Raising children is one of the greatest experiences and exhausting experiences all at the same time. It is something that can get discouraging at times, but Scripture gives us some direction on raising children and it teaches us to go after their heart. We tend to chase after obedience, moralism, comfort, distraction, performance, but Scripture teaches us to connect with their heart and Ephesians 6 gives us 3 simple principles to connect with their heart:
Pray For Your Children: Pray with your children and pray for your children. I love to hear my children pray. Sometimes their prayers are really simple and they just say, “Dear Jesus, thank you for today, thank you for taking care of me. Amen.” We want our children to learn to pray and they learn to pray by watching their parents. Prayer is caught not taught and they need to see mommy and daddy praying.
Praying over dinner, praying through conflict, praying through disobedience, praying in spiritual devotion, and there will be times when Tucker will walk in my study while I am praying and I will just pull him close to me and start praying out loud with my arm around him. Sometimes he sticks around, sometimes he just hugs me and leaves, but we want our children to see and hear us praying. We want them to see that we are not the ones that are keeping this family together and that we are desperately dependent upon Jesus.
Some of us have grown up in a home where these things were only done by the mother and that is great, but they need to see the dads doing this as well. They need to see dad reading the Bible, praying, and asking forgiveness. Sometimes we will push back and think we should wait till a certain age or try to keep them a clean slate. Which sounds noble, but reality is that our children are being preached at every day through television, movies, songs, friends, and that doesn’t make those things bad, but we want to make sure we are exposing them to prayer as often as possible.
Discipline Your Children:
I know everyone has different views on discipline, but keep in mind that we are trying to capture their heart. It doesn’t mean we looking for opportunities to beat them, or that we given them everything they want. We are there to bring discipline and go after their heart like Jesus goes after ours.
One of the biggest differences is when the father’s take an active lead in discipline. Our families need the father’s to be completely involved in the teaching, discipline, prayer, and raising of the children. In our sin and selfishness we will push back. We will think things like, “I have been at work all day, I am tired, I want to be their friend.” But when you have kids you don’t get to clock out and we need to come home ready to engage.
I have a habit that as soon as I turn into my neighborhood I start getting off the phone, turning off the music, and mentally preparing to engage my kids. Connect with my wife and connect with the kids and we typically just start wrestling for half an hour. We eat dinner, Tucker throws food on the floor, Kennedy chews each bite of food for 10 minutes and it’s like training wild animals, but you got to be all in. After dinner we read books, start putting them to bed because at 5:30am it all starts over and you do it again. Father’s got to be all in.
We will use discipline to teach the gospel and when our children disobey we teach them there are consequences because Scripture teaches us that sin leads to death and destruction and our children need to know there are consequences. Sometimes I will take those consequences for them and our children will ask why. I tell them that sometimes daddy will take the consequences for them because I love them, but I can’t do it all the time but there is one who will and does and it is Jesus. In the midst of their discipline there is an opportunity to talk about their heart and point them to Jesus who gives them a new heart.
Teach Your Children:
Look for every opportunity to teach. It doesn’t need to be a 30-minute lecture and it needs to be fun. We can teach them about cooking, the plants in the yard, money and paying bills, about marriage, Scripture and make it fun. Do voices for characters, do the God voice, and ask them questions and involve them in the process, and have fun. And every chance you get teach them about Jesus.
When we were in Florida Kennedy and I were walking along the beach and she was playing in the water and searching for seashells and I called her to me, bent down in the sand, and picked a handful of sand, and I asked her, “Do you know who made all this sand?” Jesus. That’s right. “Do you know how He made it?” She said, “He just spoke “sand” and there was sand everywhere. I said that’s right. I said did you know that He cares about us so much that He knows every little piece of sand on every beach in the whole world? She said, “Yeah, mommy talked about this yesterday.” We need to take every opportunity to teach our children.
Our first thought is that someone else should teach our children. The school should do it, the church should do it, the youth pastor should do it…no, they should compliment what you are teaching your children; but as parents we should be the ones who leading the charge and teaching our children and going after their heart.
In the end, go after your children’s heart. God didn’t just say do what I say, do it a certain way, and don’t ask questions. He went after our heart. He let us know He loves us, knows what is best for us, and He disciplines and teaches us so that we trust Him. We need to do that with our children and let them know we love them, we know what is best for them, and discipline and teach them and point them to Jesus who gives them a new heart.