trusted online casino malaysia
Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
Rooted in Christ

Counsel to My Son

“What is your best advice for raising children?"

For my birthday my son gave me a subscription to Storyworth, which I surmise to be a way to get old people to tell their stories while they are still around. Perhaps it’s a subtle way for my son to find out where the treasure is buried.

Each week I receive a writing prompt that’s been generated either by the service or by my son. The latest prompt came from one chosen by my son: “What is your best advice for raising children?”

As background, my son has been married for over five years but just last year became a father. I’m not sure whether his writer’s prompt simply reflects a newfound interest or a genuine desire for guidance. Either way, I took it seriously and spent some time putting it together.

I should mention that my son and his wife are believers who have committed before Christ and His church to raise their little girl in the ways of the Christian faith, looking to Christ for her salvation as they have their own. This lends a degree of sobriety to my counsel, particularly in that it models my advice to him. In a real sense, it does point him to where the Treasurer is buried.

Here is my response to the prompt, “What is your best advice for raising children?"

I think the most important thing in parenting is to be present with your children. That involves not only time but attention. God has given them to you as a blessing and a responsibility. So be present with your children, and not merely present but present with purpose.

In Christ you are to them prophet, priest, and king. As prophet, you bring the word of God to fashion their worldview and direct their steps. As priest, you pray with and for them. As king, you direct, protect, and provide for them.

In these roles you keep Jesus as their foundation and their focus. You are His under-shepherd by word, prayer, and personal example, helping them to live in the world but not of it.

Know that foolishness is bound up in the hearts of your children, inclining them to self and to do what is right in their own eyes. Inculcate in them the wisdom of God that says: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil” (Prov. 3:5-7).

Two key passages are helpful to keep in mind.  

(1) Deuteronomy 6:5–7. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”

This passage tells us that our relationship with God is more than duty. It is one of love, affecting not only our religious practice but all of life in communion with the God who first loved us. 

We teach our children not only in designated times but in the course of everyday life. We teach by instruction and example. We bring God’s word to bear in real life situations, not merely in the classroom.

Notice that the “words” which God commands you to teach them are to be first in your own heart, reminiscent of Paul’s instruction to the Ephesians elders when he says: “take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd” (Acts 20:28). Your own walk with the Lord is foundational to shepherding your children.

(2) Ephesians 6:4. “Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”

How do we provoke our children to wrath, or as the parallel in Colossians puts it, “exasperate” them? One way is by being inconsistent, changing boundaries or consequences according to our whim, often because of our own laziness. Words matter. Say what you mean; mean what you say. 

We want to give our kids the safety of boundaries, with an eye to discipline. Discipline is not simply punishment but structure, including instruction, assistance, grace, and consequences. Allow them freedom within boundaries as you walk by their side.

The word “training” is often translated “nurture” and involves direction and instruction. It is parental malpractice to allow our children to go their own way. We all have a built-in misalignment and must hold fast to the steering wheel of God’s wisdom as we follow the path of righteousness, fixing our eyes on Jesus.

“Admonition” presupposes the waywardness of sin resident in our children’s hearts as it is our own and acts to protect them from themselves and help them in their foolishness, misjudgment, and naivete. It is teaching that carries the edge of warning and looks to keep them within the safety and security of God’s wisdom.

Stan Gale

Stanley D. Gale (MDiv Westminster, DMin Covenant) has pastored churches in Maryland and Pennsylvania for over 30 years. He is the author of several books, including A Vine-Ripened Life: Spiritual Fruitfulness through Abiding in Christ and The Christian’s Creed: Embracing the Apostolic Faith. He has been married to his wife, Linda, since 1975. They have four children and ten grandchildren. He lives in West Chester, Pa.
Books by Stan Gale

Subscribe to Ailbe Newsletters

Sign up to receive our email newsletters and read columns about revival, renewal, and awakening built upon prayer, sharing, and mutual edification.