Proverbs 23:15-16, “My son, if thine heart be wise, my heart shall rejoice, even mine. Yea, my reins shall rejoice, when thy lips speak right things.”
There is no greater joy than to know that our children are walking with the LORD, and no greater sadness to know that they don’t. As God placed our children under our care, we were given a great honor to build into the lives of the next generation. It became our service unto God to raise them up in the admonition of the LORD so that when they grew, they would walk upright before Him.
So where do we start? At the beginning is a good place. From the moment the child will be ours to care for, whether by birth or adoption, we must begin praying for them. Don’t worry that you don’t know the child yet, God knows them and the Holy Spirit knows exactly what that child will need to grow into godly character. The moment you have the child in your arms, pray for them and proclaim a blessing upon their heads; asking the LORD for His will to be done in their lives. The moment the child enters your home, begin the instruction of God’s Word. Even before the little one can read, write, walk or talk, read God’s Word to them every day as you would during your own personal study time. As the child grows, they learn that these moments are holy and to be common practice for each day. As soon as the child can understand speech and return conversation, engage them with God’s Word. Tell them stories, and make them aware that God is all around us and wants to be a part of our lives. As the child continues to grow, minister to their spiritual needs and instruct them in righteousness, apply wisdom with discipline and correct them when they falter (just as our Father corrects us – Proverbs 3:11-13).
Share the gospel and plan of salvation early in your child’s life. Encourage them to spend time alone with God as you have demonstrated from their early years. Be available to your child to answer questions about salvation, stories in scripture, and difficult passages to understand. Admit to your child that you are a sinner saved by grace and that you too must submit to God and seek His forgiveness for your own sins. Lead your child to the LORD through your example and walk before God.
Now you may ask, “What if I didn’t do any of those things and now my children are older and are rebelling?” My answer, God can do anything and His Word is the most powerful gift we have available to build and restore relationships. Take the time to quietly sit before the LORD and talk to Him about how to build and restore what the enemy has stolen. Ask the LORD to show you how you must change and what areas of your own life need God’s discipline and correction. Seek to set right the things in your own life so that as you begin your ministry to your rebellious child, you will be covered with the Word of God. Before you begin your conversation with the rebellious child, spend many hours in prayer asking for God’s wisdom, peace, and sound mind. God may ask you to reach out to the child in ways that may not be familiar to you; if that’s the case ask God to help you. Seek wisdom from parents who are committed to walking before the LORD and ask their help through prayer and holding you to being accountable in your own walk before the LORD. Begin the restoration with your child. Be prepared to face a battle, for the enemy has clutched the rebellious heart and will not relinquish it easily (See Ephesians 6:10-18).
Again, you may be saying, “But what if I have no children?” You can be a ministry and powerful influence to children around you. You need only to ask God for His direction in serving His people. Step out of your comfort zones and be taught from His Word so that you can minister when the opportunities arise. You may be called to speak to the fragile hearts of preschoolers; or to that of teenagers; or even to those hearts of older children who have estranged relationships with their parents; perhaps they are adults who need an ear to hear and heart to minister to them.
It is the responsibility of each of us to minister to the next generation. Even if we have not been given children by birth or adoption, we can reach and impact the lives of many if we open our hearts to God’s leading. Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to everyone that asks you the reason for the hope that is in you (see 1 Peter 3:14-16).
Prayer: Father, we thank you for the wisdom you give your children; and we praise you for the children who grow in the admonition of your Word. LORD, we know that even if our children stray, you are faithful to bring them back to yourself if we have been faithful to raise them in the way they should go. LORD, help us to come along side of our brothers and sisters who are struggling with rebellion in their family and help us to encourage them with your Word and through prayer. Show us if there are children in our midst that need instruction, prayer and guidance. Equip us with your wisdom and grace to impact the lives before us. Great are the blessings of your people who walk righteously before you. We praise you! In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Connie Renfro ©