This week in our study, we’ll touch on the heart of our roles as mothers: to disciple our children. The verse at the first of the chapter, serving as inspiration for this aspect of our role is from Proverbs 4:7, “The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; and with all your acquiring, get understanding.”
I don’t just want my kids to be moral. I don’t just want them to know all of the Biblical rules for behavior. I don’t just want them to make it through my home with good grades, no drug addiction, and no premarital sex.
I want them to leave my him with a hunger and passion to know God personally and to be used by him to accomplish great things for his kingdom. I want them to personally hear God’s voice and have his Spirit’s gentle touch and impression on their hearts as they read the Scriptures and struggle with the issues of their lives.
That’s what God wants for our children as well. Whatever else we give our children as they grow, he wants us to pass along an eternal vision and purpose as well as a passion for Christ. If we are wise, we will keep this goal ever before us–to keep us focused on what really matters, on the ultimate purpose of our activity as parents.
It is so easy to get caught up in the practical tasks of life to the point of lacking an eternal perspective. I am certainly guilty of this and really have to make an effort to stay engaged, to keep a flowing heart for Jesus throughout my days. Not only that, but it’s easy to focus on external behaviors and have standards for our children that the world holds in high regard. Ms. Clarkson highlights Jeremiah 9:23-24 with the purpose of reminding us to have a Biblical view of what’s important.
The point is made that while having intellectual, financially responsible, strong leaders, and good-mannered children are certainly goals we can have for our children, they should be peripheral goals.
When Jesus lived on this earth, he spent the majority of his ministry teaching his disciples, whom he would entrust the task of reaching the whole world with the gospel. As I have studied this life, I have found a plan for my own parenting. Like him, I have a goal to love and train my children so they will be equipped to reach the world and their families and friends with the message of Christ after I am gone. This is what they were born to do–to truly love God and glorify him and follow him. Thus my goals for parenting must reflect my purpose. Several simple aspects of Jesus’ life with his disciples have given me a simple plan for my own home.
In order to accomplish these goals, we must spend time with our children. I really appreciate the several pages spent discussing what it means to spend time with our children.
We are on the go for God. We are busy doing many activities and going to this meeting and that seminar. Yet all of the going in the world will not make us or our children spiritually deep or alive. It is only by coming to the living God and developing intimacy with him that we will really draw near in our hearts to Christ.
Well said. I’m not sure of your background with the local church you are involved in, but I am thankful for the fact that we have ONE meeting a week at ours. And every other week, small groups gather, allowing time for deep relationships and fellowship among believers. This is a healthy set-up which respects the fact that the family is the primary means through which God intends to work. We are able to protect and preserve our marriage, our relationship with our children, all the while, reaching out to believers and non-believers as a family. This way, our children are able to learn by modeling as to what it looks like to live as disciples of Christ.
As I walk honestly before God, with my children watching, they will learn how to have a real relationship with him as well. As they see me apologize to them and pray in front of them to ask for God’s forgiveness in my own life, my children will learn that God is a God of grace who forgives me and guides me.
Sally moves on to talk about the necessity of intentional instruction in the lives of our children. She gives a myriad of ideas on how to approach teaching the Bible to our children. I think perhaps what I appreciated most is that she did not seek to communicate that there is one right way for every family to follow. The point is that every parent should be teaching the Bible to their children, period.
Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old, he will not depart from it.
I appreciated Ms. Clarkson’s differentiation between instruction and training:
Training is the practical application of a learned truth to actual life. Training involves advising our children on the appropriate application of Scripture and giving them opportunities to act out what they are learning. It also means taking the initiative with our children to correct their immature or sinful behavior and require them to do what is right…it is not enough to know the truth; we must learn to walk in the truth.
I am neck-deep in the training process with my two children. By God’s grace, at nearly three years old, we are already beginning to see fruit from training that began when Tara was around Brant’s age. It is true that it demands much of my time, but keeping an eternal perspective helps keep me anchored. And how sweet it is to be able to enjoy my children instead of being burdened by them!
The last topic of discussion from this chapter dealt with guarding our children’s influences. The two verses guiding this part of the conversation are from Proverbs 13:20 and 1 Corinthians 15:33. It has been demonstrated to me that at the youngest of ages, our children are highly influenced by peers, people in authority, and by things seen and heard. It is extremely important that we, who are their God-given authority, discern and guard our children from influences that will threaten their future growth in Christ. We need to protect them, preserve their purity and give opportunity for them to grow strong in the Truth of the Bible, unscathed by the corruption of the world.
Reality is that one day they will be out in the world, out from under our protection. So, our goal (my husband and mine) is to be the ones who teach them what is true. For example, pornography is real. However, we don’t believe they need to be “exposed” to it (see it) to believe it exists. However, we believe that to ignore it would be foolish. So, with discernment, our children will understand that it is real, what it is, and why it is evil. If and when they are exposed to it, they will be able to respond, Lord willing, in a manner that is truth. “This is sexual immorality and 1 Corinthians 6:18 says to flee from it.” Instead of being tempted by it and dabbling in it, and potentially becoming ensnared by it. The latter happens when truth about the situation is not known. The enemy, the liar, comes and tempts with lies and if we don’t know the truth, we will believe them and act on them.
As our children gradually move out from under the protective umbrella of our home, I am confident they will have the strength they need, not only to confront and resist the elements of the outside world that could lead their hearts astray, but to reach out in love and to win other hearts for Christ.
Come back tomorrow for chapter 6!