). I cannot do too much to control what my children hear, or what my children see outside of my home; however, I have decided that my children will not learn curse words in my home; they will not be taught that homosexuality is natural by way of a television show that is on in my home; they will not learn how to dress inappropriately in my home; and they will not learn any worldly nuances as a result of living under my roof (which is God’s place in the first place). I also admittedly find it a bit hypocritical to wait for little Johnny to go to bed before I watch the "adult" stuff on television. Children really are like a sponge, and so I warn you parents - if you’re interested in raising Godly children - keep the world and all of its influences and ideologies out of your home by all means necessary, because if you don’t, they will be more susceptible to “absorbing” the wrong things. Put yourself around people that care about your child’s eternity, and in environments that nourish their spiritual well being.
4. Don’t take “off” time from following Jesus.
This may go hand in had with number one a bit. Children need to see that mommy and daddy follow Jesus all the time - not just on Sunday, Wednesday, and for an hour or two devotional time in the morning. It is the parent’s responsibility to live out their faith all the time. In other words, let following Jesus be what defines your life. Let that be what leads all of your decisions, your actions, and your words. Show your children that Jesus Christ is the rightful king of the center of your universe (and the whole universe for that matter). Teach them to consult the word of God to make decisions, don’t react in “fleshly” ways; but rather, be led by the Spirit of God every part of every day. Show your children that Jesus Christ is worth the cost, and that the cost is your life. Remember, that your life is not your own; that, whoever “finds” his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for Jesus will find it (life). There’s no off time when it comes to following Jesus - maybe it sounds harsh, but forget about your “me” time; redeem the time, and learn to enjoy serving Jesus.
5. Remember that YOU are most responsible for teaching your children about God.
Don’t be that parent that pawns this responsibility off on other people, or on the nursery worker or Sunday school teacher at the church. You will influence your children more than anyone else. Invest in your children. Invest your time, inconvenience yourself, put sacrificial love on display every chance that you can so that your children will know that you care about them. Don’t treat your children like they’re an inconvenience to your busy life - especially considering that they are a blessing from God, and “Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” Children are the “arrows” in your quiver, they’ll fly as straight as you’ve carved them out. So, be intentional about teaching your children the way of the Lord. Take every opportunity to share Christ with them (even when they’re infants), and never make light of the responsibility that you have to raise Godly children. Teach them that there is nothing more important that following Jesus.