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Paige Patterson on Fifteen Principles of Christian Parenting

Parents: remember that you are the ones who will most help your children develop a Christian worldview and know the Scriptures thoroughly, that you are the main people who will show them what it means to live a godly life. Here are fifteen principles of parenting for your consideration.

Do not try to entertain your children all the time. You have neither the money nor the talent to compete with the world. Even more important, when young people begin to consider the things of God, they are not looking for entertainment, nor are they looking for the same diet they get in the world. Concentrate your energies instead on what only you can do.

Fathers, be a man’s man your children will respect. Mothers, be a woman who is godly, pure of heart, and a model of what biblical womanhood is all about.

Teach them to love Jesus and God’s Word, the Bible. If they genuinely and profoundly love Jesus and cherish the Bible as God’s Word, they will be better able to withstand the temptations that inevitably will accost them.

Teach them the whole biblical revelation. Too few parents are good Bible teachers. Learn as much as you possibly can about the Bible, theology, and philosophy.

Teach them basic theology. By the time a young person is in the first or second year in high school, he ought to be able to give you a good assessment of the basic doctrines of the faith, and he ought to understand how they relate to one another.

Teach your children how to share their faith, and give them regular opportunities to witness for Christ.

Teach them the meaning of sacrifice. Begin with the sacrifice of Jesus and the sacrificial ministries of others, such as Paul, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and John. Teach them the enormous benefits and joys that come from making sacrifices for the sake of Christ. They will catch on more quickly than will adults.

Lead your children to ask God about his will for their lives. And remember that if the father is a positive example of a godly man, his children will respond quickly, and many of them affirmatively, to the possibility that God may want some of them to serve as pastors, missionaries, or other Christian vocational leaders.

Do not make youth activities an end in themselves. Choir tours and social projects are worthy activities for young people, but every mission tour must gauge its effectiveness by whether or not the young people have seen people to whom they minister find Christ, and perhaps even have planted a church. When they have been prepared, young people have the gifts and passions to bring people to the Lord.

Teach them what the Bible says about sex. It is critically important that they know that the Bible says a great deal more about sexual intimacy than merely what not to do. If they are taught the blessings promised for living life God’s way, as well as reminded of the disasters that befall those who live another way, they will be more likely to choose the right way.

Make men out of the boys and women out of the girls. Our society is bent on trying to feminize boys and create as many masculine traits as possible in girls. This distortion leads to disaster. Teaching boys the responsibilities that a man must assume and teaching girls that true beauty before God is the “attitude of a gentle and quiet spirit” will immeasurably bless their lives, their homes, and their churches.

Make sure you are involved in your church’s youth ministry. Know what is happening and participate frequently in what is taking place. Go with the young people on some mission trips. Also, make sure that they are being taught to respect their parents, to honor and obey them in all things, and even to seek their approval of the ultimate decision of choosing a marriage partner and determining the timing of that marriage.

Even if your church has services just for the youth, be sure that most of the time, your children are in regular services with everyone else, and sitting with you. It is critically important that young people understand their church as being all of God’s redeemed gathered together in one congregation in one place. They need to learn to relate to the various age groups.

Have a regular time for Q&A with your children, and do not duck their questions. If you do not have an answer for them, admit it; but have one available to them the next time you talk, so they always know that whatever questions they raise will be considered.

Keep your sense of humor and have a good time with the children God has given you. If you take yourself too seriously, your children will not take you seriously. If, on the other hand, you show that you see humor in just about everything in life and that you can “have a blast,” you will be amazed at how seriously they will take you and how far they will follow you.

Paige Patterson is President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas (www.swbts.edu).

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