Bible Goals in Training Children
This paper is not a how-to article on training children, but it
gives you some general ideas about the goals parents can set in
child training. You will probably have your child in the home
for about 18 years, and during that time it is your responsibility
to see that the child is educated, trained, and brought to enough
spiritual maturity to make the step into Christian adulthood.
You can set up a life "curriculum" for your child, for
every year of his life, which will enable him to reach his potential
in God's plan for his life.
The following are the main principles found in the Bible dealing
with parental responsibilities:
Children are a gift from God to parents. There are both privileges
and responsibilities resulting from this gift. Gen. 48:9; Psa.
127:3; Isa. 8:18
The chief responsibility of parents is the teaching and training
of their children. Deut. 6:6,7; Prov. 22:6; 2 Cor. 12:14; Eph.
6:4; Col. 3:21; 1 Tim. 3:4,12; Tit. 2:4; Deut. 4:9; 31:13
Parents' duties include providing for children's physical needs.
2 Cor. 12:14
Parents are expected to administer correction involving discipline.
Eph. 6:4; 1 Tim. 3:4; Deut. 4:9; Prov. 19:18; 22:15; 23:13
In all eras of Bible history, parents brought their children to
public Bible teaching. Josh. 8:35; 2 Chron. 20:13; Neh. 12:43;
Prov. 8:17,32; Matt. 21:15; Psa. 34:11; Prov. 3:1
See related passages also in Josh. 1:8; Heb. 3:13; Acts 2:46,47;
5:41,42; 16:4,5; 17:10,11
The Word of God is administered to children in large doses. 2
Tim. 3:15; 1 Sam. 2:26; Luke 1:80; 2:49
Parents must realize that children who, in later life, dishonor
their parents, bear heavy consequences as the result of divine
discipline. Deut. 21:20; 27:16; Prov. 15:20; 30:11; Micah 7:6;
2 Tim. 3:2; Matt. 15:4; Isa. 45:10.
A SET OF BIBLICAL GOALS
The following goals are derived from Scripture context, and they
relate to the spiritual development of a Christian of any age.
You would like to see your child advance as far as possible toward
these goals during his childhood and adolescence. Each of the
goals stated arises from a specific Bible promise relating to
God's plan for the Christian Way of Life and productivity during
the believer's lifetime.
Christian parents want salvation for their children. Many Christian
parents lead their own children to Christ.
Another goal for children is that they have the ability to live
in fellowship with God, through Biblical confession of sin, to
support daily growth in the spiritual life.
You want your child to have inner happiness, the peace of God
that passes understanding, and great inner joy that doesn't depend
on the details of life. Isa. 26:3; Psa. 128:1,2; Prov. 3:18;
John 13:17, etc.
You want your child to be mentally stable and psychologically
normal. A child can be fully adjusted to circumstances whether
they are pleasant or adverse. This requires learning to have
a relaxed mental attitude which results from claiming the promises
of Scripture, executing the commands, and learning doctrine.
Another goal is that your child have respect for authority, of
all kinds: parental, political, spiritual. As a child observes
his mother's submission to his father, or his father's submission
to legal authority, he will have a very positive object lesson
in proper response to authority. Eph. 5:22; Col. 3:18
Your child can have a mastery of the details of life, such things
as money, job, health, status, friends, social life, possessions,
entertainments, etc. (/ul>
Mastery of the details of life means:
(1) having the ability to enjoy the details of life without
being a slave to them, and
(2) having perfect inner happiness in the absence of one or more
details of life.
While there are differences in how much parents can provide
in actual details of life for their children, any parent can train
a child so that he does not seek his satisfaction in those things
or make them objects of a search for happiness.
An important goal is teaching a child about the production of
divine good, the lifelong production of "gold, silver, and
precious stones" rather than "wood, hay and stubble".
A life of witnessing is included in this, as well as the exercise
of spiritual gifts, regardless of vocation.
A child must learn as early in possible the means of having victory
over sin, from the standpoint of staying in fellowship with God
and in developing freedom from chronic, fear, worry, cruelty,
bitterness, envy, hatred, maligning, gossiping, judging, revenge
seeking, and so forth. Along with this is the freedom from the
need to sublimate through alcohol, drugs, or fornication.
The result of victory over sin patterns in the life is the freedom
from divine discipline and from the self-induced misery caused
by sin with and the accompanying neuroses and psychoses brought
on by chronic sin.
