Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Do you have a Parenting Plan?

From Guest Contributor Jonathan Blayney
children's pastor at 24 Church in Pleasant View, TN
father of one beautiful daughter, with child #2 on the way

Most of the believers I know have a strong desire to raise their children to be godly; to be passionate followers of Christ. With the birth of my daughter Ashlynn, I wanted to revisit a plan for fathering that God inspired me to ponder many years ago, before even having a child. Though at the time I didn’t put this on paper, over the years I have begun to write it down in an effort to encourage other parents to have a plan for their parenting in the area of spiritual development.  

This is an outline of my specific plan for spiritual development of a child. You will need to alter your plan to fit your own goals, life situations, and the individualities of your children.

Here are 10 suggestions for raising godly children:

Realize that raising godly children does not usually happen by accident. It will require proper planning and implementation.

Know what you want your child to look like as an adult. Ultimately we want them to be like Christ, so He became the primary model. Write out some of the Christlike characteristics that you want your children to live out.

Define what it means to be a Christ follower. For me that definition is one who knows what God requires of them and is willing to do whatever it takes to meet that requirement.

Strive to live like Christ personally. I am learning early in parenting that children will, in many ways, be a copycat of their parents. They must see us willing to live out our own definition of who a Christ follower is and being willing to walk by faith.

Determine basic principles of spiritual growth that you want each child to learn. For me those are:
- How to hear from God.
- What it means to be a student of God’s Word.
- The act of surrendering to God’s will.
                 
Find practical teachings from God’s Word. Start by looking at the characters of the Bible and how their lives represented Christ, how they hear from and obey God, and also how sometimes they will fail. Reading through Proverbs and Ecclesiastes also helps implant wisdom in them.

Individualize teaching time for the child. We do not have to do the typical Bible study setting; although that may seem like the easy way. We should look for teachable moments with our children; for one child that maybe while pitching a baseball together and for the other it may be while kicking a soccer ball. Reading books together can also stimulate gospel conversations. Mealtimes can be a natural opportunity to talk about things of God. Bedtime is another opportunity time for teaching. It is amazing what children will do to delay bedtime, but if the discussion is productive I always feel their character development is most important.

Be purposeful to talk about the specific character traits you want your child to have. You can decide each year what is most important for each child to learn that year. We should intentionally bring up character topics, such as honesty or how to treat others and discuss it with them during teaching moments when we have their full attention.

Be willing to grow in your own learning of who Christ is. Over the years, my understanding of who Christ is and how He relates to us and the world around us has continually grown. We have to allow our children to walk through those changes with us. We cannot be afraid to let them know we don’t have answers or that we were wrong. Search for answers together in the Bible, or seek godly counsel together.

Pray and trust Christ. I know plenty of examples where parents did everything I have suggested, yet they haven’t experienced the same results. I know that only God’s grace can really build godliness and every child has the ability to resist that grace. Pray, pray again, and ask others to pray with you for the spiritual development of your family.

Embrace your as your child’s primary influencer and spiritual leader. I know it is one of my responsibilities as a father to see that this plan is implemented. I am thankful for a supporting wife who has worked with me to balance my role with her more nurturing role (which she is excellent at completing). So far our daughter is following after God’s heart in her own way.

Do you have a plan for your parenting?

Carve out some time to pray, ponder, and plan your parenting strategies. If you need help, ask a parent you admire for counsel, or call a pastor to help you. It will take time and discipline to write and carry out your plan, but eternal matters are at hand. The results will be worth it!

I would like to hear your suggestions or thoughts.

Fellow Parent, Jonathan

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