Bringing Up Children Who Will Love the Lord – Part 1

Recently on MOTHBoard, the message board that supports the Managers of Their Homes book, we had a wonderful question. I felt it had such valuable universal application that I told the writer I would personally respond to her question in detail in a near-future Mom’s Corner. Here is what she wrote:

“My greatest desire for my child is that he will love the Lord with all of his heart. He is generally well behaved and obedient, but I have recently realized that I need to do a better job of stirring up godly appetites in his heart. I want to teach him to be a lover of God more than a lover of pleasure.

“There are two areas where I see my own need to improve: One is that I don’t think I have scheduled in enough work and responsibility for him. The other is that I am not a diligent person. I am too quick to settle for less effort, both on my part, and on his. I haven’t been purposely doing this, but now that I realize it, I am so sorry for it! I want to change, and I am claiming God’s promise that I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.

“I am going to re-read my Managers of Their Homes book, and re-write our schedule. Once I have done this, I plan to start joining the weekly accountability threads.

“Meanwhile, I would love any advice you have. I know that teaching our children to love God above all is a heart issue. However, I believe that our hearts are affected by the way we spend our time. I believe that our schedule has a VERY strong impact on our hearts. What do you put on your schedules that has actually brought fruit in your children’s lives, taught them to love the Lord, and to have a servant’s heart?

“We have silent Bible reading, as well as a time for reading the Bible together, and for memory work. He uses a Bible study book as part of his homeschool work. We also have a reading time right before bed. For the most part, we use books with a godly focus, such as the Moody Family books, Rod and Staff stories, etc. What more can I do to give him godly teachings and to help him apply these teachings to his life?” WhiterThanSnow

“And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up” (Deuteronomy 6:5-7). Certainly, most of us are familiar with these verses and would desire this outcome for our children just like WhiterThanSnow does for her son. The verses themselves give us some of the answers to the question of how one teaches their children to love the Lord Jesus. We will delve into that aspect as we continue. For now, I just wanted us to have read the verses that are the basis for the goal.

The other part of WhiterThanSnow’s desire for her son comes from 2 Timothy 3:4. Paul is describing the negative attributes of men in the last days with a scary, awful list of the actions and attitudes that will be prevalent at that time. One aspect is that men will be “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.”

WhiterThanSnow nailed it pretty well when she said she wasn’t a diligent person, and perhaps that has been the reason for her son not being diligent either. There is an awesome reality that our children mirror what they see in our lives. Of course, that can work positively or negatively, but it seems children are usually more quick to catch the negative than the positive.

The appetites and passions that WhiterThanSnow has in her life will most likely become the ones that are in her son’s life. If WhiterThanSnow spends personal time in the Word and in prayer each morning before her son gets up and then at breakfast shares her excitement about what she has learned, he will desire to do the same thing. “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is” (Psalms 63:1). “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). However, if there is no passion in WhiterThanSnow’s heart for her Lord as evidenced by the way she spends her time and what she talks about, she really can’t expect to find that passion in her son’s heart. Sadly that is often the case. We want an outcome for our children that isn’t the reality in our own lives.

When WhiterThanSnow digs into her morning chores with a smile on her face and a song on her lips, she will likely find her son beginning to do the same thing. “She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens” (Proverbs 31:15). “The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting: but the substance of a diligent man is precious” (Proverbs 12:27). “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4). Through this example, WhiterThanSnow can model for her son not only diligence in the task at hand but a love for the Lord Jesus Christ in the midst of the everyday jobs that fill many of our hours.

On the other hand, if WhiterThanSnow grumbles and complains about her workload and heads for the computer to read e-mails and blogs rather than tackling her housework, she reinforces the sin nature in her son that gravitates toward selfishness and laziness. “Do all things without murmurings and disputings” (Philippians 2:14). “I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man” (Proverbs 24:30-34).

Our lives are the starting place toward the goal of raising a child who is more a lover of the Lord Jesus Christ than he is a lover of pleasure. May we critically evaluate the example we are placing before our children, repent if our hearts have strayed from their first love or are lazy, and then ask the Lord to help us back on the path on which we need to be. As WhiterThanSnow said, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). While it may seem too hard to change or seem overwhelming in the current circumstances, the Lord gives us yet another encouragement: “. . . My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Next month we will continue to evaluate key ingredients in our children’s lives that will draw them to that love of their Savior.