In all phases of life, your child should develop a set of Bible
standards by which to make decisions which come from divine viewpoint.
A child can develop the ability to give and receive love, first
of all to love and be occupied with the Lord Jesus Christ, then
to have a genuine impersonal love for others, and to be able to
exhibit true rapport love for friends, family, and spouse.
Along with this is your desire that your child will have the wisdom
to be able to distinguish God's choice for marriage partner. This
includes an under-standing of biblical principles of Christian
courtship and marriage, the ability to distinguish true love,
and the knowledge of how to set the pattern for a successful marriage,
even during the dating years and engagement period.
HELP IN THE PROJECT OF TRAINING CHILDREN
There is no question that parents have the responsibility for
training children, but there is a lot of help available, especially
in the local church. The church provides opportunity for parents
and children to be trained in the Word of God with doctrines essential
to family life and Christian living. Both the pastor's public
teaching and the ministry of other mature believers in the church,
some of whom have "faithful children, not accused of riot
or unruly", are sources of help to parents in achieving the
goals stated above.
A parent can sometimes delegate academic education responsibility
to school teachers whom he regards as competent, people who will
reinforce with the child the doctrines and standards he learns
in the home and at church. The Christian school, for example,
can help parents by providing competent academic instruction in
an environment parents with which the parents can be comfortable.
The Christian school also provides a format for the sharing of
spiritual gifts of teachers along with academic expertise which
parents may not possess. This type of school has administrators
and teachers whose orientation to life and to doctrine is similar
to the parents' and that provides reinforcement of the divine
viewpoint taught at home.
Where suitable public or private schools are not available, the
parent must consider educating the child at home. Again, there
are usually many resource people in a local church who can help
with curriculum, tutoring, and management of the academics.
RESULTS OF FAILURE TO FOLLOW BIBLICAL PRACTICES IN RAISING CHILDREN
When parents fail to stay in God's plan for the Christian Way
of Life, they will not be in a position to lead their children
in obtaining the goals listed here. Therefore, the rest of this
paper is a warning to parents who are tempted to be "dropouts".
When parents fail to commit themselves to a consistent routine
of Bible study and Christian growth, accompanied by the consistent
control of the Holy Spirit, a condition will occur described in
the Bible as "darkness in the soul" or "blindness
in the soul", Eph. 4:17,18. When this happens, the following
progressive negative results are observed, all of which have an
enormous negative impact on children, as you can see.
Soul darkness leads to a breakdown in the faith system of acquiring
wisdom, a lessening of the understanding of God's point of view,
and a cessation of spiritual growth.
In the place of divine standards come human standards, criteria,
programs, false standards. This results in subjectivity, unhappiness,
Without a true source for happiness, the believer's frustration
leads him to a frantic search for happiness through the details
of life. He becomes a slave to those details.
The believer also begins to produce his own misery. God's chastisement
is compounded daily. Neuroses and psychoses are developed from
chronic mental attitude sins. And all this is aggravated by his
having no defense against the attacks of Satan. The Christian
is still in the battle, but he doesn't have his armor on. He
becomes a casualty in the spiritual conflict.
Meanwhile, arrogant self-righteousness replaces the righteousness
of God, Rom. 10:3. This leads to systems of pseudo-spirituality
in which the believer sets up his own system for pleasing God
and obtaining His blessing. At the same time he becomes even
more alienated from the Word of God, which is the only solution
to his downward slide.
When parents are alienated from the Lord, the results in the lives
of their children are, of course, catastrophic.
First, the child adopts the negative viewpoint of his parents
toward the Word of God; so he doesn't get into his own program
of doctrinal intake.
Then, his parents' human viewpoint becomes his own; he adopts
their standards, their criteria, their doctrine, their methods,
Further, his parents' pursuit of happiness through the details
of life influences his value judgments, his career plans, his
orientation to God and God's Word. So children are sometimes
further isolated from Bible teaching than are their parents because
they never achieve the initial momentum with which their parents
may have started.
This is the progression of sin which the Bible says is visited
upon the succeeding generations of children.
The only ray of encouragement in this description is that a child
has his own volition and may at some point in his life become
positive to Grace on his own. He can certainly recover from his
parents' backsliding, but he will experience the effects of poor
child training all of his life.
There are many principles for parents to learn from the Bible
about avoiding the pitfalls in child training and to help their
children make rapid progress in the Christian way of life. I hope
that this paper has whet your appetite to follow through on the
responsibilities God gives you.