My testimony is that of the “prodigal son” who came home to his father (Luke 15:11-31). As a young boy I went to church, but when I left for college, the things of God were of little interest to me. Not until age 30 did I recognize that I was spiritually malnourished… and horribly so!
Gentlemen, start your engines…
When I returned “home” spiritually I had a wife and two small children, two-and-a-half years old and one-and-a-half. We were off and racing through life before I knew what had happened. I was now to be the spiritual head of my family and I didn’t have a clue as to where to start. I thank God that I at least realized I needed to get my family to a good Bible-teaching church where we all began to be fed and get direction for our lives. Church is a great place to ignite your spiritual engine!
Once I arrived at the church, I started looking and praying for someone who could give me some help, some guidance, anything that would assist me in being a godly husband and a loving, caring father to my girls. And the Lord answered my prayers. I found a church elder who was able to give me some biblical direction. He imparted to me some valuable principles from God’s Word and from his own life experiences. These insights, along with those from godly parenting books Elizabeth and I studied together, were a constant source of input for the next 25 years of my own life as a parent. Seeking wise counsel can point you in the right direction!
Here is the goal: Behavior is heart driven. Therefore, correction, discipline and training—all parenting—must be addressed to the heart. The fundamental task of parenting is shepherding the hearts of your children. Author Tedd Tripp says it best:
…parenting is concerned with shepherding the heart. You must learn to work back from the behavior you see to the heart, exposing heart issues for your children. In short, you must learn to engage them, not just reprove them. Help them see the ways that they are trying to slake [satisfy] their soul’s thirst with that which cannot satisfy. You must help your kids gain a clear focus on the cross of Christ.
Your children are given to you by God, and their hearts are your stewardship from God. He expects you to do your part in raising them to know and love Him. And He has given you all you need in Him to accomplish his purposes. The heart is the best place to start!
A Verse to Recall:
Love the Lord God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up (Deuteronomy 6:5-7).
For more encouragement pick up a copy of A Man After God’s Own Heart by Jim George.