This month’s Mom’s Corner continues with a series of articles answering a question about what practical things we can do for our children that would help them grow into adults who love the Lord with all of their hearts and live their lives for Him. I am once again including the original e-mail that I received with the question that precipitated these Mom’s Corners so that you don’t have to look back to find it in the other articles.
“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 rewrite 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
To briefly recap, we first saw the importance of the model we are setting before our children through our personal example. No matter how much teaching we do, if our lives don’t demonstrate what we teach, our children will not learn what we want them to learn. Then we moved into the realm of using Scripture to build a love for Christ into our children’s lives. They need to be reading the Bible for themselves, reading it with the family, and also seeing its application to every aspect of their daily lives.
I believe that if we want our children to grow up to be lovers of God more than lovers of pleasures, that desire will be part of our ongoing prayers for our children. We will pray continually for our children as Paul prayed for the believers in his churches, “We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you” (Colossians 1:3). These desires that we have for our children will be more than lofty goals that we hope will someday happen. They will be undergirded by the greatest foundation possible, the foundation of prayer. I love the prayers Paul prayed and can see the practical application of praying these kinds of prayers for my children. “For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness” (Colossians 1:9-11).
As we strive to provide space in our children’s days for activities that will draw their hearts to the Lord Jesus, we would be wise to consider the negative impact that many activities can have on our children’s hearts and their focus. That is one of the major themes of our book called Keeping Our Children’s Hearts, so I won’t go into too much detail here. However, consider with me the child who grows up watching TV during his free time and playing a multitude of video games. Is it possible that he will so addicted to his entertainment that he will be a lover of his pleasures rather than a lover of God? If so, then we have to see our responsibility in this process because we are usually the ones who set the course of the daily schedule and allow access to these kinds of activities.
Another consideration when thinking about where a child’s heart will be drawn and how that will impact his walk with Jesus as an adult would be what his friends are like in his childhood years. What is the potential that a child’s friends will draw him to an all-consuming love for Jesus Christ versus drawing his heart to worldly fun? My husband, Steve, recently wrote a series of articles for dads that addressed this topic in much more depth. The series is called Worldly Friends.
Since WhiterThanSnow wants her son not only to love Jesus with all of his being but also to have a servant’s heart, certainly she will be moved toward her goal if she starts including her son in her daily work and chores. Think about the time a mother can spend with a child or multiple children working in the kitchen together or folding laundry. During those hours, fellowship and conversation occur all the while the child is serving. Much of it will be trivial discussion of the day’s events, but we can also steer those words into ones of spiritual magnitude. We can talk about our love for the Lord Jesus Christ, how it impacts our daily lives, how we fail and what we do when we fail, and how we want to have servant’s hearts. During these frequent discussions, we can bring Scripture to bear on the occurrences of life in our homes and help our children grow in their obedience to the Word and in their relationship with Jesus Christ. We also have a resource called Managers of Their Chores that goes into much more depth on this topic.
While daily work and chores are beneficial for the development of a servant’s heart, we also see the need for giving our children practical projects. Projects develop skills in our children’s lives, skills they can use to serve others both now and in the future. They also allow our children to strive to accomplish what is beyond the scope of our everyday chores, providing them with new challenges and incentives. Steve’s book Preparing Sons to Provide for a Single-Income Family is full of suggestions for implementing this kind of a mindset into our life styles. He also wrote a series of Dad’s Corners on this topic, which would be good resources, Practical Projects for Our Children.
The final suggestion I want to offer WhiterThanSnow as she pursues the development in her son of a heart for Jesus rather than a heart for pleasure is that they begin to minister together. Family ministry is a natural outgrowth of families choosing to work together. While there are limits on ministry with children, as we pray to the Lord for those opportunities, He is faithful to provide and direct. A very basic way to serve with children that I can think of would be to minister through hospitality. We can invite other families into our home for an evening of food and conversation. Include the children in the planning, food preparation, serving, and cleanup. For us, we always include family Bible time as part of the activities and invite our guests to join us.
A nursing, assisted-living, or retirement home outreach is another possibility with children because the elderly residents greatly love having children with whom to interact. When taking children into a nursing home, it is important to maintain high sanitary precautions since there is the possibility that germs in the nursing home will be detrimental to a child’s health. When Nathan and Melanie take our granddaughter, Abigail, to the nursing home, they keep her hands back so that the residents can’t reach out for them, utilize hand sanitizer frequently, and wash her clothing when they return home.
What higher vision could we have for our children than that they would love the Lord Jesus Christ with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength? Wouldn’t we agree with Paul as he writes to Timothy that we don’t want our children in this category, “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:4)? There are many choices that we can make as we go through our days with our children that can affect these desired outcomes for those children. We have observed families who are making these decisions in raising their children and the positive results that are manifested in their children’s lives. It is a joy and blessing to our hearts as we observe these young people walking faithfully with the Lord Jesus. May we be mothers who will purposefully strive toward doing what we can do with and for our children so that they can become men and women who are lovers of God more than lovers of pleasures.