God has made each one of our children special in his or her own unique way. My role as a parent isn't helping my child be perfect or to become more like his or her peers. My main goal as a parent is to ensure my children are everything God made them to be.So what does "success" mean to the Christian parent? For me, it's to raise my kids in a manner that cultivates their hearts for God. The Apostle Paul told the early church to imitate him as he imitated Christ. I believe every parent is called to the same mission. Much of our pursuit as parents comes down to a modeling effect. Our children will likely follow where we've already been and one day head down the same road we're on right now. If we're following the footsteps of Christ, our children will be impacted. While it's not a guarantee that they'll take the narrow road with us, it's a maxim that God often uses to draw our children to Himself.
No—our child's salvation does not rest on our shoulders. Thank goodness for that. Yet, God gives each parent the precious and awesome privilege to shepherd that child’s heart for Him. It is a God-given assignment that should cause every parent to live a life of great prayer, purpose and constant preparation. Regardless of what may happen along your child's journey of faith—never give up. Just as God will never give up on us.
Here are 10 parenting traits or patterns that will help build a pathway for your child as he or she matures into the adult God desires them to be.
1. Teach them early and often when it comes to the gospel message. Children are sponges by design. It’s essential that we pour into them the truth found in God’s Word and the amazing grace that He has bestowed upon us. Our life goal is to create and sustain a gospel-saturated house.
2. Instill in your children that they are "fearfully and wonderfully" made by a God and that has a special purpose for their lives. Their self-esteem is not derived from man. Rather, their self-esteem is rooted to their understanding of how much their God loves them.
3. Be a student of your child's heart and get to know his or her special gifts and passions—then provide the opportunities for your child to grow in these areas. There is nothing sweeter to a parent than seeing our children love God. Second to that is to see our sons and daughters glorify God with their unique giftedness.
4. Dedicate time each day to acknowledge God in your lives. Our faith in Jesus is foremost a relationship and not a once a week event. Allow your children to find the joy of walking with Christ every day by being in His Word together and spending time in prayer on a regular basis.
5. Train your sons and daughters with the end goal in mind—raising them to become godly men and women. Boyhood and girlhood are not destinations in and of themselves. Rather, they are a part of longer journey that is leading our sons and daughters into becoming men and women. This inherently means that you will treat them differently. God made them distinctly "male and female." As parents, it's our calling to teach, model and grow them within the boundaries of their God-ordained sex.
6. Never let your anger drive your discipline—all disciplinary measures should be done in love. There are definite times in my life as a father that I wished I could have a "do over." Disciplining my kids in anger is one of them. Most of the time I get this right. When I do, it’s those times my heart and mind are before God. Ultimately, any wrong my child commits is foremost a sin against God and is an opportunity to deepen their relationship with Him. My role in disciplining my children is to help them understand their sin, it’s consequence, repentance, and the joy of receiving God’s unfailing forgiveness and grace.
7. Allow your household to be a refuge where mercy and grace are practiced each day. Yet, be sure not to cheapen God's grace by making little of the sins that Christ gave His life to pardon. Our children must never forget that the mercy and grace afforded to us by God is saturated with the blood of Jesus Christ.
8. Laugh and enjoy life in a way that uplifts others and be an example of being there when others have a need. Christ gave us the greatest example of what a true servant of God looks like—He came not to be served, but to serve and give his life for others.
9. Encourage children to desire and value hard work. Look for opportunities to serve others as a family—these have been some of my favorite times with my family. Teaching ownership and responsibility around one's work is an essential ingredient for any adult.
10. Always reinforce that our greatest life goal is to glorify God in all we do. When it's all said and done, this is the essence of life—to glorify God with our lives.