For some time now, I have wanted to have an older teen or college student write their view of Christian parenting to share with you. It gives a lot of insight to understand how Christian homes actually touch the thought processes of the children raised in them.
Sunday, one of the teens in our congregation gave a very short sermon that had every adult in the room ready to stand up and cheer. He captured the heart of this ministry better than I ever could. Ben G. (age 17) agreed to let me publish his talk as written. It’s worth every second of your time.
“Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” This is God’s pattern for parenting. As God’s people, we are called to be unique. That calling is sometimes found later on in life through study and worship, but most of us find that calling in our homes as children.
We are taught to be different. We are taught to be distinct. We are taught to be separate from the world…not to live as the rest of the world lives. We are taught to live in light, not darkness…in wisdom, not foolishness. We are taught to walk in the Spirit, not the flesh. We are taught we are unique because we have the knowledge of God – we have the Word of God – we have the Spirit of God, and God has called us to purposeful lives.
We are taught not to conduct ourselves the way the world does. We have a completely different plan and pattern. In Leviticus when God established the standard of behavior for Israel, He pointed out this uniqueness. “You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices. You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. I am the Lord your God.” (18:3-4)
This is the role of parents…to teach their children that God’s people are different. You don’t go the way the world does. You don’t conduct your lives or relationships the way the world does. And God has maintained this desire for His people through all time.
We are separate. The standards and commandments by which we conduct our lives before the world are unique. We are separate. We are to follow principles which are not from human wisdom.
We are not to give in to the pressure of the world. We are not to listen to the world’s definitions of right and wrong or good and bad. We are to turn to the Word of God. We are to live to His high standards, no matter the consequences. We are to live distinctly.
And this, God’s message, has not and will not change. This message applies in the same way today that it has throughout history, the message that we are to “do it His way”. This message…to belong to God…to be separate from the world…is one that parents are called to teach their children.
The first model a child sees of God…of eternity…comes from his parents. It comes from the discipline provided to a child…discipline that is fair and firm and consistent. It comes from supervision…from parents guiding, correcting and instructing their children along the way.
It comes from parents teaching their children, so that they may lead better lives. This is the whole goal for parents really: to guide their children so that they have a stronger and deeper faith than they did. And finally, it comes from time spent together.
The opposite of this model is to spoil a child…give him everything he wants…to not correct wrong behavior…to maintain his dependency on you by making all his decisions…to bail him out of trouble instead of having him learn about consequences…to set unrealistic expectations of him…or to neglect or abuse him.
Christian parenting is one of the most important aspects of Christians’ lives, as it brings new people to Christ. Even if these new people literally belong to you, they still need to be brought to know and love Christ. Let me tell you a very scary statistic (Fuller Institute). It has been said that 4 out of every 5 young people leave the church when they go off to college. While I believe that this is mainly a cultural problem, I think that some of the blame has to lie with the parents.
If children only receive spiritual teaching and guidance at the church, it’s very likely for them to become part of that statistic. They need to receive the same level of teaching and guidance at home as they do at the church in order to establish a long, deep rooted relationship with Christ.
Finally, let me close by telling you what my parents did for me. My parents have instructed me throughout my entire life. Because of this, I can say that there has never really been a day when I didn’t know who Christ was. There was never a day when I didn’t know that I was to be separate from the world (I knew it, that doesn’t mean I always did it). And because of this, I was baptized on my 13th birthday.
So, this is my final encouragement to all parents and future parents. Teach and train your children, so that they know to be separate from the world. So that they know they are to love, learn and live through and in Christ.