Tips To Raise Godly Children In an Ungodly World:
By the grace of God upon my ministry as a ‘child evangelist’, I shall be sharing some basic principles with scriptural references on the subject: ‘Raising Godly children in an ungodly world.’
1. Prophesy On Your Children: > Jeremiah: 1 vs. 4-5
In the book of Jeremiah: the Lord said: “I choose you before I gave you life, and before you were born I selected you to be a prophet to the nations.”
An apostolic preacher: ‘Rev. Mrs Funke Ewonsho’ of *(4) Word of faith Christian Centre, Kano-Nigeria once said: ‘what you don’t plan about, affects what you plan...”
God told Jeremiah that he knew him before his existence! In other words the Lord had a picture in mind the kind of ‘prophet’ Jeremiah would become before he was even conceived. As true parents, created in the image of God, we should have a glorious picture of the type of children we want to have before we bring them forth. It will be foolish to build a house without having a picture of the kind of structure we want to erect.
For us to raise Godly children in a society like ours requires us to constantly prophesy good thing over our children. We have to speak good things concerning our children even when all they are doing is contrary to our expectations. Our words are very powerful.
That our children are not ‘academically performing well’ does not justify us to call them ‘dumb or yam heads’. Maybe they are not as ‘brave’ as we want them to be. I strongly believe that when we keep ‘speaking well about them, whatever we say shall come to pass in their lives. Remember we are spirit beings. The words that we say exist in the spiritual realm. Thus the picture we have about our children is what they display.
Back to what I earlier quoted: ‘what you don’t plan about, affects what you plan.’
It is not good enough to have a mental picture about our children; growing up and becoming successful in life. E.g. Doctors, Lawyers, Professors, Ministers, without us properly laying the right foundation for them from childhood. How much have you spiritually labored for them to achieve this?
We can’t afford to fail in equipping them, spiritually, emotionally, materially, and financially. For if we do then it would surely affect what we mentally plan in our head. Proverbs 12:14 states: “Your reward depends on what you say and what you do; you will get what you deserve...”
We could have ‘mental plan in our head’ to retire early and enjoy the fruit of our labor (having raised our children to maturity or society standard)…or to witness our sons getting married, or …giving our daughters hand out in marriage. However, when we come short of making concrete plans for them in their early stage, then the ‘mental plan’ in our head may be aborted by what we didn’t plan. For instance: such dreams could be shattered if our sons and daughters become ‘running away kids’ and end up becoming school drop outs, alcoholic, or prostitutes. But glory to God! Based on his word, we can prophesy on the type of kids we want to have even before we are married. What ever we speak concerning our children hang over their heads, whether negative or positive.
* * *
2. Share Intimacy with Your Children
“Teach your children how they should live
and they will remember it all their lives.”
You’ll be shock to discover that most of the challenges or problems that we adult face everyday; perhaps in our place of work, business, trade, financial crisis, etc. A word from our children may be all the answers that we need. Have you ever considered sharing your burdens with your children? Have you ever asked your child to lay hands on your head or hold your hand and share a simple prayer for your difficulties? Once I was down with fever and I asked my nine year old niece: ‘Rosemary’ to lay hand on my head. She did and prayed. And I got healed!
For us to raise Godly children in this age, we must share close intimacy with them! Let our children have the boldness to tell us the truth without nursing the fear of the punishment we’ll afflict on them. Our children should be proud to say ‘papa, it’s my turn to watch TV’ because they shares a friendly relationship with us.
For instance, you should make them to understand when you are free for them and when you need to stay alone. Children are bond to abide by your principles if you also respect theirs. A child’s toy is precious to him, just as Daddy’s hammer is important to him. A child’s difficult homework is a burden to his mind. Just as mama worries that the food in the house is running out and papa has no job.
Bring yourself to their level and talk ‘one and one’ with them. Of course we know that they are children and could act silly at time. Nevertheless, children are naturally very sensitive. They know those who love them. They know those who play with them. They know those who are concerned about them. And they know when it is not right to run around you.
