This week I had an opportunity of talking with a good friend encouraging him to make sure that his children weren’t neglected as he faithfully served the Lord in his ministry. I paraphrased Jesus by saying, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own family?”
As a guy who just enrolled in Medicare, the father of five and grandfather of eighteen, maybe I could share some insight that might be helpful. Career success is nice, but any parent’s greatest legacy is their children and grandchildren. I agree with the Apostle John who said, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 4).
So what can we do as parents to pour into our kids so that they have the greatest chance to “walk in the truth?”
1. BE INTENTIONAL—We’re instructed to, “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6). The word “train” is the Hebrew word “hanak” and it means to dedicate, like dedicating the Temple of the Lord. We are to dedicate our parenting to the Lord and our children for His service. And we must train our children according to their natural bent—like stringing a bow. If you string a bow backwards it will break (see my grandson, Hank, aiming his bow and arrow). One of the ways to do this is to learn your child’s love language as taught by Dr. Gary Chapman in his book The 5 Love Languages for Children (Physical Touch, Acts of Service, Gifts, Words of Affirmation, Quality Time).
2. BE PRESENT—This leads us to the obvious conclusion that we must be present in our child’s life. Absentee parenting is doomed to fail. I’m seeing how relevant this is for my grandkids. I started a tradition many years ago to take my children out for their Birthdays, and as the grandkids came along I continued with them. It is one of the greatest privileges and blessings in my life to share this time with them. Rick Marshall with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association said, “You are of no value where you are not!” Be present and engaged with your children.
3. BE REAL—Your children don’t really care what you believe until they first determine if they want to be like you. As genuine followers of Messiah we should be like Him. The Apostle Paul said, “And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). When your children catch you praying, reading your Bible, asking forgiveness from them when you’ve blown it, and truly living for the Lord, they will be drawn to the faith.
Onward in the truth,