Most of the believers I know have a strong desire to raise their children to be godly; to be passionate followers of Christ.
Years ago, before I even had children, God laid on my heart to develop a plan for my fathering. Though at the time I didn’t put this on paper, over the years I have begun to write it down in an effort to encourage other parents to have a plan for their parenting in the area of spiritual development.
That plan was covered in previous posts — this is an expansion of that — but in addition to having a plan, we thought through as a couple actions which could help attain our plan for parenting.
You can have the best plan in the world but with no steps to implement them they will just be pretty words on paper. That’s true in every area of our life, including parenting.
One of the things we wanted to see was our children following after Christ. We wanted to instill godly principles in their life. These are some specific suggestions we thought through for the spiritual development part of our plan. You can use a similar approach but alter them to fit your own plan, life situations, and the individualities of your children. This is what we did. And, by God’s grace — and so far — with two adult children who love and serve Jesus — it is working.
Although, I would say these should be good suggestions for any parent.
Here are 10 suggestions for raising godly children:
Realize that raising godly children does not usually happen by accident. It will require proper planning and implementation. You can’t just “hope” for the Bible to impact the life of your children. You’ll have to work at it daily.
Know what you want your child to look like as adults. Ultimately, as I said before, we wanted our boys to be like Christ, so He became the primary model we used. We talked about Jesus often. He was no stranger in our home — not just a Sunday occurrence.
Define for them what it means to be a Christ follower. For me that definition is one who knows what God requires of him and is willing to do whatever it takes to meet that requirement. We wanted our boys to understand that was not just a term it was a life mission.
Strive to live like Christ personally. I realized early in parenting that our boys would each, in many ways, be copycats of both of us — but especially me. Because of that, we were conscious of the fact they must see us willing to live out our own definition of who a Christ follower — being willing to walk by faith, even when we didn’t understand all He was doing — which was often. We had numerous hard seasons of life when the boys were little. We wanted them to see us handling the stress of life by seeking Christ’s input into our situations.
Have basic principles of spiritual growth that you want each child to learn. For me those were:
- How to hear from God.
- The importance of prayer.
- What it means to be a student of God’s Word.
- The act of surrendering to God’s will.
- To apply Scripture to daily life.
Find practical teachings from God’s Word. Boys seem naturally attracted to stories about action, even violence to a certain extent. Of course, we wanted them to understand those things from a biblical perspective. And, the Bible is full of great stories. That meant looking at the characters of the Bible and how their lives represented Christ, how they heard from and obeyed God, and also how sometimes they failed to do so. Also, reading through Proverbs and Ecclesiastes was another helpful too to help implant wisdom in our boys. We talked about the stories of the Bible and how they impacted us today.
Individualize teaching time for the child. We seldom did the typical Bible study setting. We weren’t the weekly family devotion family. It simply didn’t work for us. We looked for teachable moments with our boys — for one boy, with me that was often while pitching a baseball together and for the other it was while kicking a soccer ball. Bedtime was another opportune time for teaching. It is amazing what children will do to delay bedtime, but if the discussion is productive We always felt their character development was most important. Dinner time was another opportunity when we could talk about the things of God.
Be purposeful to talk about the specific character traits you want your child to have. We decided each year what was most important for each boy to learn that year. We purposely brought up character topics, such as honesty or how to treat girls and discussed it with them during teaching moments when we had their full attention.
Be willing to grow in your own learning of who Christ is. Over the years, our understanding of who Christ is and how He relates to us and the world around us has continually grown. We allowed our boys to walk through those changes with us. We weren’t afraid to let them know we didn’t have answers or that we were wrong.
Pray and trust Christ. I know plenty of examples where parents did everything we did, yet they haven’t experienced the same results. Only God’s grace can really build godliness and every child has the ability to resist that grace. In the end, do all you know to do and trust God with your children.
I took personally that one of my responsibilities as a father was to see that these implemented in our home. I am thankful for a supporting wife who has worked with me to balance my role with her more nurturing role (which she is excellent at completing). So far our now adult young men are following after God’s heart in their own way.
My role has changed from my boy’s primary teacher to one of a mentor or coach. I’m their friend — still their dad, but it’s different now. They call me regularly for advice. They want my input in their life. More than anything, however, I’m thankful for the godly young men they have become.