When we neglect them for any reason, the world is waiting to show them ‘love’. And we all know that the kind ‘ero love’ that the world offers has string attached to it. It is conditional. A little to the left and to the right! Would you believe that children talk about their homes at school? And they don’t hide it. If their parents openly disagree regularly, they share how miserable their home is. Some go to the extend of telling their teachers about their feelings. Imagine a situation where our children should feel more at home with their schoolmates and teachers rather than their parents. May the Lord Help us out!
With good intimacy, even while we discipline them when they have done something wrong. They do understand. It is funny that a lot of parents these days discipline their children for little offences that they could easily have overlooked by strictly informing them to stay clear of the area. For instance: ‘a child wakes up in the morning and he didn’t brush his mouth before he ate his food. It wouldn’t really be constructive when we ‘knock his head’ or bombard her with names to make them feel guilty. Rather we could have used such channel to explain to them the health benefit for cleaning their mouth every morning. “Tell the child that his mouth will smell bad if he fails to brush in the morning and that settles it.” The world of a child is dramatic; it sees words in ‘pictures.’
* * *
3. Teach Them God’s Ways
‘parents, do not treat your children in such a way as to make them angry.
Instead, bring them up with Christian discipline and instructions.’
It is not possible to raise Godly children without teaching them the ways of the Lord.
The Bible states in ‘Ecl.12-13’: “the whole duty on man is to fear God and to keep to his commandments.” Fearing God goes further than the literary fear of his alphabetical name “GOD” rather having reverence for him by abiding to his principles and God’s principles are clearly connected with his ‘word’.
This is one of the fundamental principles in raising Godly children in an ungodly world; we must teach our children the ways of the Lord. To respect every word of God, in respective of the difficulties that might come their way. Here are five ‘distinguished children’ from the scripture who did not compromise their stand in the midst of ungodliness.
1. The three Jewish kids: Shedrach, Meshach, and Abednego, refused to bow before the god of Babylon because they have been raised from their childhood to bow to only one God. ‘The great I am!’ Even in the midst of the threat of death they did not mind their adversaries condition to pardon them if they would bow a ‘little’ after their first disobedience.
2. Jacob raised Joseph with reverence for God’s principles, and that brought him into his destiny. No wonder that amidst of the opportunity presented to him by ‘Potiphar’s wife and the suffering he went through in Egypt, he did not compromise his stand. He forgave his brothers for what they did to him.
3. David-raised his son Solomon in God’s way. The Bible states that he was the wisest king in Israel. He built the temples of God to fulfill his father’s heart desire. (He could have diverted the building materials that his father assembled for him for different purpose. E.g. By building a ‘modern palace’) When God asked him what he wanted most. He answered that he desired to have wisdom (meaning fear…). The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.
4. Samuel was raised to respect the laws of the lord that was why he never was a partaker to what the son’s of Eli were doing.
5. Esther was also taught to respect the principles of God. The Bible gave account that she did whatever her uncle Mordecai told her to do. She obeyed him. That was why she was bold enough to declare that ‘if I perish I perish!’
We must inculcate into our children’s mind what God values.
* * *
4. LOVE GOD:
‘Israel remember this! The lord –and the lord alone=is our God. Love the lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Never forget this command that I am giving you today. Teach them to your children…” -Deuteronomy 6:4-9
There is certainly no easy short cut to God, to raise Godly children in our present world if ‘parents’ do not Love God first. To love God means to honor him and hate all forms of evil! Proverbs 8-13: “…To honor the lord is to hate evil. I hate pride and arrogance, evil ways and false words.( Says the Lord of Host)
The Book of Roman 2 vs. 17-24
‘What about you? You call yourself a Jew (…an elder, a believer or …a father… or mother) you depend on the law (The Word Of God) and boast about God. You know what God want’s you to do, and you have learnt from the law to choose what is right; you are sure that you are a guide for the blind (Children, younger ones), a light for those who are in darkness, an instruction for the foolish (Hey! don’t our children act foolish at times?) and a teacher for the ignorant. You are certain that in the law you have the full content of knowledge and of the truth. You teach others-why don’t you teach yourself? You preach, “Do not steal!” But do you yourself steal? You say do not commit adultery – but do you commit adultery? You detest idols-but do you rob temples? You boost about having God’s law-But do you bring shame on God by breaking his law (his words...) the scripture says, “because of you Jews (fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts,) the gentiles (unbelievers) speak evil of God…
* * *
5. Honor And Discipline Your Children
“Discipline your children
and you can always be proud of them.
