This week, I am on vacation so I have invited some of my friends and colleagues in ministry to write a few articles about their experiences with children’s ministry. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I have.
Today’s post is from Dr. Tommy Spotts. Tommy is the Executive Pastor and works with Journey Groups at my church, Cornerstone Baptist Church. He has been in ministry leadership since 1988 and holds a Doctor of Ministry Degree and Master of Divinity Degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has a passion for leadership and helping people to live with integrity. He lives with his wife, Lari, in Florence, SC, and has two children, Anna and Greer. You can visit his blog at TommySpotts.com or follow him on Twitter.
Every parent wants to impact their children for good. However, the craziness of life, job requirements, bills, grocery shopping, cleaning the house, cutting the grass, and many other distractions often take priority. I want to encourage parents to consider the following five ways to impact your children for God’s good. I promise if you do the following, you will face discouragement along the way. However, your children will be amazingly transformed.
- Pray for your children – Parents should always pray for their children. Children need prayer and parents need to pray! God entrusts them to us for a season, and then when they are older they begin their own families. Prayer is powerful and accomplishes great things. Jesus reminds us in Luke 18:1 (ESV) that we should “always pray and not lose heart.” Later in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 Paul admonishes us to “pray without ceasing.” Finally, in James 5:16, James encourages us by revealing that the “fervent prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much.” Each of these verses should be the cornerstone of our prayer lives. We should not lose heart while we pray without ceasing for our children, with the expectation that our prayers will accomplish great things. Pray for their salvation. I know sometimes we really don’t feel like praying for our children and at other times the only thing we can do is pray for our children. Let me encourage you to pray always for your children. It’s the one thing we can do that has the greatest impact.
- Play with your children – Children remember the play times! If your children only see you work, work, and work, they could potentially grow up with the idea that an absentee parent is just the way life works. I think it is important for parents to work hard and play hard. I remember coaching my kids in basketball when they were younger. I can’t say that we won the state championship, but I did get to spend time with them in a unique way. Some Saturday afternoons in the fall, we would play football in the front yard together. It was so exciting dodging the holes, trees and bushes! By the way, we played in the front yard because the dog played in the back yard….if you know what I mean (didn’t want to dodge that stuff)!
- Stay involved with your children – Parents have a tendency to withdraw from their children’s lives as children grow older because society says children need to become independent. The truth is, no one ever successfully lives an independent life. All of us are ultimately and totally dependent on God as our source of strength and every breath we breathe. Rather than becoming distracted with the busyness of life, it is critical to walk with your children as they grow through every stage. Although your children may not want you involved in their lives at times, they need us to be involved in their lives. While children believe that your involvement is sometimes annoying, it is also necessary. God gave us children to nurture, love, teach, and discipline. To do this effectively, we must remain involved.
- Weigh in with your children – Parents should always choose to weigh in on decisions their children make. In doing this, they take the initiative to help children make wise decisions. I can remember when my children were much younger and my wife and I basically made all their decisions for them. As they grew up, we began to make less and less of their decisions and begin praying that they would make the right decisions. At some point in the home, you will find it necessary to allow your children to begin making some of their own decisions based on what you taught them in God’s word. This is the time your prayer life really picks up steam! By the way, the best way to help your children make right decisions early and later in life is to teach them what Scripture says about life’s issues. There’s no better way!
- Raise your children in a strong church – Parents have a responsibility to not only raise their children under the authority of God’s word, but also to involve them in a strong church where they can grow and have a great understanding of God. Children are so teachable and retain so much of what they learn and experience when they are younger. Their view of God is often created and nurtured in church and then reinforced in the home. While this is the norm, it isn’t God’s normal for the family. The normal for the family is that their view of God is often created and nurtured in the home, and then reinforced at church. The choice of a church is one of the most important decisions parents can make for their children, because it reinforces God’s sovereignty, love, compassion, justice, and salvation.
I would like to leave you with a prayer from Andrew Murray’s book, Raising Your Children for Christ (1984):
“Lord God, You have indeed taken me, too, into this wonderful covenant. Teach me to fully realize what parental faithfulness is. I make this the one object of my home life, to train my children to serve You. By my life, by my words, by my prayers, by gentleness and love, by authority and command, I will lead them in the ways of the Lord. Please help me to do this! Teach me to understand that You have made provisions for the grace to enable me to perform my parental duties. Let my faith see You undertake for me and all I have to do. Let my ever-growing faith be the root of an ever-growing faithfulness. I ask it in the name of Your Son” Amen (p.41).
References: Murray, A. (1984). Raising your children for Christ. New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House.