In Principles and Methods Part 1, we alluded to this month’s edition, where we would glean wisdom from pastors in the Providence community. As a reminder, as parents we can agree on various principles or outcomes we desire in our children (kindness, hearts of service, selflessness, etc.), while acknowledging multiple methods to accomplish these goals. Below are gold nuggets that will help us all disciple our children to develop hearts to honor the Lord.
- Train yourself to see and apply discipline as grace (Heb. 12:5-11). With young children, it should be lovingly painful, swiftly applied, and followed up with swift restoration of fellowship. It is a corrective action applied when clear lines have been crossed. Discipline is not punishment because I as a parent have been offended or embarrassed or my authority threatened. It is grace applied to train your child’s heart (Prov. 22:6). And it can only be bestowed by a heart that understands the grace it has first received.
- When the children were a little younger, it was easy to read through a vintage kid’s devotional book (Little Visits with God). There were simple stories with wonderful questions and scriptural references to get the discussion going. But as they have somewhat outgrown this method, I’ve found that speaking about theology and/or God’s role in today’s culture has been helpful. Connecting theology with what they see in life and media, I believe, is essential to train them how to think, not just what to think. My advice is to intentionally engage your kids with age-appropriate discussions that draw them back to scripture. In a world of relativistic thinking, it is the anchor that will hold them steady through their youth and beyond.
- Instruct your children in a biblical understanding of what true repentance is, and then model it for them by implementing it in your family life and marriage. It is vitally important for kids to see their parents repent to each other and to them.
- Proverbs 20:5 “Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.” God knows us exhaustively, even the number of hairs on our head (Matt. 10:30), which is why we pray to Him and cast our cares upon Him. We have to teach our children to talk to us about their faith, questions, doubts, friends, interests, struggles, and so on, and make sure we get answers for them if we don’t have them already. What are the issues among their friends? What bands and artists do they like and why? The “generation gap” is one of the great lies our culture tells—that parents are irrelevant or foolish or worse. We eliminate that gap as we are engaged with our kids: worshiping together, fellowshipping around the table, confessing sin and forgiving one another, telling stories, creating adventure, and having fun.
- Preach the gospel to your kids every day and look for multiple opportunities to share with them why they still need the gospel. Biblical obedience is only possible because of the gospel and the ability to repent is only possible because of the gospel. It is easy to slip into the mindset that God is pleased with me because I have done this or that or have not done this or that. That is exponentially more true as we seek to train our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. As we encourage them when they obey and discipline when they disobey, it is very easy for them to forget the gospel message and how the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16).