They will never give you reasons to be ashamed.”
Children would always be children! Give a child a packet of biscuit and ask for one piece from the same pack and the child will selfishly exclaim: “No it’s my own!” And should you succeed to persuade him to part with one. Then you’re in for endless claims! When I was a growing up as a child, one of my uncles ‘trickily’ collects the monetary gift that I and my sisters were given. He told us then that he’ll deposit it in his bank which he calls ‘bank Udeh!’ (Of course he was busy spending it) I was one of his depositors. Afterwards every time he came to our house then, I will immediately trouble him for my money. He kept paying back by buying what ever I wanted as a child. (Candy, Ice cream, etc) It got to a point that he told me that my money was long finished. But I was a child, so I kept insisting...I want more! I remember offering another of my money which someone gave to me and he refused to accept it. Till this day, he still shares the story whenever we meet.
To raise Godly children in this dispensation, we need to honor and discipline them. When our children achieve good grades, it is just enough to praise them but to honor them with good things. Toys, Bicycles, New cloths, etc. On their birthdays even when we can’t afford to celebrate it, we need to mark it by doing something peculiar for them. It could be as small as ‘taking them out for a new hair cut or planting the girl’s hair’. Such little gesture matters a lot to children.
Many times I have heard mothers telling their kids that they’ll get ‘something’ for them if they behave well and they ended up not keeping to their words. I have heard fathers telling their children they’ll buy them ‘a new bike’ should they come ‘first in school’ and when the kids do, the fathers disappoints them. What we sow is what we’ll reap. If we don’t keep to our words, our children wouldn’t keep their also. It will be quite unjust to expect our children to be children with good character when their parents aren’t. Proverbs states: ‘…never say things that aren’t true.’ Let our yes be yes’.
We should learn to appreciate our children whenever they deserve recognition. Another example is when our kid stop wetting bed, there is nothing wrong as ‘honoring them’ with a little gift and praising them before the family. It may sound ridiculous to our adult mind. But this is similar to an adult, changing from a bad habit (eg. A mother who had been able to conquer her ‘abusive or gossip tongue).’ It really amazes me that we want to discipline our children when they do wrong and do not want to honor them when they deserve to be honored. In those days when I was still a child in the primary school, my father showered us with gift as story books when I dance well before him. Amen!
* * *
‘Correction and discipline are good for children. If they have their own way, they will make their mothers ashamed of them. –Proverbs 29:15
I don’t know why King Solomon used the phrase ‘they will make their mothers ashamed of them.’ But I am convinced that it is because *(5) mothers share more intimacy with their children. Women by nature have closer ties with their off spring. God made it that way. That is why when they are successful it is their mother that is first happy and proud about it.
*(5) (read my poem: ‘Child Of My Love’ at: www.faithwriters.com)
There are ‘three ways’ I read from a book that I borrowed from a pastor friend on how to discipline children. (I can’t remember the title of the book now but I never forgot those three principles). They are:
1. Afflicted consequences
2. Natural consequences
3. And Logical consequences.
1. Afflicted consequences involves –caning, punishing, and spanking children.
2. Natural consequences involves- when your child tries to play with ‘match or fire’ and he or she gets hurt. Or running after a bike and he falls.
3. Logical Consequences involves –Your child disobeyed you by entering your room. And you earlier warned him of the consequences if he disobeyed. May be you said: ‘I’ll seize your bicycle.’ Then do seize it.
Before we discipline our children we need to assess their shortcomings before taking any disciplinary actions against them.
“If you do don’t punish your son, you don’t love him.
