There is a lot of stuff written about how to raise kids into adults.
It seems everywhere you look there is someone writing their approach to raising young people, and if you look hard enough, you could find someone who agrees with the way you think.
This is all very interesting for me as I’m just starting my journey in raising small children, but I also work closely as Youth Pastor with parents who are dealing with high school age kids.
It is pretty clear to me that everyone wants to see our young people grow up and know Jesus, but we all know that it is quite a tricky thing. There is no silver bullet, no magic porridge and no super formula to make this happen. Some young people grow up in a Christian home and walk away, some grow up for 15 years, finally hear the good news of Jesus and stick.
The other day as I was reading ‘Shepherding a Child’s Heart ’ by Ted Tripp, I came across a section which explored aspects of raising children in light of one of the biggest questions about life:
Q. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.
(Taking from Westminster Shorter Catechism)
Now, I do not know how familiar you are with the catechism but it does give good answers to tricky questions. But as Christians when we think about what our life should be about, you can’t argue with the simple answer given.
Tripp goes on to add:
‘ If you teach your child to use their abilities, aptitudes, talents and intelligence to makes their lives better, without reference to God, you turn them away from God’.
Now that is pretty blunt but if we think about the chief end of our children, we often get caught up in lots of different things and forget that they always need to have a reference to God, otherwise we are teaching them that God doesn’t matter in every situation.
Here are some examples of general statements.
If we teach our kids that prioritising sport over church is ok, then their view of their chief end becomes about sport.
If we teach our kids that staying home and doing homework over coming to church is normal, then their view of their chief end becomes about hard work.
If we teach our kids that going to church once a month is ok, then their view of their chief end becomes about anything other than the community of believers.
‘In terms of Godward orientation, we are training them in the idolatry of materialism. In fact, we even feed the idols. Years spent denying the importance of a deep conviction of spiritual truth will not develop into godly piety during adolescence or early adulthood.’
So what do we do with all of this?
For me, the path daunts me that lies ahead as a parent, for some of you, you may think it is too late or that you have missed the boat on this one. But we know that our God is sovereign and he works before us, after us and in spite of us.
So here is what I am going to try to do.
1. Start with Prayer.
Every night I am trying to pray with my kids (even if they do not want to pray with me).
Every night I am praying for my kids (more for the fact that If their salvation came from me they would be stuffed).
Pray for our ministries. Pray for our ministry leaders. Pray for your kids leader.
2. It takes a village but it starts with you.
Our youth and kids ministries are based on modelling what it means to be a Christian. But for parents, we need to model it first. We need to model reading the bible and praying. We need to model being faithful in church attendance. We need to model singing, praying and going to Growth Group. We need to model spending time after church with our church family and we need to model serving – Mum and Dad serving at church.
3. Put your kids in good places
As our kids learn about what it means to be a Christian, the more we can put them in good places (Kids Church, Friday Kids, Youth Connect and Youth Growth Group). We don’t do these ministries at church “just because”… in fact, I can think of lots of places I could be on a Friday Night. We actually put these on because it is a safe place where young people can spend time in the bible, in community, while inviting their non-Christian friends with the additional extra aspect of serving. Our church building, should feel like home to our young people.
4. Believe God is in control.
In the end, God is in control and salvation comes from Him (thank goodness). That should be encouragement for us but as guardians of not only our kids, but passing on the gospel, we too have our part to play.
So is that an answer? Not really.
Does it give us stuff to work on? Of course.
Regardless of where you are at in your parenting journey, let us all start at step one. Pray.