Have you ever thought about what kind of faith you want your child to possess when they move out from underneath your wings and out of your home? Have you dreamt about the young adult they will become? Have you prayed for their future?
In the young years of child-rearing, it can be easy for parents to simply manage behaviors and even make choices that we believe will bear the worldly fruit of “good manners,” “smart kid,” and “success.” We take these compliments to mean that we are doing an A+ job as a parent! And even take our own identity from these “results” (good or bad!).
But God has a different perspective and role for us parents. While we can and should pray for the fruits of the Spirit (see Galatians 5) to be evident in our children’s lives, we must remember that it is the fruit of the Spirit not the fruit of our parenting. The Holy Spirit is the one who bears fruit in our children’s lives, not us. Results are God’s job. So what does God call us, as parents to do?
We, as parents, are called to sow spiritual seeds (see Matthew 13) into our children’s lives. Our job is to be faithful stewards and create time and space to sow spiritual seeds. What spiritual seeds do you possess in your seed bag? And how do we plant those into your child’s heart, in age-appropriate ways?
Many parenting experts will give you tips and tricks for how to manage your child’s behavior and promise certain results. And generally these tips work, for a time! But ultimately, in the long-term, we want to cultivate our children’s hearts to bear spiritual fruit and a desire to obey the God of the Bible. They cannot bear spiritual fruit unless we are planting spiritual seeds. How do we keep this perspective, doing our part and giving space for the Lord to do His? What seeds has the Lord given us to sow and how do we do that, practically?
- Possessing spiritual seeds to sow (fill your cup first)
- Praying your child’s heart is “good soil”
- Make space and time to have age-appropriate spiritual conversations
- Introduce spiritual mentors to join in the work
First, fill your own cup! You cannot expect to have spiritual conversations with your children if you are not having your own spiritual discipleship time. Join a Bible Study, start a new devotional, read through your Bible in a year. Whatever your goal, find some accountability and start. You will never grow spiritually if you don’t invest the time. Reading the Bible daily will change you from the inside out: your worldview will begin to shift to a biblical worldview, your dreams and desire will begin to reflect Christ’s, and your parenting will be filled with more love and grace. Starting my #7for7forGod in January 2020 was the best thing I have ever done! It is just like the flight attendant says: “put on your own mask before you put on your child’s.” You can’t give what you do not have.
Pray for your children regularly. God wants to work in your family’s life because the family is where He planted the first ideas of reaching the whole world. Ideally you and your spouse are praying together for your children, but if that isn’t an option, include a prayer time with your daily God Time. Pray while you drive your children to their various activities. Pray before meals and before bedtime. Whenever you pray, do it regularly! Ask the Lord to till the soil of their heart and prepare them for what He wants to do in their lives.
Start here! A farmer doesn’t jump out into an untilled or weedy field without doing the hard work first. Take the time to till the soil, pull the weeds and prepare. In the next article we will talk more about having a regular, consistent, and simple Family Devotional Time.