Life is full of choices and the older your children get, the more freedom they will have to make choices independently. Unless they have been taught how to make godly decisions, they may base their choices on their emotions, the pressure from friends or a number of other reasons that don’t necessarily factor in what God wants them to do.
As Christians, we should attempt to make all of our decisions based on the commands and principles of God. God may not care if we wear a blue shirt or a green one, but your kids will make a lot of decisions where God definitely has a preference regarding which option He wants them to choose.
So how can you prepare your kids to make godly decisions – especially since we know making sinful choices often leads to negative consequences that can last a lifetime? There are many things you can do, but here are some of our favorites.
- Discussing and acting out scenarios. Will your children be facing a tough situation soon? Have a discussion about how God would want them to handle the situation. If they are nervous about what they will say or do, encourage them to practice with you playing the role of the other person. Feeling confident in their decision and how they will tell those who may not agree, can make it easier for them to follow through with those godly decisions that are counter cultural.
- Encouraging pre-decisions. It is much easier to say “no” to peer pressure if you have already decided that will be your response. Most children and teens can’t process a complex situation and what God might want them to do quickly enough to make consistently good choices. If they have already decided they will not do something (or will do something good), it can be easier to withstand pressure and stick with the godly choice.
- Studying scripture and its real life applications as a family. No matter how wonderful your congregation may be, they will not be able to teach your children everything in the Bible and how to apply it to their lives. Studying scripture as a family – making sure to discuss how God wants us to apply each passage to our daily lives – gives your children a mental tool box full of God’s wisdom, principles and commands. They can use those tools to analyze their choices and come to a decision that will please God.
- Teaching them a godly decision making model. Children can benefit for being taught a model to use when they are faced with a difficult choice. We have a free printable resource that walks them through the steps. (Also available in Spanish and Ukrainian.)
- Modeling and explaining godly decision making. Did you and your spouse decide to turn down a promotion at work because it meant too much time away from your family or some other godly reason? Your kids need to see how you make those tough decisions and how you factored God’s principles and commands into your choice. Of course, this should be done in age appropriate ways, but if your kids never see the process modeled, how are they going to do it themselves?
- Discussing long term thinking and potential long term consequences. One of the challenges young people often face in decision making is thinking beyond the moment. They can see cheating on the test may give them a better grade, but fail to factor in what will happen if they get caught. Should young people obey God because they love Him rather than from fear of negative consequences? That’s the eventual goal, but it often starts with understanding God’s wisdom in guiding you to live in such a way that it minimizes unnecessary negative consequences.
Don’t leave your children unprepared to make godly decisions. Spend plenty of time teaching them how to make decisions that will be pleasing to God.