Let’s face it … the world we live in is crazy. The other day on the Glen Beck TV show I watched footage of a teenager being beat to death with a railroad tie by another teenager while yet another teenager videoed the whole incident and laughed about it. Throw in drugs, sex trafficking, the porn industry and the state of the family and you’ll see the days we live in are evil. Families here in America and around the world are under attack. The divorce rate in the U.S. is out of control: 50 percent of first marriages, 67 percent of second and 74 percent of third marriages end in divorce, according to Jennifer Baker of the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology. The sad thing is the divorce rate among Christians isn’t much better.
Ephesians 5:15-16 tells us what to do, but we aren’t doing it. “Therefore, be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” Whether you are a single parent, a married couple or a married person alone in providing godly influences for your child, I believe you can raise godly kids when you are careful how you live. Use godly wisdom and make the most of every opportunity God presents you daily,
You can’t raise G-rated (godly) kids without Parental Guidance. It’s not suggested; it’s required. Married fathers spend an average 6.5 hours a week caring for their children. Married mothers spend 12.9 hours. Single mothers spend 11.8 hours. Out of those hours caring for their children, only an average of 3.5 minutes per week is spent in meaningful conversation with their kids. When you take these hours and look at the amount of time other influences get, it’s mind-boggling. The average teen spends 900 hours in school per year, 1500 hours watching TV. Teenagers spend an average of 31 hours a week online. Nielsen says that the average American household has a TV on eight hours and 15 minutes a day. No matter what your marital status the battle for hours and influences is on and Christian parents must wake up and start being intentional about the choices they make with their time and actions in order to raise godly kids!
There were three things Julie and I did with our kids that really paid off.
- We spent a lot of time with them—daily, weekly, and yearly.
- We always required church, including both attendance and involvement.
- We made up our own rules about the influences and voices that spoke into our kids (spending the night other places, video games, cell phones, internet use, phones and TVs in their rooms, driving, dating, and other influential relationships).
I believe with all my heart that there should be a difference in how Christians raise their children and how non-Christians parent their children!
For most of my childhood I had one parent. My mom was smart and enlisted the help of others when a father was not in the picture (extended family, the church, church leaders, Boy Scouts, coaches, and friends). I do believe, though, that two born again people working as a team with one agenda—to raise on-fire godly kids–have an advantage over parents working alone or in direct conflict with another parent who has a different mindset of parenting. But, I also believe a single parent or a parent working alone can raise children to be godly. It just requires more work, more time and being truly selective of the people who join the discipling team. With these thoughts in mind, let’s look at five things you should understand and practice to raise godly children in a not so godly world.
#1. Children are a gift from God and are part of God’s plan for families.
Ps. 127:3 says, “Children are a gift from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.” Gifts are to be sought after and cherished, especially when they come from someone you admire and esteem. At World Outreach Church we acknowledge that kids are the most valuable possession a young family has. Although parents realize this when their kids are small, they relax after a few years (much like parking your new car in the far parking space, and then after a few dings, parking it anywhere). Parents have a responsibility to guard and protect their child at every age, whether working alone or with a team.
#2. The responsibility for training children about God was given to parents!
Deut. 4:9 says, “Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life but make them known to your sons and your grandsons.” And Prov. 22:6 tells us to “Train up a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old, he will not depart.”
These verses were not written for pastors; they were written for parents. The phrase “in the way he should go” refers to God’s plan for our child. What does God want for your child? What do you want for your child? Your kids need to know what you and God desire for them. Kids, in turn, need to ask God, “What is Your plan for me?” Here’s a sample list of desires, vision, and goals that we had for our kids.
- We desire that they know God and love His Word, being a fully devoted follower of Christ.
- We desire that we be a close family.
- We desire that they exhibit godly character and have a biblical worldview!
- We desire that they fulfill the career plan God has for them.
- We desire they have a good work ethic and be responsible with all that is entrusted to them.
- We desire them to be an example to others and to be a difference maker to all those whom they encounter.
- We desire them to enjoy life.
And, we were committed to providing them with opportunities to develop their skills, abilities, education and the training needed to fulfill God’s plan.
What are your desires? The truth is, if you aim at nothing you’ll hit it every time!
Deut. 6:6-7 tells us how much time God thinks you need to devote to discipling your kids. “And these words … shall be upon your heart. And you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” How are you using your morning? Your evenings? Your time at home? Your travel time? Are you devoted to discipling your children or devoted mostly to other things?
Training children to be doers of the Word is a full-time job and it takes more instruction than a child can get on Sunday and Wednesday alone. It’s more than verbal instruction; it calls for a model—a trainer and a trainee.
#3. You can’t raise godly kids without focus!
Focus is defined as an act of concentrating interest or activity on something. Even if you’re alone in the parenting task, you must be intentional about your focus! One of my favorite scriptures is Prov. 28:2, “When a country is rebellious, it has many rulers, but a man of understanding and knowledge maintains order.” (NIV) Be intentional. Evaluate. Clarify your focus. Move forward in raising godly kids.
#4. Desire to be an encourager more than a drill sergeant.
The Bible is not a book of don’ts, but many parents present it as such. It’s a book of dos, and when children are encouraged to do all the dos, there’s not much time for the don’ts. Encourage your children to get involved in ministry. Encourage them to participate in activities that teach the value of serving. Talk to your children positively and be the biggest cheerleader in their life!
#5. You cannot disciple without discipline.
Matt. 28:19 says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” At the heart of discipleship is “discipline”, but the key is consistency. Kids learn commitment and respect for authority from their parents. Children need to know that rules apply to all members of your family. Explain why what they do wrong is wrong, and show them firsthand in the Word. Part of discipline is modeling repentance and forgiveness.
Whether parents have a partner or are working alone, enlisting the help of a local church with a dynamic family support ministry is a smart idea. Two combined influences working together with the same focus will be more effective than one influence working by itself.