Articles

Raising Gospel-Centered Children

In Home and Family, Perspective on June 12, 2012 by The Spillover

From Luma Simms:

Because we are our children’s parents and earthly authority (while they are young) we can slip into the mindset that their salvation and sanctification depends on us. This slip then leads to mentoring and training that is child-centered. This is false. The Holy Spirit is responsible for conviction of sin and bringing people to salvation. That includes the little people in our homes. When we search out the Spirit, when we talk about Him and hold Him up before our children, we are modeling a life of Spirit-dependence for our children. This is training them to walk in step with the Sprit.

How do we set a good example of a disciple before the eyes of our children so they can emulate us? It’s not just about making Jesus our priority. It’s about showing our children that our identity is in Christ. From our identity in Christ, our identity as parents will naturally flow. Along with this we must model a life of reliance on the Holy Spirit. Our children need to hear us say: “I prayed for the Lord to fill you with his Holy Spirit today.” Or, “I prayed for the Spirit to give you wisdom when you met with your teacher.”

How can we get there? The Holy Spirit often prompts us to take a hard look at the things that excite us. Our children pick up on our excitement and our passions. If getting through today’s installment from the church family worship book takes precedence over having compassion on a red-eyed child who is up past his or her bedtime, our children will begin to sense that checking off a box on our godly to-do list is more important than loving our neighbor.

D.A. Carson says this extraordinarily well in the context of the student/teacher relationship:

Recognize that students do not learn everything you teach them. They certainly do not learn everything I teach them! What do they learn? They learn what I am excited about; they learn what I emphasize, what I return to again and again; they learn what organizes the rest of my thoughts. So if I happily presuppose the gospel but rarely articulate it and am never excited about it, while effervescing frequently about, say, ecclesiology or textual criticism, my students may conclude that the most important thing to me is ecclesiology or textual criticism. They may pick up my assumption of the gospel; alternatively, they may even distance themselves from the gospel; but what they will almost certainly do is place at the center of their thought ecclesiology or textual criticism, thereby wittingly or unwittingly marginalizing the gospel.

My husband and I saw this same mistranslation happen with our children when we were not deliberate about the gospel. Even worse than merely de-emphasizing the gospel, we started realizing that our children had become judgmental little scoffers. Why? Because we were so busy comparing and contrasting our education, parenting, and worship style choices with those of other parents that we had marginalized the gospel before our kids. We were way more excited about high church liturgy, classical education, “courtship,” family worship times, you name it. We actually believed they were signs of spiritual maturity. The only problem was, we had neglected the one and only thing that could ever give our children and us the power and strength for real spiritual maturity—the gospel.

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