Parenting for the Next Trillion Years

Key Priorities in Parenting Your Children Toward Christ[1]

Attitude toward church

For better or worse, the church represents God. A parent’s attitude toward the local church will be interpreted by the child as to where their heart is toward God.

I grew up in a home in which we always went to church. It wasn’t even an issue or a question. If the doors were open, we were there. What did that say? Church is important, and God is important. You know, I hear about parents sometimes asking their 12-year-old, do you want to go to church or do you not want to go to church? Really? Do you do that with school? Would you rather watch Disney movies all day or go to school? We laugh at that because we say we would never do that because education is so important. Don’t make it an option. In general, you want to look for opportunities to show them that spiritual things are more important than other things.

I remember when basketball became an issue. My dad loves basketball. He himself played and we played. We played for hours and hours in our driveway. I attended every league and camp available. My sophomore year I was attending a large public high school where basketball practice was on Wednesday nights, sometimes late enough to interfere with the youth ministry that night. This was a dilemma for my dad; a little Mt. Moriah moment because he desperately wanted me to succeed in sports. But he went to the coach and said, “My son will not be available after 6:30 on Wednesday nights.” Coach said, “Fine,” but didn’t like it. Wednesday nights I went to youth group. It hurt my playing time that year. But I learned a lesson about my dad’s heart. Today, which is more valuable? My sophomore year basketball statistics or the impression my dad’s stand made on my heart?

Your attitude toward church and leaders and the place of it in your schedule will speak volumes. If you’re negative toward the church on the Sunday drive home, don’t be surprised when your child turns 18 with a negative perspective on Christianity. You formed it in them, bit by bit for 6,000 days.

Atmosphere in the home

Deuteronomy 11:18–19 tells us God told Israel to create an atmosphere of spiritual instruction in the home. Talk about the Lord in the day-to-day of life. I strongly encourage you to have regular family devotions, either in the morning or at night. There are books available of Bible stories when children are younger that keep them interested. Pray together. Memorize verses together. Put up spiritual quotes and truths around the house. Those have a way of sticking with you.

Some people will say, you don’t want to take that too far! Yet you go to their house and they have shrines to IU basketball or the Bears. Memorabilia everywhere. Why all this? These are important to us. Will these be important in a trillion years? How important is where your child is a trillion years from now?

Adherence to God’s command

This is the daily ethic of our lives. Hear me. NOT spiritually perfect, just spiritually real. Lots of confession and forgiveness. Lots of Romans 7 stuff. This is directional. Is the general direction of my life toward the things of God? It’s the single most influencing human factor in the spiritual lives of our children. Who are we before them on the Mt. Moriahs of our lives?

Today, we are giving you the opportunity to pray together. Parents, together, families, however you want to pray. Confess to God and maybe to your children, Mommy & Daddy want to do this better. They don’t need perfection, they need reality. Maybe today can be a fresh start.

Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

© 2019 by Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.

[1] Pastor Bob Russell gave three key priorities in a message I heard 25 years ago that is the seed of this blog post.

To hear the message of this excerpt in its entirety, click here

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