Do you have teenagers in your home? If you do, chances are that you have experienced tension in those teenage years.
The Bible says that our children are like arrows in a mighty warrior. Let’s look at Psalm 127:3-5, it says,
“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.”
I have been talking about parenting for a long time, not because I have it down–I don’t–not by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, the older I get and the older my kids get, (now we have a couple of them that are young adults and one of them is married and has a son of her own) I realize how much I really don’t know and how very dependent on the Lord I am.
I worry sometimes when I see so many parents making decisions for their teens in order to keep them “safe” rather than teaching them to depend on the Lord and seek them for themselves. We are not teaching them to develop their own set of internalized Biblical convictions: a set of standards that they derive from the Bible, so that when we are not around them, they are capable of making good, moral, and wise decisions.
We have been talking to parents awhile now about inconsistency in parenthood and consistency in your walk with God. Remember when I talked about the Firmly Planted Bible series that Jay and I wrote for families? The reason why Jay and I wrote those is because we are seeing so many families who are giving their kids rules but they are not directing them to Scripture. It’s easy to parent our children out of fear and not even realize we’re doing it.
Teenagers, especially, need to understand the boundaries that God has set for us in Scripture. As parents, we have to know God’s word.
I want to encourage you today to spend time with God. Read His Word for yourself. Often times, we do not know how to use the Bible to guide us in matters of everyday living, and our own lack of knowledge is keeping us from teaching our children to live in a Biblically wise way.
It’s easy for me to get tired and neglect my own time with the Lord. Maybe you can relate. If you are parenting your children from a spiritually dry place yourself, remember this: you can’t give them what you don’t have. If you don’t have a walk with the Lord, if you don’t have a clear understanding of God’s Word, or a love for His will, or a clear method of reasoning with Biblical convictions, your children won’t have that either.
We should be teaching our children to love, serve, and follow the Lord, so that they can stay away from the two spectrums that the world defines as religion. There’s a ditch on either side. We always tell our kids; the one ditch is legalism–where everything is bound by law and things done by rote. The other side of that is pervasiveness, where we say, “Well, it doesn’t matter, everyone’s truth is different.”
Both of those are not Biblical boundaries. A true believer decides that the Lord is in charge of his life and willingly lives inside those boundaries, he does not live testing them. Often times we find our children testing them and I’ve noticed some things in the life of our own children, and, frankly, in my own life, that our convictions are based on the truth of God’s word. We must have those convictions in our hearts, and in order for me to impart those to my children, and to do what the Bible says in Deuteronomy, to train my children to love and follow the Lord, I have to be doing that in my own life.
When you think about what the most important thing is you can do for your children, think of it in the context of how you can help them walk with the Lord. I am convinced that it is so important to define the concept of conviction and personal responsibility in our children within the framework of God’s Word.
So, take them back to His Word–over and over again. Don’t simply give them someone else’s sermon on CD. If they have a question that you don’t have an answer to, it’s okay to say, “You know what? I don’t have the answer to that. But God does. Let’s pray about it.”
Be a place where your kids can be a sounding board and get to know God’s word yourself in a personal way, because you can’t give your kids what you don’t have yourself.