Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Ten Ways To Love Your Children

Ephesians 6:4 - Fathers (Parents) do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

This is an excerpt from a Men's Conference, but I got so much out of it I thought I'd share. Hopefully, there is at least one item that you can benefit from. I will post 5 this week and the other 5 next week.

Raising godly kids today takes intentionality--the right amount of structure, time, prayers, encouragement, and affection. My own children are grown now. I did a lot of things wrong, but here are ten practical love-in-action things I did right for you to consider. Remember, love is what love does.

1. Pay Your Children to Read the Bible - Nothing has more potential to transform our children into faithful followers of Jesus than reading God's Word. But it probably won't happen by itself. Patsy and I had an unconventional idea about this. When our kids were about twelve and nine, we decided to pay them to read the Bible. We told them, "If you will read five minutes a day for 25 or more days in a month, we'll give you the money to buy whatever CD you want." I thought I detected a yawn. Then we added, "And if you read 25 days for ten out of twelve months, we will pay you $250." Suddenly their eyes lit up! Finally we said, "But if you read 25 days or more a month for all twelve months, we will double that and pay you $500." That really got their attention! Our kids made monthly calendars, taped them to their mirrors, and made an X through each day they read. We put them on the honor system and even gave them the ability to make up missed days.
Was that bribery? I don't know. But our kids always did their daily devotions and they both love Jesus. Paying our kids to read the Bible was the single best thing we ever did for our children's faith.

2. Lead Your Children in Family Devotions - Three or four days a week during the school year, we had a 15-minute family devotion. I usually started with a life situation--something in the neighborhood, from the newspaper, or a school situation. Then I read a Scripture passage that applied. We finished with each of us saying a short prayer. To make the prayers more than "Let us have a good day," we also prayed for someone in need each time.

3. Establish Work Boundaries - To make family my priority, I set up some rules: leave work no later than 6:00 p.m., don't take work home, and don't work weekends. During my evening commute, I'd let my mind process what I'd been doing during the workday--until I drove over a creek about a mile from our home. Then I would put everything into a mental briefcase and toss it into the creek. That gave me a couple of minutes to prepare to greet my family.

4. Make Your Family Your Number One Ministry - A tornado ripped through our church building. The call went out for volunteers to help clean up on Saturday. But my son had a game that day and I thought the game was a higher priority. Sunday the volunteers were asked to stand and be thanked publicly. I briefly felt guilt and shame for not having been there with them. Without intending to do so, churches can put pressure on you to serve others to the neglect of your own family. What's your response going to be? No one else cares about your family like you do. No one else can, or should, take responsibility to disciple your family. That one's on you. You have to set boundaries. Your most important small group and ministry is your family. Until you get this right, you really shouldn't be doing ministry anywhere else.

5. Spend Time with and Date Your Children - When our kids were young, we played board games after dinner. I endured endless, mind- numbing repetitions of Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders--games that require the IQ of a goldfish. I drove them to school during the week and stayed home with them every Saturday morning while Patsy ran errands. I cherished this time with them. Once they became teenagers, I started taking one child out every Tuesday for a dinner date and something fun, like ice cream, go- carts, or the mall. Looking back, those were the best, and almost only, one-on-one times we had. If you're not intentional about this, a whole year can go by without you sharing a single deep conversation with your kids.

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