Raising Arrows: Lead by Example

We must equip our own selves with God’s truth so we can pass it along to our children

Jesus and Mary (photo credit: ARIEL COHEN)
Jesus and Mary
(photo credit: ARIEL COHEN)
When we watch the news, we realize, undeniably, that the world is changing. The moral compass of society is off – people have drifted so far from God’s way. This situation often prompts parents to consider and reevaluate their parenting styles. In particular, parents wonder, “How do I parent my children so they are prepared for the new uncertainties of daily life?”
The answer, of course, can be found in the eternal, unchangeable certainties of God’s word – a resource we are prone to overlook in daily life when we relegate His word exclusively to weekly times of corporate worship or study. While other resources are beneficial to parents, we must not overlook the practical, day-to-day wisdom that God imparts through the Holy Bible.
God has given us clear instructions about how to raise children. He even includes specific examples that illustrate the integration of His wisdom with our daily talking and walking, sleeping and waking, doing and thinking, entering and leaving, such as in Deuteronomy 6:6-9.
These explicit instructions teach fathers and mothers how to train their children in the ways of the Lord – by seizing every moment for His good and grace. As parents, our lives tend to be busy – commitments spread us so thin. This, in turn, causes us to practice godly training through the simple defaults of praying before meals and attending church. While these practices are important, we are called to do more. That “more” is the intentional integration of God’s word with all we do and say.
But, first things first. In order for parents to teach their children well, they must have right hearts themselves. We cannot teach our children to love, respect and seek God if we are not doing the same. We must lead by example so that our children see what it truly means to be a Christian. We must equip our own selves with God’s truth so we can model true faith and pass it along to our children.
Another way to build faith in children and shape their hearts is to teach them scripture. Scripture memorization helps children better understand God’s word and teaches them that Christianity is not just a “Sunday thing.” Christianity is about a relationship with God lived out every day of the week. Memorizing scripture equips children for life by enabling them to carry God’s word with them wherever they go.
We know our children will face obstacles and hardships in life – that is inevitable. But the inevitable hardships and dark times can be enlightened with a lamp for their feet and a luminescence for their paths (Psalm 119:105).
Ultimately, the goal of Christian parenting is to impart living faith to our children – we want them to know the word and the way so that they will personally know Jesus, the living way and truth and life. Parents have the primary responsibility for passing along Christian faith to their children, beginning in the home. We must intentionally look for ways to show them God’s love there.
When specific issues arise with children, we should seek to understand the roots of the problems. Often, we are tempted to say “don’t do that” or “be nice” when our children act contrary to God’s word. But this “easy way out” correction is ineffective if we don’t slow down and attempt to understand the motivations for our children’s behaviors. Understanding coupled with correction is crucial. This will not always be convenient because it takes more time, but the reward is teachable moments that highlight how God’s word applies to everyday situations.
Of course, you must remember that no matter how much you want to do things right, you are not perfect, and, thus, your actions will not be perfect. You will fall short of your parenting goals from time to time. But there is good news – these are teachable moments, too! In the valley of our own sinful behavior, we can demonstrate to our children the nature of, and need for, repentance and forgiveness.
While we cannot fully keep our children from seeing, hearing and experiencing the uncertainties and immoralities of this world, we can teach them to see, hear, and experience this world through the light of God’s word. The role of parents, the primacy of home, and practical truth of God’s word, lived and taught, have never been more important. The world changes, but God’s word does not.
The writer is the founder of Scarlett Gray Publishing, a Christian publishing company dedicated to producing children’s books centered on God’s word. She is also the author of A to Z with the One True King. She can be reached at [email protected]