Ephesians 6:4 says "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord."
How do we bring our children up in the training and instruction of the Lord? How do we give our influence more weight when it matters most? How do we teach them the importance of a personal walk with Christ? I think it depends on one very important factor.....relationship!!
A relationship that begins when our children are young. A relationship that invests time in the daily lives of our children. A relationship that looks for teachable moments in the every day interactions. Its like an apprenticeship. It begins while the learner is still young and in his learning process. An apprentice observes every move and follows his teacher's instruction. The apprentice learns much more than a profession, for he is being taught a whole way of life.
This concept of learning a whole way of life is inherent in "bring them up". Through word and personal example parents will nurture their children and teach them what it means to live for Christ in a practical, daily sense. Parents can nourish and replenish, guide and coach their children.
As a mom to teenagers, I see everyday how vitally important my relationship with them can be. They are beginning to make major life decisions and I want my influence to have weight. I want them to listen when I give them guidance. I don't want to guilt them or beat them over the head with the Bible. I want my influence to be a natural outflow of our relationship that has been built through the early years of their lives.
If I want my influence to continue to have weight when they leave for college, start a career, choose a mate and raise their own children, then I must make sure that I'm doing what I can today to strengthen my relationship with them. And that is not an easy task....especially when the teenage years become difficult and they ignore my influence.
When the days get difficult, I have to continue to point them to Jesus in every area of their life. I have to continue to speak into their lives even if they don't seem to be listening. And most importantly I have to deal with my own heart. I have to make sure that it is focused on God and that I am parenting His way not mine!! I must depend on Christ's guidance to help me speak wisdom when needed and be quiet when needed.
I have missed many opportunities along the way to strengthen the relationships with my kids. I have allowed circumstances in life to distract me and have many times ignored the teachable moments because I was just too tired. However, I am thankful for the relationships that I'm building with my kids.
We have lots of struggles. There are good days and bad days and even really really bad days. But through it all, my desire is to bring my children up to love God, love others and serve God wholeheartedly.
When they become adults with families of their own, I want them to be excited to load their families up to come visit me and their Dad. I want there to be mutual honor and respect between all of us. I don't want to undermine their marriages or their roles as parents, even when we disagree on how things are done.
With that goal in mind, I have to be intentional about building relationship every single day. I have to guide, nourish and take advantage of every teachable moment. Each day I must ask myself, "What do I need to do today to bring my children up in the Lord?"
I am a Christian, a wife, a mom, a VBS crafter, a coupon clipper, a thrift store shopper, a football fan, a cook, a student of the Bible and an avid reader.