I don’t have many pictures of myself that I really like, but this is one of my favorites!
Yup, that’s me, back in those prehistoric days of the ’50s! I only regret I didn’t have my black leather jacket on! All the rest is perfect, except for the butch haircut!
Those words are etched on my heart and mind, Jesus wants your heart. As parents, this was our single greatest desire for our children, that Jesus would get their heart and soul. That they would grow up to love Jesus Christ with everything in them and honor him with their lives.
Parents, we spend great amounts of effort and money to nurture our children’s bodies. We spend great amounts of money to nurture our children academically. But, how much effort and attention do we really give to nurture their heart and soul towards God?
As I look back over the last 43 years, I have known many parents. I have observed many families that were seemingly very “Christian”, very faithful to the church, and they seemed outwardly to be good parents. But, as many of their children got into their teenage years, they drifted from God. Many became disillusioned, some became outright rebellious towards God, others abandoned Christianity, while others simply kept a form of Christianity on the outside but were genuinely lukewarm, and apathetic. I saw others whose kids really embraced a lifestyle of sin and selfishness.
All of these parents were heartbroken in some way. Many of them asked the soul searching questions, “Why? How did this happen? We gave them a good Christian home! We took them to church! What did we miss?”
I have visited with many of them in depth, cried with many, having deep empathy to their heartbreak, and sorrow. I have also had many visits with some of their children, and it was revealing to hear them share their honest experience of growing up in the home that everyone else thought, looking in from the outside, was so Christian, and godly. I discovered that many times it was some simple, thoughtless behavior or consistent neglect of a parent, or some glaring inconsistencies of both parents that had a very negative effect on this child’s heart and soul. Others relayed to me the hypocrisy in a father, or mother that over time turned them off to Jesus Christ, and to the Bible, and God.
Somewhere along the way, they lost their child’s heart!
As the writer of Proverbs 23:26 states, “My son, give me your heart!”
There is not one of us fathers or mothers who are perfect in every way. All of us can be selfish, all of us can be inconsiderate, all of us can make mistakes, and will make mistakes. All of us will have our flaws and our struggles. However, all of us must find ways to overcome them, and to put into consistent practice, wise, godly, intentional things that will nurture and win our children’s heart towards God. To nurture them in a meaningful way that causes them to genuinely learn, grow, thrive, and eventually love and embrace Jesus Christ and His ways.
The word nurture means that care and attention were given to someone or something that is growing and developing. Something that nourishes!
IT IS SO IMPORTANT THAT WE AS PARENTS UNDERSTAND HOW WE CAN IMPACT AND INFLUENCE OUR CHILDREN’S PRECIOUS HEARTS AND SOULS.
SO MANY KIDS HAVE THEIR HEARTS AND SOULS DAMAGED BY THEIR PARENTS, PARENTS WHO HAVE TAKEN THE HEART OUT OF THEM, OR SOURED THEM TO SPIRITUAL THINGS BECAUSE THE PARENTS WERE NOT WINSOME AND GENUINELY THOUGHTFUL, LOVING, AND WISE IN THE WAY THE DEALT WITH THEIR CHILD.
This verse is burned into my brain:
Eph. 6:4 (AMP), “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to the point of resentment with demands that are trivial or unreasonable or humiliating or abusive; nor by showing favoritism or indifference to any of them], but bring them up [tenderly, with loving kindness] in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
ASK YOURSELF THESE QUESTIONS: AM I WINSOME TOWARDS MY CHILDREN?
AM I TAKING THE HEART OUT OF MY CHILD, OR PUTTING HEART INTO MY CHILD?
I would like to pass on some of the strategic and intentional things Kathy and I did to win our children’s hearts, to nurture their heart and soul.
WE MUST WIN OUR CHILDREN’S HEARTS AND EARN THEIR RESPECT. How we treat them will leave a lasting and permanent impression.
1. BE PLEASANT WITH YOUR CHILDREN. SPEAK KINDLY AND TENDERLY TO THEM.
2. DO NOT BE HARSH, ANGRY, OR ABRASIVE IN YOUR WORDS OR YOUR TONE.
Words have tremendous power. They can kill and destroy, they can take the heart right out of someone or they can breathe life, hope, and strength into a person. Do you consistently use your words to build your children up? What is the tone of voice you use to speak to your children most often?
3. BE KIND TO THEM AND TREAT THEM WITH LOVING CARE.
The Bible tells us kindness makes a man attractive! Are you consistently kind to your children? Are you compassionate and caring in the way you deal with them? Did you know Jesus told us, “Your care for others is the measure of your greatness?”
