You can read all the “how to” parenting books in the world. You can write down every “secret to success” and check each of them off religiously. But the best way to lead Christ-followers has never changed: by your example.
“Remember who you are, and whose you are.” These were my father’s words whenever he dropped us off. My father was, and continues to be, an excellent example of what an earthly parent should be.
As I struggle to find the best way to raise my own boys into godly men, I am struck by Psalm 145:3–4, “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts” [emphasis added].
I see this as a key to good parenting. God wants parents, especially fathers, to pass on our knowledge of God’s wonderful works to our children. This takes more than playing catch in the backyard or reading bedtime stories (both highly recommended activities, by the way).
Good parenting requires intentional, continuous instruction in the Scriptures: “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up (Deuteronomy 6:7).” Passing on God’s love and knowledge is a lifelong process, and it is never too early to start.
The best and most basic way to train up Christ-followers is by example. Children naturally look to their parents as examples, and we are called to raise our children to understand and yearn for godliness.
When my children are around (especially the younger ones), they are watching how I treat my wife; how I react to the guy who cuts me off on the highway; how I treat the checkout clerk at the grocery store. The more I consider the weightiness of my every action, the more difficult it seems.
Like Paul, I lament, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Then I am reminded of the answer, “I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:24–25)” I must be a true Christ-follower before I can truly lead my children.
My dad has a verse on his desk that says, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 4, ESV). Although, ultimately, the decision of whether to follow Christ is theirs, if my children are to end up walking in the truth, I must accept my God-given responsibility. I must be their example, and it is my God-given privilege to teach my boys how to become men who will “praise His works” to the next generation.
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