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Like any good parents, my husband and I want our children prepared for the things that they may experience in today’s world. We want to raise them up to be good soldiers in the kingdom of God. That requires preparation. Part of that preparation is everyday conversation and we had an interesting one the other day.
Every once in awhile we play a game where we ask the boys questions and see what their responses will be. We use questions to elicit their own thoughts about an important situation. So, for example, I asked my older son what he would do if a friend of his wanted him to view pornography with him. Now my son is 11 years old but, I am not ignorant of Satan’s devices. Children are beginning earlier and earlier to be exposed to things that they have no business engaging with. I think it is best for him to hear first about this from his own parents. So I asked him what he would do. His response was appropriate. He knew that viewing any sexual content was not right for a boy his age and so he said that he would tell his friend that he was not interested and would distract himself. Good answer I thought. But then I probed him further. “Why would it be wrong to view pornography? What sin are you committing? After all, God made the human body and he made women for men. He may not be married to the naked woman in the magazine but what is wrong with looking?”. This was a question that he was unable to answer and so it was a learning opportunity. We talked about lust and its addictive nature.
Then it was my other son’s turn who is 9 years old. I posed to him a question that was very timely and potentially likely. I asked him what he would say in response to a friend of his that decided that he no longer wanted to be a little boy, but he wanted to be a little girl instead. He wants to wear dresses and make-up and earrings. My son was quick to say that that was not something that God would be pleased with because He made male and female and that God has a purpose for his friend’s life. Once again, a good answer. Then I probed him further. “But if God gives us choices and we can choose what is right or what is wrong, what makes this desire so wrong? After all, God gave us all feelings didn’t he? He designed emotion”. This one stumpt him. My husband then explained that we don’t lean on our own knowledge, but on what the Bible says. The Word of God is always the standard and our final authority no matter how we “feel”. I thought my husband’s answer was brilliant!
It is important to challenge the notions of society, or lack thereof, with our children. They need to understand that there are biblical answers to hard questions that they may be facing in the near future. Equipping these young soldiers for spiritual warfare is an intentional task that parents should embrace. When we do not fill the question gaps with biblical content, the enemy is quick to provide an alternative to the whole truth.
Using the practice of guided reflection, even in times of biblical devotion, can ensure that a person comes to their own conclusions, not forced ones. You do not want your children to have to feel as though they are pressured into salvation and living a godly lifestyle. It is the power of the Holy Spirit that gives the believer direction and conviction. Without this internal conviction, they are just following rules. That is good, but it is not enough; and the type of spiritual warfare that we are facing today is craftfully calculated by the enemy of their souls.
Unfortunately, the leniency in parenting and lack of reinforcement in the church for our youth is staggering. Young people are leaving many churches at an alarming rate. Those who are able to hold on to the next generation have strategic and applicable ministry practices that include discipling parents in having those hard conversations with their children. Providing an avenue where children, tweens & teens can freely ask questions and not feel shamed is crucial.
It really all comes down to disciplining your children. Disciplemakers know that without leading someone else to the Lord who can do the same, is really not discipling in full. If your children cannot follow Jesus for themselves and teach others, then our commission is incomplete. We must equip them, challenge them and encourage them daily. Being a parent is a tall order, but God has given us everything that we need to raise them well. My husband and I pray that we can be an example to other parents in rearing, not just “good kids”, but “discipled soldiers”!
You can read more about how we Walk Together Towards God on our blog.