4. SHOW GENUINE INTEREST IN THEM. ENJOY THEM. TELL THEM YOU LOVE THEM OFTEN. EXPRESS TO THEM YOU ARE PROUD OF THEM. PRAISE THEM IN MEANINGFUL WAYS.
We say as Christians that children are a gift from the Lord! Do you treat them as such? Would your kids say, “I can tell my parents believe we are gifts from God because of the way they treat us.”
5. ENTER THEIR WORLD!
Take an interest in what interests them. Here were some of my kid’s interests.
JEROMY- Loved Barry Sanders, loved to draw
JESSICA- The Mis-Education of Lauren Hill, loved to do makeup and hair.
MICAH- Loved Super Mario, loved to draw, loved Pokemon
CELESTE- Loved to read, loved to sing
6. DATE YOUR KIDS, CONNECT WITH THEM RELATIONALLY. WE’D GO TO TACO BELL, OR TODAY, I WOULD HAVE CHIPOTLE DATES! DON’T BE DISTANT PHYSICALLY OR EMOTIONALLY DISTANT! JESUS WAS NOT EMOTIONALLY NOR PHYSICALLY DISTANT FROM THOSE HE LOVED!
Taking your child out individually for a donut, or hot chocolate, or lunch, or something like that, is a great way to make them feel special and that they really matter to you. It allows you to connect with them in a relational and emotional way. TURN OFF YOUR PHONE WHEN YOU GO ON THIS DATE!
7. LISTEN TO THEM WITHOUT MAKING THEM FEEL SMALL, OR JUDGED, OR BEING SARCASTIC.
8. DON’T PUT YOUR KIDS DOWN. THIS IS A POOR WAY TO CORRECT CHILDREN. EX. “OH, THAT WAS REAL BRIGHT WASN’T IT? DOESN’T THAT MAKE YOU FEEL STUPID?”
9. IN YOUR CORRECTION BE KIND, NOT ANGRY, HARSH OR MEAN SPIRITED.
Learn how to correct them well and effectively, in ways they can understand and grasp. Don’t speak over their heads.
10. DEAL LOVINGLY AND GRACIOUSLY WITH THEIR FAILURES. SHOW THEM GOD’S NATURE.
Kids are going to fail, just like you fail. Show them the grace of God, the same grace you have been shown by God.
11. WALK HUMBLY BEFORE THEM. ADMIT WHEN YOU MAKE MISTAKES AND ASK THEIR FORGIVENESS
12. TALK TO THEM ABOUT GOD, AND YOUR FAITH. PRAY WITH THEM AND TALK OVER BIBLE TRUTH WITH THEM. SIMPLY INSERT IT INTO EVERYDAY LIFE.
Learn to bring your faith and the Bible into everyday life situations. Let them see the reality of your faith in God, how the Bible sustains you, and your genuine joy in Jesus Christ. Make the reality of faith accessible to them. Let them also see your dependence on God through the very hard times, let them see your sorrows, your pain, your struggles as you strive to trust God in real life. Do this in age-appropriate ways. At times, let your children hear you dump on God in prayer so they grasp what it means to cast your burdens on the Lord, and pour out your heart to God.
13. LET THEM SEE YOUR JOYFUL INVOLVEMENT IN CHURCH LIFE. BRING THEM INTO THIS VITAL CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE, AND GODLY PRACTICE.
Let them see your willing, enthusiastic service to other people.
14. PRAY FOR THEM EVERY DAY, FOR A SOFT HEART, AND OVER YOUR PARENTING PRACTICES WITH THEM.
1. DO MY CHILDREN TRUST ME?
2. DO MY CHILDREN OPEN UP TO ME? ARE THEY AFRAID OF ME?
3. DO MY CHILDREN LIKE ME AND ENJOY MY COMPANY?
4. DO MY CHILDREN FEEL SAFE WITH ME?
5. DO MY CHILDREN FEEL GOOD AROUND ME?
6. DO MY CHILDREN FEEL THEY ARE IMPORTANT TO ME?
7. DO MY CHILDREN GET MY UNDISTRACTED ATTENTION AND TIME?
8. DO I HAVE MY CHILD’S AFFECTION, ADMIRATION, AND RESPECT?
9. DO MY CHILDREN FEEL BELITTLED BY ME, OR BUILT UP BY ME?
10. DO MY CHILDREN FEEL ACCEPTED BY ME?
11. AM I HARD TO PLEASE?
12. DO MY CHILDREN LISTEN TO ME? DO THEY OBEY ME?
ASK YOUR SPOUSE TO SHARE HONESTLY WITH YOU WHAT THEY OBSERVE ABOUT THESE QUESTIONS AND ABOUT YOU.
These thought-provoking questions can really help you think clearly and deeply about the effectiveness of your parenting. Take the time to carefully think over and evaluate the answers and insights to these questions.
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