Aug 31, 2017

Bring Them Up


It is not easy being a parent.  This person summed it up well.

Before I was a parent, I had three theories about raising children, now I have three children and no theories about raising children.
As we parent our children through the different stages of their childhood, it is vital that we do so with God's wisdom and help.  There are many good books and resources on parenting, but the best parenting wisdom comes from God's Word.

"Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath by the way you treat them, but BRING THEM UP with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord."   -Ephesians 6:4

We are to bring up our children to love Jesus and follow Him.  But how do we do that in a culture that pulls them the opposite direction?  How do we do that when they receive so many opposing messages?

In this one verse, God gives us three keys to bringing up our children to love and follow Jesus.  Let's look at them.

1. TREAT THEM RIGHT

Notice how the verse starts out.

"Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath by the way you TREAT them."  

Bringing up children must first be grounded in relationship.  Without relationship, the next two steps will not work.  Rules without relationship = rebellion.  Children don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.

We have been given a precious gift from the Lord.

"Children are a gift from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is His reward."  Psalm 127:3 

Our children are our greatest investment.  Financially, the average family spends $233,610.00 on a child before he or she goes to college.  Obviously, children are a significant investment financially.  But even greater is the relational and spiritual investment we are called to make in them.

We tend to parent the way we were parented.  If we were yelled at, our default is to yell at our kids.  If we were constantly criticized, our default is to criticize.  If we were belittled, our default is to belittle.  We must be intentional about stopping the pattern and start treating our children with love and respect.

What does treating your children right look like?  Paul answers this question in I Thessalonians 2.

"We were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her children."  (vs. 7)

We are to treat our children with gentleness.  Gentleness is strength with a soft touch.  It is a compassionate approach to our child's weaknesses and shortcomings.

Paul goes on to say in verses 11-12...

"For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into His kingdom and glory."

We are to give our children encouragement.  For every 1 criticism or correction, we should give them 9 words of encouragement. 

We are to give our children comfort.  This means being there for them.  They should know that no matter what happens, you will be a shoulder they can cry on.

Dan Baber honored his mother by posting an auction on eBay titled, "Best Mother in the World."  The winning bidder would receive an email from his mother that would "make you feel like you are the most special person on earth."  Over 42,711 people responded and the winning bid was $610.00.  This is an example of how people who never receive affirmation and comfort, long for it.

We are to urge our children to live for God.  We are to not just "call them out" for their shortcomings.   Rather we are to urge...to "call them up" to be all that they can be for God.  Instead of just calling our children out for being lazy, we are to call them up to be a person of persistence and diligence.  Instead of just calling our children out for being dishonest, we are to call them up to be a person of honesty and integrity.  Instead of just calling our children out for arguing with their sibling, we are to call them up to treat others with respect and love.

If a child lives with encouragement, she learns confidence.

If a child lives with praise, he learns to appreciate.

If a child lives with fairness, she learns justice.

If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith.

If a child lives with approval, she learns to like herself.

Did you know that when the penguins are preparing to bring children into the world, that the male penguin comes to the breeding grounds in Antarctica?  The father penguin receives the egg and then holds it on top of his feet.  He gently protects and holds the egg for months, while waiting for the baby to hatch.  He endures temperatures of 80 degrees below zero and whipping, cold winds of over 100 mph.

What a great picture of how we are to treat our children.  We are to hold them gently.  Encouraging them.  Comforting them.  Urging them to become all God has intended for them to be.

2. TRAIN THEM

Notice what the verse in Ephesians says next.

"Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath by the way you treat them, but BRING THEM UP with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord."   -Ephesians 6:4

The word discipline means to train.  It is like a coach who is training his player for the game.  He can't play the game for his player, but he can prepare his player for the game.  So, we as parents, are to train our children for life.  We can't live their life for them, but we can prepare them to live theirs.

As our child's "coach," our end goal should be to help our child become a better person.  Our discipline should be for motivation not humiliation.
 Discipline isn't something you do to your child.  It's something you do for your child.
We are to train our children to persevere, so they don't quit when things get tough.

We are to train our children to have character, so one day they will lead with integrity.

We are to train our children to be a good husband or wife, so one day they will have a good marriage.

3. TEACH THEM

The third key is found in the last part of the verse.

"Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath by the way you treat them, but BRING THEM UP with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord."  
 -Ephesians 6:4

We are to teach our children what they need to know to succeed in life.  And it's important to understand that first and foremost, we teach our children not by what we say, but by what we do.
 Children may not always do what we say, but they never fail to imitate what we do.
We must live out a genuine faith before our children.   If we are going to teach our children to be passionate about God, then we must be passionate about God first.  If we are going to teach out children to pray, then they must first see us praying.  If we are going to teach our children to love God's Word, then they must first see us reading the Word.  If we are going to teach our children making church a priority, then we must make taking them to church a top priority.

We must also be intentional about teaching our children our core values and beliefs.  Parents must start with the end in mind and map out what they want their children to believe, what kind of person they want their child to be, what values they want their child to hold, etc.
If you are not outlining and teaching your values, morals and beliefs as the foundation for your child's life, then you must ask yourself, "Who is?"
If we don't shape our child's worldview, then outside influences will.

Don't beat yourself up.  As parents, we tend to blame ourselves when our children blow it, don't we?  When our kids fail, we feel like failures as parents.

Our job is to invest in our children and love them unconditionally.  A great example of this is the father of the prodigal son.  His son turned his back on him.  Disrespected him.  Walked away from the values he had been taught.

But the father never gave up on him.  Notice that he did not chase after his son.  He allowed his son to face the consequences of his actions.   But he never stopped loving his son.  He never stopped looking and praying for his return.  And when the son did come home, he met him with compassion rather than condemnation.  He met him with love rather than lambasting him.  He met him with a hug rather than with hate.

Our children need to know that we will always love them.  No matter what happens, we will be there with open arms to welcome them home.

At the end of the day, we can't make our children follow Jesus.  It is their choice.  Anne Frank said this.
 Parents can only give good advice or put their children on the right paths, but the final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands.
Our job is to create good soil that children's lives can be planted in.  We can't make them grow.  We can't make them flourish.  We are to simply create an environment, a home, a family, that gives them the best opportunity to grow up to love Jesus and walk in His ways.  As we do that, our prayer is they will blossom into the person God has intended them to be.

Below is a video of a recent talk I shared entitled "Bring Them Up."  Feel free to share with the parents in your ministry.  I am also available to speak in your ministry.  You can get more information about having me come at this link.
 

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