October 16th, 2013
As a Communication major in college, one of the first things that I learned in my class work was that in order to effectively communicate, you must know your audience. Therefore in order to biblically inform and prepare our children, we must first understand them. There are three apparent things about children that we must take note of in order to effectively inform and prepare them biblically. These three things are that children were created for a relationship with GOD, that they are natural interpreters and that their behavior flows out the heart.
First, children were created for a relationship with GOD. They were made to know, love, serve and obey Him. We have all been created like this. If we are not loving, serving and obeying GOD, then our hearts will quickly find something or someone else to love, serve and obey. This is worship. Every person is a worshiper. The question we must answer is what do they worship. This is easy to detect through observance. We must take notice of the things that they do, what they desire, the choices they make, the relationships they pursue – these are all indications of where their worship is directed. Our children, like us, will worship and serve GOD or they will worship and serve something else. Those are the only options; see Romans 1.18-32 for proof.
Secondly, children are natural interpreters. This means that children will in fact make assessments and conclusions about life, right or wrong. GOD says that there is a right way and a wrong way to think about life, and that whatever you think about life will shape the way you act. You may want to read that statement again to grasp the weight of it. It’s saying that if our children think incorrectly about the things of life, this will cause them to act out in a way that is harmful to them and even worse, unpleasing to the LORD. For instance, I have dealt with so many students that have naturally interpreted their life circumstances as being that no one loved them, including GOD. These students had incorrectly interpreted the pain in their life and determined that they were unloved by all of those around them. This false interpretation led them to accept a pseudo-love in place of an agape love, which they so desperately needed. This is just one common scenario. The way that we combat this is to do everything we can to get our children to think out loud. This will allow us to see their thought pattern and correct any kind of erroneous interpretations that they might have derived. This happened to me recently with my three year old son. I was busy in the kitchen and had my back to him. Unaware that he was sitting right behind me, I accidently stepped on him. My mind was focused on my task at hand and so I didn’t think much of it at first. I then turned around to find him walking away slowly with his lower lip sticking out. I then engaged him, telling him that I was sorry that I stepped on him. That didn’t seem to help much. I then asked him, why he was so sad and what was he thinking. He gave me his interpretation of the event, that I intentionally hurt him and was ignoring him. I quickly corrected the misunderstanding and gave him some attention and love and we went on to have a good time that evening. That is a simple story but it displays the importance of allowing your children to reveal how they interpret things. This is vitally important as it allows you to insert truth into flawed thinking. We must biblically inform our children. This is done by inserting the Word of GOD. Study 2 Timothy 3.16-17 for more on how this is done. Without the truth of GOD’s Word, we cannot interpret life properly.
The final thing to understand is that children’s behavior flows out of their heart. So many people miss this and strive towards the goal of getting their children to do what is right. Many accomplish this through control tactics that are tiresome, unloving and have only short term effects. I am not saying that students don’t need boundaries, as they desperately do! But these boundaries are not our end goal, they may function as a means to an end, but never the end. The goal remains that they have hearts for the LORD. After all, the thoughts and motives of the heart shape the way people act. Matthew 12.34 says this best, “for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” It’s simple math really, right beliefs plus good desires equals right behavior. It is your responsibility to instill these right beliefs straight from the Scriptures. This is the easy part. The hard part is constantly seeking our children’s hearts to ensure that they have good and righteous desires. Their nature, like ours will not be for good and righteous things. This is where we make war for them. We fight for them. We love them. We shepherd them. This is not easy or comfortable, but parenting was never promised to be so. This is the family that GOD has intended for us to be.