If you do love him, you will correct him. –Proverbs 13:24’
It will be absolutely unfair to out rightly pull your child’s ear because he wants attention in the public. When you didn’t listen to him.
There are circumstances that your child behaves naughty; perhaps he angrily throws his food away because you taste it. Or she drank from a guest’s refreshment and you threatened to spank them for such acts. But afterwards you changed your mind. That will encourage them the more knowing your threats are empty.
Why Do Children disobey their parents?
Tell your children not to torch the TV or CD player, or enter your bedroom in your absence and just as you’re leaving. They remember they left their home work exercise book inside. Or one of them will dare the other to play the appliances. You don’t have to teach your child how to ‘abuse’ somebody before he or she knows how to throw his fingers wide. It is the ‘adamic natures’ in them that is at work and remember the spirit of rebellion is hanging around too. The earlier we realize that our children are also the target of the enemy, the better for us to be equipped and ‘battle’ for them spiritually.
6. The Realities Of The World
In Proverbs 22: 6. Solomon wrote:
‘Teach children how they should live,
and they will remember it all their lives.
(i) Traditions And Cultural Values:
Raising Godly children also requires us to teach them to value our customs and traditions that do not contradict the principles of God. We Nigerians have respect for our people. We show respect to our seniors. We appreciate our elders. We do not sit on a cushion while our seniors are standing. We don’t accept things by our left hand. Not answering when an elder is talking. And we do respect the traditions of others. For instance; the Hausa’s don’t permit people into their inner rooms.
(ii) Law Abiding:
Our kids should be encouraged to be law abiding. To respect the law of the land. E.g.: Examination rules, traffic rules, Labor rules, Government rules. Medical rules, etc.
(iii) Know their Heritage:
Our children should know about their heritage and be proud about it. Tell them the story about your family back ground, tribe, people, country, etc. That way they won’t feel inferior about their status. (Rich, Color, height…etc your eyes are like your grand fathers. Proverd. 17:6 states ‘Grand parents are proud of their grand children, just as children are proud of their parents.)
(iv) Moral Values:
The law of ‘sowing and reaping’ is applicable to all aspects of life. Teach them to be appreciative and say ‘thank you’ when they are offered compliments, gifts, it doesn’t matter how little it is. Teach then how to talk and behave well in the society. (I remember one child saying he deserve to be giving biscuit because he contributed money into the children church offering) Teach them to have good Home and table manners. Teach them to respect the view of others. And be ready to apologize when they are at fault. Teach them to be good givers…like the little boy who willingly gave his fish and bread to the Lord Jesus which he used to feed the 5000 crowd.
(v) The Vanity Of the world:
It’s true that God wants us to be fruitful in whatever that we lay our hand on. However,
Knowledge, Fame, Success, wealth, material possession, power, and all the things that we desire to acquire does not really matters to God. What the Lord desire is ‘our heart!’
In 1 John 2: 15, he wrote: ‘Do not love the world or anything that belongs to the world. If you love the world, you do not love the father. Everything that belongs to the world-what the sinful self desires, what people see and want, and everything in this world that people are so proud of-none of this comes from the father. It all comes from the world. The world and everything in it that people desire is passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever...”
We need to explain to our children how the system of the world works. What is the system of the world? The world is a vicious circle! Ones we were babies, (under the protection of our parents) then when we reach the age of schooling, we were enrolled. From ‘the primary’ to ‘the secondary’ and ‘then higher institution’. After our graduation, we started to labor at our job. Later we got married and we also started to raise our own family and…our children start all over like we did. ‘Vanity’ according to the great philosopher: King Solomon. The quest for man’s desire never dies as long as he breaths. For after all our ‘Victories and Losses’, the final destination lies in standing before the great throne. Which is the reason for this article: ‘To raise Godly children in an ungodly world’ to prepare them to hold on to ‘faith’ from now till eternity.
* * *
I shared this message: ‘How to raise Godly Children In an ungodly world’ on Saturday: the 30th of October, 2004. at a ‘Breakthrough Intersession (BIT)’ program, organized by ‘Enternal Life Bible Church, Gusau, Zamfara State.