It’s that time of the year again when I tally up how many piano lessons I’ve taught for the year, not wanting to cheat Uncle Sam! As I add up each student’s lessons, it is not surprising that the ones who had the most lessons are the best students. As a teacher, I’ll take diligence over talent any day! How sad it is when I have a talented student who will not apply himself. The talent is wasted, I am frustrated as a teacher, and the student will never know the joy of success.
As a parent, are there guidelines that will increase our children’s opportunities for success?
Absolutely! However, when we see our own shortcomings magnified in our children, discouragement can be overwhelming. How do we break the chain of unwanted attributes instead of passing them on to our kids? You’re probably not going to want to hear this, but the changes must first be made in your life before there is any hope of change happening in your child’s life. I’ve been prompted to address this issue for a number of reasons.
First, no one likes to see failure. Yes, we all fail at one time or another—that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m concerned with those believers who are failing life because of an unwillingness to change! Bad habits are killing marriages and destroying children, and if the pattern of bad choices is not broken, lives will suffer the consequences.
Second, I just read a journal that a young lady kept while mentoring my daughter in her teen years. As I read the prayer requests, shared devotions, and trials which filled my girl’s life fourteen years ago, and I saw her determination to make right choices, I praise the Lord for what He did in her life. She was never a rebellious child (although to hear her talk, you would think so!). She had the same struggles that any teen girl faces; however, she had several prize weapons in her arsenal against Satan which I believe are worth mentioning, in hopes that it will be a help to you.
- Godly parents—at the risk of that sounding like self-praise, let me explain. As of this summer, the last of our little chicks flew the coop. Our oldest will be thirty this year. When I ask them why they turned out right (aka: walking with the Lord, loving Him, and being faithful to Him and His church)—an accomplishment that often fails in pastors’ families—they will say something like this: We saw that your faith was genuine. You practiced what you preached. That is HUGE in parenting. What would you have to change to make it be true in your home?
- Godly friends and mentors—I praise God for this dear single, missionary, young woman who took the time on her furlough to help our daughter grow in her walk with the Lord. If you are single, you have a wonderful opportunity to pour yourself into others that you wouldn’t necessarily have if you were married. As empty-nesters, we also get another shot at being a godly influence on other lives that we may not have had the time for while raising our own kids. AND, if you are being a success in your parenting, you be the Kool-Aid Mom! Having other kids into your home can be your opportunity to mentor without adding extra time to your already packed schedule.
- Devotions—reading our daughter’s journal brought it home to me once again. If our kids are not reading their Bibles and seeking to hear from God, how will they ever grow spiritually? She attributes her established routine of daily Bible reading to Sunday School and our Wednesday night Children’s Club which stressed devotions. After twenty-five years of teaching children, I can almost tell you which children will be successful in their Christian walk and who will not, just by the habits which are developed during childhood! AND, if we are not reading our Bibles and seeking to hear from God, how will WE ever grow spiritually? Also, beware: Blogs are great, books are wonderful, radio programs are helpful, but you MUST be in the Word of God for it to make a difference. God wants to meet with you personally, not second-hand.
There are so many other things that influence our children, but if we strip it all away and stick to the basics, God will work in our lives and in the lives of our kids. As I watch our children now raising their own children, I cannot thank the Lord enough that all His promises are true!
He will be found when we seek Him with all our hearts (Jeremiah 29:13). He does draw near us when we draw near to Him (James 4:8). I can do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13). Satan does flee when I resist (James 4:7), and he can’t tempt me to do anything without God providing an escape hatch (1 Corinthian 10:13)!
But best of all is 3rd John 1:4: I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. It is a promise that drives me to my knees in prayer, softens my heart to yield to the Master, and gives me the courage to change to be the example my children still need to see. May it do the same for you, for truly, there is no greater joy!