Previously published on Truth & Liberty Coalition’s Blog June 1, 2021
Dedicate your children to God and point them in the way that they should go, and the values they’ve learned from you will be with them for life. – Proverbs 22:6 (TPT)
Parents have a wonderful, God-given purpose to lovingly help their children learn about God and experience Him in a personal way. It’s an active role that begins at conception by constructing a spiritual hedge of protection and blessing that develops in age-appropriate ways. Children learn by instruction and modeled behavior that forms their worldview and their life experience.
Parents have some competition in this purpose. The Bible details the educational formation of opinions that challenge Godly thinking as: demonic, worldly, and personal. As parents, God has given us the responsibility of instructing our children which takes time and intentionality. It entails being actively interested in who and/or what is influencing our children when we are not with them. Outside influences can include your children’s education, friendships, coaches, media, entertainment, and more.
Culture Will Not Offer Godly Guidance
When I was growing up, my parents knew many of my teachers and our curriculum was primarily based on godly values and principles. The most popular television shows were programs like The Brady Bunch, and the extent of video games was Pong. That is not the case today. Instead, all these areas and more are being used by the enemy to disciple our children and push society away from God.
Merriam-Webster defines the word “disciple” as: one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another. In the Greek, the definition is similar and carries the idea of a pupil or one who is learning. Discipleship is a foundational building process for learning, and we are called to teach and train our children to become learners of Jesus Christ. It is a responsibility that comes with an anointing for success.
How do we accomplish this lifelong task? We can use the examples provided for us in the Word. The Apostle Paul, a spiritual father, described a multifaceted process to his spiritual children. He said in Philippians 4:9, “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” In the Greek language, the word “learn” means instruction and “heard” is a verb describing to hear in various senses. Effective instruction needs to be given and modeled in a heart-palatable way in order to be received and retained.
Jesus provided a four-part discipleship system for impacting an individual’s learning environment that we can duplicate in Luke 10:2-9: bless, fellowship, minister, and communicate. First you prayerfully bless, changing the spiritual atmosphere, then you relationally interact in a loving way, you joyfully attend to their needs, and lastly communicate God’s heart. I realize in this scriptural context, Jesus was giving instruction for winning the lost, however, these principles also apply in a parental setting. I’ve experienced this with my son Levi. Throughout his life—though I am far from perfect in these areas—I can look back and see that I prayed for him and blessed his decisions and activities, I consistently attended to his needs as his parent, and interacted with him in a way that communicated love and value. I provided godly instruction that promoted sure foundations and opportunities for him to experience God in a personal way. Today, he has a vibrant, personal relationship with Jesus that is life-giving and God-honoring. A famous minister, Charles Studd, once said, “The light that shines farthest shines brightest at home.”
Discipleship Begins with Parents
Looking around as a mom today, I am concerned about the amount of time children spend without face-to-face interaction from their primary disciplers—mom and/or dad. Many children today spend far more time participating in activities designed for personal use than they spend in group, family, or social settings. I was recently in a security line at the airport and I noticed a child, no more than 2 years old, sitting in a stroller completely absorbed in a video on an iPhone with no parental interaction or awareness of what was going on around him. Unfortunately, this is all too common in our society today.
Now, I am aware that times change and society changes with them, so I am by no means advocating for a return to the days before electronics, personal computers, or hand-held phones. Forward movement in society has always come with a good side and a bad side as exampled, for instance, by the printed word. We need to use a strong filter for much of the printed material available today, but we can also gain a great deal of knowledge from books and the Word of God is now available in print in almost every language on the earth. What a blessing. There have been similar scenarios—the good side vs. the bad side—with every form of advancement up until now (radio, movies, television, telephones, computers, and more) and there will be more to come.
One of the scriptures we can use to guide our children in an empowering way is “Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life” (Prov. 4:23, AMPC). The most common word for “heart” in Hebrew is the word levav, and it includes our thoughts, our will, our discernment, and our affections. This clearly explains how we are to guard what we see, hear, and think about. It also comes with a promise that we can expect to see good things flow out of a life that puts good things into it.
The dilemma we are facing for our children is the difference in today’s technology as opposed to earlier advancements, based on the singular-ness it encompasses. While at one time families would read to each other or watch movies and television together, today’s devices are designed and promoted for personal, private use. Even siblings sitting next to each other on the couch are rarely interacting (unless they are texting memes to each other). This breakdown in interpersonal connection affects us because discipleship requires face-to-face time spent together and large quantities of it, not just a smattering of quality time where you tell your children instead of showing them. However, we can be encouraged because each new advancement has presented a challenge to believers which we have overcome and even utilized to further the Kingdom. This one will be no different because God always has a plan.
Family Is a Gift from God
“Fathers, don’t exasperate your children, but raise them up with loving discipline and counsel that brings the revelation of our Lord” (Eph. 6:4, TPT). As a parent, you have a limited amount of time to complete the task God gave you when He placed children in your home. You are the one to set boundaries for the use of technology in your home. Don’t hand over your responsibility to a hand-held device. Make time to listen to the heart of your child at every age and at every turning point in their growth. Every day, you have the opportunity to show them a little more about the God you serve.
God intended for your children to be discipled from conception and His promise is: they will not depart from it. You have His Word on that. God gives a parent an uncommon advantage in the battlefield of opinions. Parental instruction is God’s idea and the responsibility given to parents comes with revelation and anointing to ensure success. Revelation comes through the Word of God whether spoken to a parent’s heart or provided in Scripture. Anointing is the combination of Word and Spirit to guide and activate the truth and as a parent, you are anointed to disciple your children.
Children are God’s love-gift; they are heaven’s generous reward. Children born to a young couple will one day rise to protect and provide for their parents. Happy will be the couple who has many of them! A household full of children will not bring shame on your name but victory when you face your enemies, for your offspring will have influence and honor to prevail on your behalf! – Psalms 127:3-5 (TPT)
Download my free notes, God’s Blessing for our Children Scriptures, HERE.