Start Here for Successful Christian Parenting
How can parents know if they’ve done their job? For successful Christian parenting, first we need to have a sound Biblical understanding of our responsibilities and God’s expectations. Next, parents must have a reasonable idea of their goals for parenting and some Biblical measures to use as a yardstick. Parents should form their expectations for their children’s behavior from God’s Word and not from the expectations of society or popular culture. If God is satisfied with the results, we can rest in his approval!
Successful Christian parenting is a high stakes venture. Many Christian parents fail to appreciate how much is riding on the decisions they make. The ruin of a child often begins when parents ignore a young toddler’s disobedient look or rebellious words because it is inconvenient to administer correction. Parents will send children to Sunday school and take them to church, because they consider that an important duty. But often they will overlook overt disobedience because it is a bother or an embarrassment to correct their children when and where they need it most!
Some parents incorrectly believe it is up to God to deal with their children’s tendency toward rebelliousness! As parents, God holds us fully accountable to faithfully represent His authority and standards. He does not leave us empty-handed in dealing with our children’s wayward tendencies. The book of Proverbs clearly prescribes generous applications of the rod of correction to lead our children into Godly and respectful character. Many parents, influenced by psychology and other secular influences use ineffective methods of discipline. Parents who ignore the clear directions in God’s Word on how to discipline their children in favor of worldly wisdom, such as psychological learning theories, will be sadly disappointed by the results.
We don’t want to mislead you into thinking our experiences at parenting were uneventful and free from concern. Some of our friends and family have suggested that our children were the blessed beneficiaries of some genetic or spiritual accident that made them docile and obedient. Not so! Our children were born ordinary sinners, just as you and I. We opposed their natural inclination to rebel with swift and consistent discipline, beginning when they were toddlers.
With each child in turn, we passed times of decision when we knew, without doubt, that they were standing at the brink of blessing or curses, depending on the choices they made. We were watchful over their souls and passed many sleepless nights in prayer. During those times we were fully conscious of the spiritual battle that was taking place over our children. Fierce spiritual conflicts rage over every child. They have an enemy who hates them and desires to see them in cruel bondage. It is only the diligent exercise of parental authority that will spare them the misery of rebellion. The blessings of peace with God come from a heart learning to submit to His hand from an early age.
These times of spiritual conflict were short intense periods, lasting months, not prolonged struggles enduring year after year. God’s grace, with parental obedience, will capture our children’s hearts and affections and lead them to a walk of obedience. For us, following these struggles, we experienced the joy of liberation along with the peace and security of knowing that our God was mighty and faithful to reveal Himself to our children.
While we consider ourselves successful Christian parents, we did not do everything “just right.” There is room for parents to make many mistakes, for we are learning as we raise our children. Children must learn faithfulness and obedience, while parents must learn to exercise their leadership in a wise and loving manner. Our children remember some of the mistakes we made, just as we remember some of theirs. (See our daughter Ruth’s testimony.) Yet we have all learned to treasure God’s blessing, and his work to make us a close family while giving us unity of spirit and purpose.
Successful Christian Parenting Passes Faith Across Generations
God Himself must demonstrate to each man the proof of His existence. He alone can provide the reason for their faith. We cannot merely pass traditions on to the next generation. To perpetuate a godly faith from one generation to another, the burning torch must pass from heart to heart. Only God can provide the fire. Often times, the reason the torch fails to pass is because the spiritual fire of the parents is far too cold to ignite anything. For parents, disobedience to God and entanglement with habitual sin can lead to a lukewarm faith and coldness of heart. Jesus warned that the End Times would be marked with unrestrained rebellion and widespread wickedness and temptations that would sap the faith of most Christians.
When it came to our children, each time we faced a major spiritual battle we examined our own hearts. We knew sin in our lives was an advantage to our enemy and an obstacle to God’s blessing. Each victory began by our own revival and repentance from any areas of sin and moral compromise in our own hearts. The reward was seeing our children develop their own relationship with God as He began to speak to their hearts. We took security in knowing they were hearing his voice through a tender and active conscience supported by a detailed knowledge of God’s Word. This is the essence of successful Christian parenting.
We did not hesitate to declare God’s counsel to our children. They grew accustomed to frequent conversations and probing questions about their grasp of the elements of our faith. We frequently warned them how important it was to walk in obedience to God. If you ask them, they will tell you that over the years as they were growing up we questioned them hundreds of times to see if they had completed their daily Bible readings. We still ask them. It proves to them that we attach so much importance to the regular reading of God’s Word that we would embarrass them if necessary. We also provided them with our own consistent example of daily Bible reading; Sallie and I read through the Bible yearly with a disciplined program that ensures we cover every chapter, even those Old Testament books that we might be tempted to pass over as less interesting.
The articles we’ve assembled here on successful Christian parenting are some of the best we’ve come across. We are grateful for the many pastors and teachers who have written on the topic of parenting and share them here in the hope that they will encourage you in your own parenting efforts.