Having kids is hard. Raising them is even tougher and even difficult at times. Raising children in the way they should go is demanding on any parent. Most parents try their best to create a safe and nurturing environment and raise their children in such a way that they know they are loved.
As a pastor of a church that ministers to thousands of children every week, I do not take lightly our role as caretakers of these children. But even as caretakers, we know our role is to be a partner with the parents in their growth. One of our highest callings is to help children and parents grow in love and in their knowledge of God.
We also know that after our two or three hours at church are over, it’s the parent who is responsible for everything from safety to schooling and activities. As parents of five grown children, we have learned that there are timeless truths and very practical ways to approach the most important assignment ever given by God to moms and dads.
Lead by example. How is your language? What tone of voice do you use with your family and others? Do you listen to your kids? How is your behavior when you are angered? How do you speak with and treat your spouse? How do you handle conflict? Our actions and words leave lasting impressions.
Be patient. Children learn the same way you did. Give them the gift of time and patience. Being patient can help them learn things for themselves.
Give them roots of faith and family. Instill in your kids the roots of your faith and family values. This will be a foundation for them for the rest of their lives. They will stumble sometimes, just like you did, but their roots in values and faith will hold them fast when stormy seasons come.
Give them wings. Let them dream, knowing they will try different identities until they find the one that fits. When we believe in them, they believe in themselves. Affirm them. Speak well of them to others. Encourage them and show them affection by hugging on them and kissing them. Then they will fly with confidence and achieve their God-given purpose.
Discipline your children. To discipline our children is to love them. Proverbs 22:6 says: “Train up a child in the way he should go, teaching him to seek God’s wisdom and will for his abilities and talents. Even when he is old he will not depart from it.” To discipline our children is to teach them morals and to build character in them.
God has a purpose for our kids and we raise them with one goal in mind: that they will some day make the right decisions without us there to make them. Never forget that times change, people change, but God does not change. Help them put down roots of faith that will stand the test of time and launch them to new heights.
Jentezen Franklin is the senior pastor of Free Chapel in Gainesville. He can be contacted at 678-677-8300 or visit www.freechapel.org.