How can we train our children for a faithful and trial enduring life in the service of their God?
I don’t believe this is an easy responsibility. Praise the Lord that we are called to be faithful in this task and not perfect. We know this is not easy from firsthand experience. If it is not easy for us then it will certainly be a challenge in our parenting, but nonetheless a worthy one. This task will also present challenges in light of the world’s direct opposition to this biblical worldview. Acknowledging the omnipotence (all powerful) and omniscience (all knowing) of our God, scripture encourages us that our trials have purpose and are appropriate for us. Therefore, I believe asking two questions can help us here. Is the trial in our children’s lives purposeful? Is the trial’s level of difficulty appropriate?
First the struggle oversee in their lives must be purposeful. We must be mindful where our own motives are. For instance, in the area of discipline, we must not venture into the discipline of our children while being irritated or selfishly angry with them. Irritated discipline is a quick path to crushing our children. The consequences must be purposeful and fitting to the offense. The purpose of discipline is to train us (Hebrews 12:11). Purposeful consequences and trials can grow, strengthen, and mature our children. When administering discipline or overseeing the trials in our children’s lives, we must instruct them in the biblical worldview. We must teach them that discipline and trial are used by a sovereign God to instill growth and should always result in trust and dependence on the Lord. Trials without purpose leave them frustrated, exasperated, and defeated.
The struggle must also be appropriate. The appropriateness of a trial is dependent on your child. You know your children better than anyone else. You know what is appropriate for them, but you must be careful not to fall into the temptation of preventing them from experiencing hard things. Too little struggle and your children become dull and ineffective. Too much struggle and they become discouraged and downtrodden. Remember that God uses His sovereignly orchestrated trials to grow His children. The trial must be appropriate, and you are the best one to gauge this.
To close, I leave us with a final charge, we need to lead by example. If we grumble through our trials, then they will grumble through theirs. If they grumble through their trials, they stunt their growth. If they learn this grumbling from you, then you stunt their growth. However, if we seek the Lord in the midst of our trials, then they may as well. If we entrust ourselves to a just and faithful Creator, then they may as well. And if our children learn to entrust themselves to this just and faithful God, then they will learn to be trained by their trials and they will reap the fruit of righteousness.
To follow Christ, we will suffer in this fallen world. Take heart, Christ has overcome this world. Now we are more than conquerors because of the work of Christ. In light of this truth, our suffering, trials, and struggle are used for our good. Are we protecting our children from the struggle of life or are we preparing them to take up their cross and follow Christ?