“This little light of mine. I’m gonna let it shine. This little light of mine. I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.”
While the world will tell you a parent’s job is to ensure the happiness of their children, God charges us to answer a higher calling than fulfilling our children’s every desire. Nothing should take precedent over our responsibility to equip our children for eternal purposes. It is the single most important endeavor we have as parents. “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6). And although salvation can only come from God, we are held accountable for how we raise them.
When I was younger, kids picked on me for bringing my Bible to school. I specifically remember a boy ask me: “does that Bible teach you how to be cool?” But unfortunately, Christianity is not a popular concept in today’s culture. Our children will face opposition. Just as Jesus was rejected, so we shall encounter our own antagonists. But how we prepare our children will determine their response to the world and to the call on their life.
7 Ways to Raise Children of the Light:
- Put Focus on God, not Them. As parents, it comes natural to us to praise our children when they do something good- they got an “A” on their test, they scored the winning home run, or they simply shared their toys with their younger sibling. Applauding our children when they do these things is perfectly fine, as it encourages more positive behavior. But if we fail to ever acknowledge God in these moments, we also encourage our children to believe their victories and accomplishments are result of their own merits. And it will not hurt their self-esteem to give credit to God, because their is no greater assurance than our identity in Christ. After gymnastics last week, Joanna ran up to me and said “Mommy! Did you see my round off?” I quickly responded with affirmation: “Of course! You did such a good job!” But then it occurred to me that I had an opportunity to tell my daughter how God plays a pretty vital role as well. So I followed by saying “You know, JoJo, God sure has blessed you with a beautiful talent. We should always be thankful for the gifts He gives us and we should use them for His glory.” I have found in every situation for any given circumstance, we have an opportunity to point our children to Jesus. And within a dark world, our children need to fix their eyes on Jesus.
- Train Them to See Souls, not Just People. It is far too easy to become frustrated and discouraged with others. We have to diligently remind our children of who they are- their citizenship is in heaven and we are apart of the Kingdom agenda. When they encounter people who are difficult to get along with or oppose their views, help them to never forget that these people have a soul and need Jesus just as much as everyone else. Human nature is flawed and depraved. And when our children are quick to point out the imperfections of others, may we remind them “for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23). We serve a God who loves us despite our wretchedness. And He desires for us to win souls. But in order to win souls, we have to see souls, not people.
- Teach the Truths of the Gospel. As much as we are called to love others, we must always teach our children that perfect love cannot exist apart from truth. The world will gladly indoctrinate our children to tolerate the deceitful lies our culture has adopted by which go completely against the Word of God. But scripture commands that while we are to love one another, we are not called to passively tolerate sin. But in order for our children to know how to decipher these lies of the world, they must be filled with the truth of the Word of God. Read the Bible to your children, help them memorize scripture, and once they are old enough to read, encourage them to read during Bible study. “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.” (Deuteronomy 11:18).
- Teach Them to Pray. My son, Jesse, was afraid to go to bed one night. He said he didn’t want to have a bad dream. Of course, my response was to pray and assure him he would be safe. I prayed the same prayer my mom spoke over me when I would rest my head on the pillow, anxiously anticipating the dark, lonely room: “For God does not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7). I wanted to pray and offer comfort for him. But I am not the almighty source of comfort as my kids would believe I am. So I encouraged him when he felt scared, to pray to Jesus and ask to make him strong. When our children come to us with their struggles, hurt, worries and various situations, let’s not just pray for them, but teach them how to pray. This can simply begin with prayers spoken over meals or before bedtime. But continue to go a step further and take initiative to encourage their prayer throughout the day. Remind them that God is always listening and wants to hear from them, so they can begin to develop a prayer life and personal relationship with our heavenly Father. And like the dark room my son feared, our children will have to stand in a dark world, where they will call to the Lord for wisdom and strength.
- Teach Them to Have a Servant’s Heart. When I consider examples of service, there is none better than our Redeemer. He exemplified a servant heart when he washed the disciple’s feet and ultimately when He laid down His life for the atonement of our sins. Encourage your children to put others before themselves and to always have a thankful and humble heart that desires to share with others. The most practical way we as parents can emphasize this is to discourage materialism. Materialism is extremely self- indulging and self- focusing. Children have a natural tendency to focus on their wants before others. Our emphasis or lack thereof for material things demonstrates how much we look to satisfy our wants and it is very hard to have a servant heart when we are too involved in the desires of our flesh. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45). This is a definite difference in Christ and Christians that separates us from the world- while the world strives to compete to be the best, we humbly strive to serve.
- Instill Obedience. Obedience has been tested since the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden. Disobedience brought sin into the world and is the bottom line for all accounts of sin- disobedience to God and His Word. As parents, our discipline of our children should be taken very seriously. Our children’s obedience to us will be directly correlated to their obedience to God. We must correct swiftly and consistently. “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” (Proverbs 13:24). In a world full of temptations and selfish desires, we must be intentional with our discipline so our children understand the importance of obedience and do not give in to their temptations. If we truly want what is best for our children, we will admonish them to be obedient, for God’s Word says “blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him.” (Psalm 128:1). And in a world that proclaims we can do whatever makes us happy, our children must learn to obey as unto the Lord.
- Encourage Them to Share Their Faith. As I have personally experienced, sharing our faith does not guarantee us popularity with others. And in the midst of a hostile world, we must prepare our children to face rejection and persecution. But that does not remove the responsibility to share Jesus. I was very encouraged with a conversation I had one day with Joanna. She began “Mom, I wonder if (friend’s name) knows about Jesus?” I said “well, you can ask and find out.” “She exclaimed “Yea! Because EVERYONE should know about Jesus!” She was absolutely right! As we train our children to be a light in the world, we are preparing them for the Great Commission: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (Mark 16:15).
Children are a blessing from God. But they are also a responsibility- one that charges us to teach them the ways of the Lord and how to live for Him. Thankfully, in the midst of a dark, dark world, we have a beacon of light- Jesus Christ. By His grace, we do not belong to this world. We have a different kind of passport. But while we remain on this side of eternity, we are to teach our children to be the example of Christ, live boldly for the Gospel, and be the light in the darkness. “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.” (Ephesians 5:8).
The Humble Homemaker