Thinking Cap #35 - Guaranteed Good Kids
The dream of every set of parents. If you are like me, you have heard several sermons
directed to parents that take a tact similar to the following: "If you don't do what
I'm telling you, your kids will turn out bad," or "If you want your kids to turn
out right, then you need do thus and thus with them." Young parents, desperate to
have their children grow up to be fine, upstanding, moral and God-loving adults hang on
every word. They put into practice the "10 Ways to raise Godly Children" and
they eschew the "10 Ways to raise a Rebel" and they pray.
Then when Johnny or Susie grows up and rebels, they feel like failures. The same sermon
that blessed their heart and gave them hope, now make them feel like spiritual washouts.
Meanwhile Jimmie and Carol grew up to be wonderful children and their parents didn't even
attend church faithfully or get involved in any kind of ministry. Is there no justice in
this world? Is there no formula that can be used? What's a parent to do?
Having experienced all sides of the previous two paragraphs I have a couple thoughts
that I would like to share with you.
- Might I give a word of counsel to any pastor who is tempted to give a formula for
raising children. I would suggest rather that general principles of parenting be provided
with the balance of "no guarantees" as every person is a free moral agent and
will have to make their own choices in life.
- I would discourage anyone who has yet to raise children to speak with absolute
authority on raising children (are there any other reasons that young men just out of
Bible college ought not be the senior pastor of a church). Often this is done by young
pastors, who have the idealism of youth and have not yet tasted the reality of raising
children. Or, it is done by pastors who run their homes with an iron fist and are sure
that they and they alone are defenders of the truth.
- One of the essential doctrines of the Bible and also one of those areas that are very
difficult to understand is the balance between Determinism and Free-will. This is one of
those tensions in the Bible that appear mutually exclusive, yet which are both equally
true. If we are to believe that we have the choice to defy God and strike out on our own
path, are we to deny this same option to our children? Children, as free moral agents, are
free to follow and yield to the teaching of their parents, just as we adults are free to
follow and yield to the teachings of our Father in Heaven. Both are also free to reject
those truths. Rejecting God does not mean that God has failed. Nor, I would suggest, does
a child who rejects the teaching and example of Godly parents, mean that the parents have
- I may not have looked hard enough, but I have not been very successful in finding many
crystal clear examples in the Bible of excellent parenting where the kids turned out. As a
matter of fact, several of the famous "dads" in the Bible ended up with some
rather tragic situations: Jacob, Eli and David to name a few. Eli raised at least 3 kids,
two bad (Hophni and Phinehas) and one good (Samuel). Perhaps God, in His infinite wisdom
was telling us, there is no magic formula.
- There are principles and they must be preached. The Bible, especially in the Proverbs
and also Ephesians 6 carries excellent messages for parents.
Those principles should be preached and taught with authority and without excuse. Parents
are to be admonished to teach their children (Dt. 6), to set
the example and children are to be exhorted to obey their parents.
- I believe that God will hold parents accountable for what they teach and the example
that they set, regardless of how the children respond.
- I believe that God will hold children accountable for how they obey and honor their
parents following Biblical principles, regardless how the parents live and teach.
- The word *Parakletos* has an interesting application to the task of raising children.
Often, our children will not respond to our love, our instruction and our example. Try as
we may, they decide to reject Biblical truth and set out on their own course to discover
the realities of life. In that case, what is a parent to do? I have seen parents, stand
firm, thumping their Bible and continuing to preach to their rebellious children. I have
not seen much success in that route. I have also seen parents give up in bitter
resignation. That route has not seen many children return to the path of Christ. However,
when we needed help, God sent a *Parakletos* (Holy Spirit). Notice the key
word here. *Para* indicates "along side," and *kletos* indicates
"called." The Holy Spirit does not stand far off, telling us how we should
behave toward God. He comes "where we are" and ministers to our deepest needs.
Also notice, that we do not call for Him (we are too mired in our sin to know better). God
"sent" the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not passive in role, but active. In
the Greek, there is also a soteriological character in the work of the Holy Spirit. It
always points to Christ and His work on the cross on our behalf in a firm but gentle way.
Might I suggest that parents who are experiencing heartache with their children, study
the behavior of the Holy Spirit. Unconditionally love your children. Do not condone, nor
enable their sinful behavior. Don't expect them to return on their own. Go to them, where
they are and gently model Christ for them. If you have planted the seeds of the Bible in
them from their youth by word and by deed, there is a good chance those seeds will
germinate and grow. But, if the child continues to reject God and truth, ....
- God is sovereign. We may not be able to understand His ways, but we can trust Him. He is
able to give you peace. He is sufficient to meet your every need. Do not let circumstances
of live, rob you of your own relationship with the Lord.
- In everything give thanks. Grateful people find a blessing in every event of life for
which to be thankful. On his way to a revival meeting at which he was to speak, famous
commentary writer, Matthew Henry was robbed of all his money. He arrived at the meeting
and preached his message. Later that night, he wrote the following words in his diary:
"Let me be thankful that I was robbed tonight. Let me be thankful first because I was
never robbed before. Second, because, although they took my purse, they did not take my
life. Third, because, although they took my all, it was not much. And, fourth, because it
was I who was robbed, not I who robbed another."
"Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our
Lord Jesus Christ;" Let's be a thankful, grateful, and joyfilled people.
"For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." Let us be a
people that worship God because He is worthy to be worshipped regardless of the
circumstances we might face in life.
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