If our goal as parents is to raise obedient disciples of Jesus Christ, then where does that process begin. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says, “A student is not above his teacher…” (10:24). If this is the case, then the logical starting place for instruction on parenting is with our own walk of discipleship with Christ. Our children will become who we are and what we model.
How can we as parents raise obedient disciples if we, ourselves are not obedient? How can we teach our children to pray about everything, if we struggle with a daily prayer life? How will we teach our children to pray for kingdom causes when all we ever pray for are worldly issues like our daily bread? How will our children learn to serve others, if we never serve? How will our children know that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God on matters of faith and life, if we never discuss it as a family or read it with our children or refuse to submit to its directions? I think you are starting to get the picture.
The first step in raising godly children is in allowing God to put our own life in order. Here are my suggestions:
- Begin reading the Bible as a family each and every day. Pick a time: a meal, as part of bedtime routine or some other time when the whole family is always, or almost always present. Read a section of Scripture, one of the great stories and talk about it. Ask you children where they see Jesus or God or salvation in the story and then relate that back to the redemption story of Christ. There are numerous great children’s bibles which pick these great stories, or you could just begin reading your own Bible in Genesis and the first 20 chapters of Exodus. There are a wealth of stories in these 70 chapters to stir up a family’s imagination.
- Start praying as a family. Spend more time than just the cursory pre-meal “Thank you God for this meal. Amen.” Take some time each day and ask you children to both thank God for something and to pray for someone else. We do it at bedtime, but the time is irrelevant, what counts is that we as parents start to develop these habits, and our children, after a few short days will think this is the way it is always suppose to be. I am amazed that my kids never fail to remind me, when I forget to pray. They help me stay regular in my walk with God.
- Take time alone to read and pray and reflect on your own life. Allow it to be conformed to Christ. Ask yourself tough questions about what you are modeling in the way of service, generosity, stewardship, forgiveness, thankfulness… Then if there is room to grow, read the Scriptures and find out where they are calling forth change. But most importantly, after you know what the Bible ways, do it. Be obedient and tell your kids about what you are learning, and how you are changing so that they see and hear obedience being practiced.
These are 3 simple steps that every parent can engage that will change their parenting eternally, and will set a strong foundation for training up children who are to become disciples of Jesus, too. It begins in setting our priorities correctly, if we want our children to grow up with godly priorities. May God bless you on your walk.