Posted: 2/2/18 at 7:00am. Column by Ed Jordan.
It’s a crazy, busy world we are living in, isn’t it? There are so many options for our kids to pursue, and there’s so much peer pressure on both parents and kids to be involved in so many things. My heart goes out to busy parents trying to do their best. Parenting in our modern society isn’t easy, and there is no magic formula for successful parenting. But here I’ll share a couple essential timeless principles that may help.
Begin by establishing priorities and keeping them. Jesus taught us in Matthew 6:33 (NLT): “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Jesus gives two major priorities for our lives: 1) Seek God’s rule in your life above all else, and 2) Live out God’s ethics in all your relationships, and God will provide all the other things you need.
My personal priorities over several decades have been, in order: my relationship with God, my relationships with immediate family, spiritual involvement with carrying out God’s agenda, working for a livelihood, and recreation.
Of course I have to set priorities within each of those categories as well. For example, what are the priority objectives in our family relationships? Is it always giving everyone what they want? Or is it giving them what they need? Does God set the priorities for family, priorities, time use, and ethics? Do the parents set the priorities for their children, or does society, social media, schools, or peers?
Priorities are hard to establish, and harder still to consistently implement. Consider using the “kill it” principle: when you must decide whether to take on one more thing, decide if it is more important than any of the other things you are already doing. If it is, then decide what else to “kill” and remove from the schedule. Instead of doing that, though, we generally just keep adding more and more to our plates without taking anything off.
It would be helpful to regularly check our priorities to see if what we are doing is as worthwhile as we thought. For example, has travel ball really turned out to be more valuable than spiritual formation from church?
Another important principle is the parents’ personal involvement in modeling desired behavior in the family. I get that we are busy and need time out. But there is no substitute for our personal involvement with our spouse and kids and interactive time together as a family. God instructs us to live the truth of God’s Word in our interactions with our children and to be the prime teachers of our children (cf. Deut.6:4-12).
Use your time together to develop things in your children which will serve them for a lifetime and which they aren’t getting elsewhere. What kinds of things? Teach them the importance of God being the number one priority in our lives and why he deserves to be our priority.
Be careful; teaching in words without modeling the truth in actions, negates the teaching. If we talk of the importance of God and learning of him but only take the family to church when it is convenient, we are teaching that God isn’t really that important to us after all.
Teach your kids how to study the Bible, how to apply Bible truths in decision making, and how to make wise decisions. They are not learning those things from society, sports, or school.
Teach them love and responsible living. Teach them how to pray—how to talk with God.
Teach them how to see God at work in the world around them. Teach them how to think, how to evaluate what people say, and how to determine if things are true or not.
Teach them to be leaders who will influence people toward good, constructive, ethical living instead of following others into destructive living. Teach them how to follow Christ by following Christ yourself.
Teach them to be good parents by doing your best to be a good parent. And don’t forget to laugh. A lot. Model the importance of standing up for integrity, godly values, and the need to grow continually in faith. Teach them how to admit when they are wrong by modeling asking for forgiveness when you need to.
Work at improving your spiritual life so that they will see that it’s a life-long process. Learn from God, learn from church, and learn from life.
Love God, love your spouse, and love your kids.
No parent is perfect. But with God’s help, we can point our children to the perfect Savior.