The breakdown we are witnessing in the family today is the result of decades of destructive cultural influences and wrong family choices. Can anything be done about it? Christian parents can certainly influence the next generation, and ultimately the culture, by leading their own family using biblically sound principles – proactive parenting.
But exactly what does that look like? As opposed to a “formula” approach, we have a mission as parents to instill certain character traits and biblical values into young lives using a “grace” approach. These internally directed principles come from Scripture as guidelines for developing Spirit controlled young people.
Instill Confidence in Your Children
Dr. Tim Kimmel, in his book Grace Based Parenting, states that every child has three basic inner needs: security, significance, and strength. On the security front, they can experience that security knowing they are accepted as part of their earthly family as well as God’s heavenly family. Paul addresses that in 2 Timothy 2:12 by reflecting on his confidence in God to do what he said he would do. Confidence grows out of reliance on God.
But confidence also comes from knowing what the expectations are in the family. Children who are allowed to set their own standards won’t. Without direction in life they will not become confident adults. A wise parent will set the standards and then express confidence in the child’s ability to make right choices that grow from the standards.
Instill Conviction in Your Children
When Jesus claimed to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6), the truth aspect went beyond his person to the written Word. A confident child will have developed convictions based upon Scripture truth. “Because God said so” has far more lasting impact than the parent saying, “because I said so.”
In our politically correct, unwisely tolerant culture truth is variable. “What is true for you may not be true for me” is the mantra repeated so often. That is the premise of situational ethics which are really no ethics at all. Daniel’s inflexible convictions caused him to be politically incorrect (Daniel 1:8). He respectfully declined to do what the king wanted because it violated his firmly held convictions.
Closely held convictions in young Timothy could be traced back to those taught him as a child. Paul acknowledged that early instruction in the Scriptures provided Timothy with his convictions (2 Timothy 3:15-15).
Instill Compassion in Your Children
Many of us want to give our children some things that we may not have had. That is fine, but be sure to include things that really matter. Confidence and conviction can be taught, but compassion must be caught. As your children see you ministering to others, that will have more far reaching impact than numerous lectures on how others should be treated. The care and compassion of the Samaritan Jesus spoke about two thousand years ago is still being talked about today (Luke 10:33-34).
Compassion is best demonstrated when we help those who have no influence or ability to reciprocate. That is why James 1:27 highlights widows and orphans as special objects of God’s care through us. They can’t pay back or forward.
Parenting is a big job but God’s grace is sufficient.