Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.Proverbs 22:6The most important mission we have as Christian fathers is to train and equip our children for the journey of life, and prepare them for an eternity with God.
Along the journey of life they will face many battles. But how are we to go about training our children when everyone’s standards are so different, and the world is in a constant state of change?
In this post I’ve put together a brief outline of 3 key stages, and their various elements, that we must train our children in so that they’ll be ready for life and eternity. These are a culmination of many of the books, sermons, and speeches I’ve read and listened to over the years.
As a Dad of 4 girls under the age of 8, I’m still learning how to be faithful in the first 2 stages of training. By no means am I a perfect dad. And I’ve failed more times than I can count. But I sure am thankful that I have this to help guide me in my efforts to train my children. Take this as a battle-plan template to start with. Build on it, and adjust as you see fit:
This could also be called the obedience stage, or as Dr. Voddie Baucham says, the discipline & correction stage. This is where we train our children to put their focus on us as parents. They must be trained to look outside of themselves and deny their sinful nature, and focus on us parents who’ve been called to train them for life and eternity.
Establish A Clear Family Order (The Chain of Command)
Establish Rules & Expectations (The Standard)
Demand Simple Obedience (The Requirements)
When Teaching Your Children New Things (The Procedure)
- Tell How To Do It (Desired Results, Rules & Guidelines, Resources Available)
- Show How To Do It (They Watch While You Do)
- Do It Together
- Supervise Them While They Do It Alone (Lot’s of Encouragement Needed Here)
- Have Them Do the Work Independently (Ditto Here)
- Rewards and Punishments (Follow Up)
(Encouragement When Done Well, Spankings & Correction When Not Done Well. Prov. 13:24)
Test to See if You're Ready to Go to the Next StageCan your child obey you immediately, happily, and completely on any given task? If not, work on the above before moving on. If so, you may pass Go and collect a high-five from your wife.
Dr. Voddie Baucham calls this the catechism stage- where we train their minds.
Family Worship (Equipping for the Journey- We should aim to do this daily!)
- Bible Reading & Discussion
(To See How We Do Family Devotions Click HERE)
Bible Memory & Catechism (Sword-Practice)
Personal Devotions (Learning to Equip Themselves)
Test to See if You're Ready to Go to the Next StageDoes your child know the basic Gospel Message? How to pray and sing to God? Can they recite some key Bible verses from heart? Do they have personal devotions on a regular basis? If not, work on the above before moving on. If so, you may pass Go and collect a double high-five from your wife.
This could also be called the discipleship stage, where we walk hand-in-hand showing our children how to apply all that they’ve learned.
Seek for opportunities at home to practice what they’ve learned (Application At Home)
- Their Behavior
- Their Decision making
- Their Communication (With family members, friends, & strangers)
- How They Spend Their Time (Are theses activities edifying?)
- Their Clothing and Appearance (Does it reflect a life changed by God?)
- Hospitality (Hosting others in Your home- 1 Tim. 3:2, Rom. 12:13, Tit. 1:8)
Ministry Outside of the Home (Application outside the Home)
- Visiting Others
- Volunteer Work
Encourage them to make their own choices and reap the consequences of those choices
Give more freedoms as they show themselves faithful
Treat Your Older Children Like Adults
Pray For Them & Bless Them As They Leave Your Home (Training is Completed)
Test to See if You've Finished Your Parenting MissionHopefully you’ve given your children a solid foundation, daily equipping in God’s word, and plenty of opportunity to practice and apply what they’ve learned, all before they left your home. If not, ask that God would forgive you for not executing the mission He gave you to do, and fervently and daily pray that God would still do a work in their hearts. Your fervent prayers are powerful! (James 5:16) If so, double-up on your prayer efforts on behalf of your children. They’re still gonna need all the prayers they can get!
Some Final Things to Remember:
Unity With Your Wife
It is important that we men strive for unity within the home, and work to establish similar standards for child-raising with our wives. A house divided will not stand. Make sure to communicate, encourage, and help one another along the journey. Remember that you’re both on the same side! You want what’s best for the children.
God’s Word is Our Standard
It’s so important that we show our children that God and His word is our ultimate authority, and not our own desires and opinions. If they see that you walk according to the light of God’s word, and that your steps are firm and steady, they will desire the same thing in their lives.
Don’t Skip Stages
The stages listed above should be prioritized in the order they were presented, however, there will be some overlap. When a young parent encourages their little children to make their own choices before they’ve been given foundational training in obedience, and before they’ve been given the standard for truth, you end up with a building project on unstable ground. The end result will be fragile, self-centered, and picky children, along with frustrated, exhausted, and withdrawn parents.
The Bible talks about the importance of spending time with God on a daily basis: praying always (1 Thess. 5:16), meditating on His word (Ps. 1:1-3), and singing praises to Him (Eph. 5:19). It also commands that we parents diligently train them in God’s word (Deut. 6:5-7 & Prov. 22:6). In order to engrain healthy, life-giving patterns and habits into our children we really need to strive for consistency. We’re training them to be ready in season and out of season.
Love Above All
Love should be at the heart of all that we’re doing. We’re not just training our children so that they’ll be outwardly good. We’re training them because we love them to have the best in life, and that starts with knowing Christ!
The Mission Never Ends
The children’s in-home training and our authority over them will some day come to an end, but our mission to love and pray for them will never end. If you’re an empty-nester, you’ve been called to long-distance support
This is the greatest mission God has given us as parents. May we accept the mission, and carry it out faithfully.
May we do it for the glory of God, and for the good of our little troops!
What are some things that your family does to train up your children in the way that they should go? Please let me know in the comments below![easy-social-share]