We have four children and we would like them to become ministers in the gospel and dedicate their lives to Christ. What could we do as parents to form this vision in each of them?
I am glad that you asked me this question, because most parents, even Christians, do not form any vision for their children and leave them completely to fate. So it happens that their children accept bad teachings and become exactly what parents would never have wanted their children to be. Here are some tips I want to give you in this regard:
- Do not limit yourself only to meeting the material needs of children
Today there are many parents who do not meet the basic needs of children for food and clothing, because they do not care about their children and seek only to fulfill their personal pleasures. Others make efforts to provide children with education that will then provide them with a “decent” life from a material point of view. If they do this they think they have done everything necessary for their children. False. As parents, we have a duty to give them the right direction, to lead them to eternity and to ensure a beautiful future there. Therefore, if you somehow thought until now that you did everything as a parent by providing your children with food, clothing, schooling and entertainment, stop thinking so.
- Do not teach children to seek personal pleasure in life
I’ve also noticed that if the parents had a harder time in their childhood or youth, they seek to relieve their children of any difficulties and to make their whole lives pleasurable. This is a deception, for if a man in his life seeks only personal pleasures, he will not be able to be successful on this earth, and, moreover, will do nothing for eternity. Let no one misunderstand me, I do not mean that we have to artificially make life difficult for children. Not at all. But we must teach the children that above the pleasure of life on this earth is the eternal happiness we will have in the Kingdom of God, and to this we must continually strive and aim.
- Teach children God’s Word
In Deuteronomy it is written:
These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. And you shall repeat them diligently to your sons and speak of them when you sit in your house, when you walk on the road, when you lie down, and when you get up. You shall also tie them as a sign to your hand, and they shall be as frontlets on your forehead. You shall also write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9 NASB)
The most important thing is to teach children the Word of God, because only this gives them a real perspective on life on this earth and on eternity. If we do not teach them the Word of God, they will have no foundation and will be lost in all sorts of false teachings that they will hear from kindergarten, then at school, then at college, and so on. If we teach them the Word of God, they will learn the truth about life on earth and life after the grave. Having an understanding of this reality, they will be able to accept and choose the right direction they will receive from their parents and from those who will teach them healthy teaching.
Timothy’s mother and grandmother knew how to do this work. Even though the boy’s father was Greek, that is, a pagan, Eunice (mother) and Lois (grandmother) knew and insisted on teaching him the Holy Scriptures from an early age until he became an adult. Thus they formed in Timothy the most beautiful character, and from his youth he dedicated his life to Christ and the preaching of the gospel, and so he served with Paul. He was quite different from the young people and most Christians of his day, for they sought their own benefits and not those of Christ, but Timothy served with Paul as a son with his father, as a servant (Philippians 2). If we teach our children and show them such an example in us, they will do the same.
- Notice the inclinations and abilities that God has placed in your children
In the book of Proverbs of Solomon it is written:
Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he grows older he will not abandon it. (Proverbs 22:6 NASB)
This verse refers to the need to teach the child the way of God, but also to the fact that we must observe as a parent what are the abilities and inclinations of our children. Then, after we have noticed, we need to help the child understand how he can use these inclinations and abilities to advance the gospel and how the child could already begin to do so. If he has musical abilities, he can start singing at church and at Christian events such as evangelism, camps, etc. If he is a painter he could use these abilities to produce Christian graphic materials. Any inclination will have its application in the work of the gospel and it is our duty, as parents, to look for where these qualities can best be used to bring the richest fruit to the Kingdom of Heaven and to help the child get involved there.
- Tell the children about investing their lives for eternity
Our children hear from school, from friends, from TV, internet, etc. that other people dream of making as much money as possible and want to invest their lives in it. If we do not talk enough to our children, then, while listening to these sources, it will not be long before they begin to fit the image of the present century and think the same. They will seek to go to other countries to make a lot of money or they will choose to attend good universities in the country or abroad just to make a “good” earthly career or to be materially rich. We must continually talk to them about heavenly values and how we can invest our lives on this earth to gather treasures in heaven, as Jesus taught us when he said:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21 NASB)
- Invest in the development of God’s abilities for children
If you have noticed certain qualities and inclinations that God has placed in your children, then you will have to make the effort to develop these qualities. If he has a penchant for programming, then find a good programming school where the child wants to go and learn. If he has a penchant for music, then you will have to buy him the necessary instrument and take him to the best teacher. If he is an athlete, you will look for the best club and coach to go there. I think you understand that the list does not end here, and you need to see what the qualities are, how the child will be able to use them in advancing the gospel, and then help him develop those qualities.
- Give them a beautiful example of living
In order to give children the right direction in life, you must follow a good direction as a parent. Do not be mistaken, believing that all your life you can run after the goods of this world, for pleasures, for money, for an earthly career and believe that if you talk to your child he will understand and choose to follow the things above. This is very unlikely to happen. The number of children who saw their parents doing bad things and chose to do differently is too small. Children do what they see when it contradicts what they hear. But if children see what they hear, then they are much more likely to follow the advice and example they receive. Examine your direction in life and how you invest your time and effort in advancing the gospel. Would you like your child to do the same? If not, then you need to stop urgently and choose the right direction to be a worthy example to follow for your child. Do this today. Don’t procrastinate.
- Invite them to adhere to their parents’ vision for the gospel
It upsets me when I see how the sons of darkness show more wisdom in some things than the sons of light. Karl Marx did much harm to mankind through the works he wrote and led much of mankind to hell. There are many who still follow his teaching. Although he lived a miserable life and preached a diabolical teaching, he knew how to motivate his daughters so much that they all worked with him as a team to spread communist ideas. They did this until they committed suicide under the influence of those ideas. It saddens me to see how Christian parents do not think of forming a team with their children and involving them in the same work that they do. Not all Christians, but there are many who work in the gospel, but do not involve their children and they, growing up, take a different direction in life. Let us be wise and understand that our first disciples are and must be our children, and we must prepare them for the work of the gospel. From an early age we must entrust them with tasks according to their power, as they grow up to become collaborators in the gospel and to do the holy work together.
In conclusion, I want to give you a practical task. Retreat to a quiet place to meditate. Write on a separate sheet the name of each child God has given you and answer the following questions next to each name:
- What are his inclinations and qualities?
- How can these inclinations and qualities be useful in the work of spreading the gospel?
- What have we invested so far in developing these qualities?
- What truths in the Holy Scriptures should I teach this child more and why?
- What can he accomplish for Christ and the gospel while he lives his life on earth?
- What do I need to offer this child so that he or she can reach his or her full potential in the gospel?
- What do I urgently need to tell him about his future in eternity?
- What do I urgently need to tell him about his future on this earth?
- How does this child work with me as a team?
- How can I better involve this child in our team now?
- How can this child be involved in our team when he grows up?
- What concrete steps will I take regarding this child and when?
It is very important to think carefully, to give clear and complete answers to these questions and not to leave any of the children out of this analysis. Then, once you have written down the concrete steps you will take, write a deadline next to each step and start acting. Redeem the time, for the days are evil.
Translated by Didina Vicliuc