Publication: One-to-One, Spring 2007
The richest family in the world is the one that has the joy of seeing their children walking with God. Of all the people with whom I have prayed, laughed, cried, and counseled, I cannot think of a single priority higher on the hearts and minds of parents than to know that their child has a living and healthy relationship with Jesus Christ.
I believe this desire that parents have comes from God Himself, Who calls and draws us to Himself by the Holy Spirit through Jesus. And, He gives children to us as parents so that we might train, discipline, form, and lead them towards a lifelong relationship with Him (see Genesis 18:19).
There is no one complete easily-packaged “formula” or recipe for raising spiritually healthy kids, but there are some essential ingredients that are necessary in the process. I would like to submit two tested and proven principles for “training up a child in the way that they should go” (see Proverbs 22:6).
The starting place for imparting wisdom to anyone is in the fear of the Lord. First, we must understand that we as parents cannot possess or share wisdom apart from God’s help. But beyond that, we want our children to have, at the earliest possible age, reverence for the Lord: His presence • His Word • His ways.
Scripture tells us that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 1:7) and “The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him” (Psalm 25:14). In other words, wisdom from God is given to those who have reverence and respect for the Lord, who approach Him in trust and humility, and who recognize His presence and Lordship over their daily lives. Without this, we cannot receive and walk in His wisdom and blessing.
We live in an age where casual indifference, over familiarity, hipness, jaded cynicism, irreverence, mockery, and sarcasm are the hallmarks of our culture. These traits are the enemies of a healthy relationship with God (and with other people, I might add). One cannot stroll or swagger into God’s presence. He is our Father and our friend, yes, but He is also a consuming fire, the awesome, holy, just, and majestic King of the universe.
While God desires fellowship with us, and He sings and dances over us with great joy, we must have a clear understanding of who He is and who we are in Him. Psalm 100:3 reminds us that “it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves.” Recognizing His authorship and Lordship over our lives opens up the windows of heaven for fellow ship with Him and blessing from Him.
One of the secrets the Lord reveals to those who have reverence for Him is how to have joyful fellowship with Him. In fact, the instructions are clear and fairly simple: “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations” (Psalm 100:4·5).
This Scripture reveals to us that gratitude to God is the entry point for our fellowship with Him. As the fear of the Lord is the starting place for receiving God’s wisdom, gratitude is the starting place for enjoying His presence.
Our generation is perhaps the most blessed in history in terms of material goods and opportunities, yet we are among the most impoverished in terms of true joy. I believe that ingratitude is at the root of this paradox. To be blunt: we are spoiled.
The first and most powerful form of training is by example. Are complaining and constant consumerism the driving forces in your home? Do you need a little more cheese to go with that whine? Children will not only repeat what they hear and see, but it will take deep root in their hearts and spring up over the course of their lifetimes.
I thank God that I had parents and Grandparents who modeled and taught reverence and thanksgiving as a lifestyle. Sometimes, we need to learn to not only “stop and smell the roses,” but to give thanks to the One who creates such beauty.
Scripture Reference: Genesis 18:19; Proverbs 22:6; Proverbs 1:7; Psalm 25:14; Psalm 100:3-5
STEPHEN SIMPSON is the Editor of One-to-One Magazine and the Director of CSM Publishing. In addition to publishing ministry, Stephen has served in leadership for churches and ministries in Costa Rica, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, and Michigan, as well as being the Senior Pastor of Covenant Church of Mobile (2004-2013). He continues to travel in ministry across North America and in other nations.