Raising Godly Children
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scriptures: Joshua 24:14-15, Proverbs 22:6
Sunday 15th May 2016
We continue our family-focused teaching with today’s message titled ‘Raising Godly Children’. This message is prepared to address everyone: parents, guardians, would-be parents and everyone who relates with children in various ways.
Our foundation scriptures taken from Joshua 24:14-15 reads: “So fear the LORD and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the LORD alone. But if you refuse to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD.”
Firstly, let’s establish this truth: Each child belongs to God. Psalm 127:3 put it this way: ‘Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from Him’ (NLT). Joshua recognized this and acknowledged this truth in our foundation scripture above. His decision to stand up for God was directly opposed to the prevailing culture of that era, a trend that is becoming increasingly similar to what we are experiencing in our nation today.
The word ‘serve’ in Hebrew is "abab". It means ‘to labour and work for another person’. Joshua’s words were a promise to God publicly to work for Him in carrying out His agenda. In the same way, we’ve been created to serve God, carrying out His agenda, purpose and intentions for our world today. As believers, everything we do should reflect this.
The primary responsibility of parents is to raise their children to be godly in order to serve their generation as God intended. Hence, our conduct as parents should encourage our children to embrace godly virtues. Since our children are the future of our society and nation, we must do all within our remit to ensure this. Satan is unrelenting in his intention to distract the younger generation away from God, so we cannot afford to be lackadaisical about this.
Proverbs 22:6 reads "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." This Scripture suggests that godly children are not a product of chance or happenstance. In other words, godly children are a result of training and discipleship. The raising of a child cannot be passed on to the state, nannies, child minders or grandparents. 70% of a child’s training originates from the home, the negligence of which could be disastrous.
An article in the Daily Telegraph reports that teenage girls, as young as 13 are being administered contraceptive injections and implants during lunchtime at school, without their parents’ knowledge. A survey conducted reports that the implants have been administered to girls between ages 13-16 about 900 times; Girls as young as 13 have been given contraceptive jabs on more than 20 occasions. A further 7,400 girls aged 15 and under have been given contraceptive injections or implants at family planning clinics. Here is the reality of the world we are living in, where children’s rights are now well known and widely documented and because of this, we cannot afford to ignore or remain silent anymore.
Turning back to Proverbs 22:6, which reads: "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it”. Let’s pick out some truths from this verse. The phrase ‘the way’ is the Hebrew word ‘Derek’, which means a road, a path, a journey, a direction, a manner or habit, a course of life and moral character. As parents, we have a responsibility to teach our children moral character and biblical values that will shape their lives in a godly manner.
Here are the words of the psalmist in Psalm 78:1-7, which reads: ‘O my people, listen to my instructions. Open your ears to what I am saying, for I will speak to you in a parable. I will teach you hidden lessons from our past— stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us. We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonders. For he issued his laws to Jacob; he gave his instructions to Israel. He commanded our ancestors to teach them to their children, so the next generation might know them— even the children not yet born— and they in turn will teach their own children. So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands’ (NLT).
The phrase ‘train up’ in Proverbs 22:6 imply three things: the trainer (parent) must have been trained, the parents must be available and lastly that parents will take responsibility for the raising of their children.
Let’s discuss these three points a little bit more:
(a) Parents have been trained: As parents, we cannot afford to underestimate our walk with God. Whether we are aware or not, our lives are a template for our children. Our words must correspond with our actions. Our lives must empower our children to replicate what they see us do. This scripture presupposes that parents have been well trained and have a strong intimate relationship with God. Here is the testimony recorded of Abraham by God, relating to this issue, as recorded in Genesis 18:17-19, “Should I hide my plan from Abraham?” the Lord asked. “For Abraham will certainly become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed through him. I have singled him out so that he will direct his sons and their families to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just. Then I will do for Abraham all that I have promised” (NLT). Parenting ought to begin with parents.
(b) Availability of parents: One of the major problems confronting young people today is the issue of absent parents, especially fathers. The dearth of real role models is alarmingly high. Parents are becoming increasingly busy with various issues that the time available to nurture their children is becoming increasingly compromised. Here is a food for thought: ‘No amount of success will be able to compensate if we fail at home’. It is important that we make time for our children when they need us the most. Making time for them is important, as this communicates to them your availability to attend to them. Whenever a child is neglected intentionally or inadvertently, it communicates rejection to a child. A child who feels rejected often take solace in someone or something else. Children who grow up this way would eventually find solace in inappropriate alternatives. Here are ways to make yourself available to your children: Build a relationship with them by: (i) Being involved in what they enjoy – swimming, biking, football and various TV programmes. Attend Teacher/parent meetings. (ii) Celebrate your children: Create opportunities for them to be celebrated, validate them with your words – pray and prophesy into their future. (iii) Be approachable: Build an environment at home, where you can be approached and they feel secure.
(c) Training a child and taking responsibility: The purpose of teaching your children is to mould their character in a godly manner. In order to teach them, a goal must be established. What would you like them to become as a result of the training? Teach them God’s word: God’s position on various issues in life, and the significance of a relationship with God. In teaching your children, here 7 points to note (i) Set up an appropriate time, preferably once a week (ii) Study the word together (iii) Explain the word to them (iv)Develop action points – one at a time (v) Give them opportunity to ask questions (vi) Give them a scripture to memorize (vii) Be a model to them. Teach them godly values: Build character in your child including love, Obedience, Honesty, Integrity, respect for others and forgiveness. Discipline your children: Another form of teaching is discipline, but it must be carried out in love. Hebrews 12:6 reads: ‘For the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child” (NLT). The bible records that Adonijah, David’s son was not rebuked or disciplined once, leading to his tragic end. Here is 1 Kings 1:5-6; ‘About that time David’s son Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, began boasting, “I will make myself king.” So he provided himself with chariots and charioteers and recruited fifty men to run in front of him. 6 Now his father, King David, had never disciplined him at any time, even by asking, “Why are you doing that?” Adonijah had been born next after Absalom, and he was very handsome’ (NLT).
In conclusion, the training of our children must start with us parents, right from our relationship with God to spending time with them. Are we ready to give the necessary time, dedication and devotion it requires?
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