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Your child's incredible potential (part 2)

How may we best help our children attain their incredible potential in the coming Family of God?
Here are practical guidelines.


God does not give us a responsibility without revealing to us how to accomplish it.

When God dealt with ancient Israel, He gave the nation His commandments, statutes and judgments — His laws. In short, He gave them all the instruction they needed to achieve national greatness, though they didn't have the power of His Spirit to accomplish the goal.

In like manner, God has given us a special role to perform as parents. God could have designed another method of reproduction and family system of government. But He didn't. God ordained the family.

We as parents must learn to operate in a family atmosphere, for we will all be part of the God Family, which will live and rule as a family unit forever.

We who are called now have the role of the firstborn. Anyone who has been the firstborn of a large family knows the requirements of that role. The demands are great upon the first child to mature early and assist the parents in the care of younger children.

So is it also in God's plan!

God provides essential instructions to us as parents in order to comprehend and fulfill our responsibilities. Following are some of the major requirements we must fulfill as guardians and caretakers of our children.


Love them

The instructions in this area of love are manifold. The major commandment "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself' (Matt. 22:39) is a basic tenet of being a parent.

What commandment could apply more significantly to our children? There is no one who needs and requires love more than do our offspring. Outgoing concern must be demonstrated daily, whether for a newborn baby or a youth who just turned 15.

Physical requirements vary with our children's ages, but love is required continually. Affection, attention, outgoing concern are key ingredients in all relationships. But children most assuredly shrivel up and die inside without these things.

Most parents love their children a great deal, but many do not understand the needs of youths. Some compete with their children; others live their lives vicariously through them. Many will not let go of their children and allow them to develop and mature. .But the needs of children are ever changing. Love makes the growth transitions possible.

I knew well one family that was so possessive of its single offspring that the young man today, at age 40, is a dependent "child" on the one remaining parent. He never developed his own identity or became a mature individual. The parents protected and stifled him, not realizing the devastating result of denying him a normal growth process.

Some few parents abandon their newborn babies at birth. They did not want the baby. It only came as a natural consequence to selfish, unfeeling parents. Of course, many abandoned babies are born out of wedlock.

Still other parents retain possession of their babies but abandon them just the same, even though they dwell in the same household. They neglect the fruit of their marriage because they don't understand the needs of the children nor their parental responsibilities.


Prepare them for life

To love our children means to prepare them for life.

First, of course, to prepare them for this brief, physical, temporary, chemical existence by instructing them in the purpose of life from the Creator God's standpoint. God is reproducing Himself. Teenagers must know that God has a purpose for every human — that every human is to become like Him. But the greatest expression of our love is to do our part as physical parents to prepare our offspring for that ultimate relationship with God in the God Family.

Does this sound too spiritual?

The full understanding of this basic purpose of human life is spiritual, but we must plant and nourish the seed. Love must permeate our relationship with our children. We must love them at every age, at every stage in life, through every trauma and anxiety — not just when it is convenient.

If we want our children to be part of God's Family and view our role from that perspective, our parental responsibility takes on new meaning. If we ourselves want to be part of God's Family, we must take the performance of our responsibility as parents seriously!


Teach them

Solomon was the wisest man, apart from Christ Himself, who ever lived. God granted him wisdom to rule over Israel (I Kings 10:23-24). But Solomon did evil in the sight of God. He had great knowledge and wisdom, but lacked the necessary character to apply it in his own life.

When Solomon wrote the Proverbs to his son or sons, he could warn against a great many wrongs from firsthand experience. No doubt the Proverbs were written with great feeling.

God commands us to teach our children. He is specific as to what we should teach them. God commands us as parents to teach our children the commandments of God, that their lives may be prolonged (Deut. 6:1-2).

"And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up" (verse 7).

God is specific about both what we shall teach and when. God relates that it is imperative to speak of the things of God continually.

Why? It is by these teachings that our children learn of the basic necessities for life. Our children must be continually reminded of God, lest they forget. These are more than food, clothing and shelter; they include God's commandments, statutes and judgments and the meaning and purpose of life.

Children can learn anything and will. But we must be certain of what their educational diet consists just as surely as we are concerned about their physical diet.

Children are like sponges. They readily absorb virtually everything. We must provide an environment in which they absorb the proper and appropriate things.

Do we inspire and exude enthusiasm about the things of God? We have a tremendous example in the Old Testament. Moses was given the responsibility of teaching the children of all the Israelites who died in the wilderness. This was a new generation, who didn't personally experience all the miracles God used to deliver Israel out of Egypt and by which He had sustained them for 40 years.

Moses was to teach them, though he was not permitted to go into the promised land. God took away the leadership of Israel from Moses for a single, foolish sin. Moses struck the rock twice to cause it to deliver water, rather than speak to it as God commanded. Yet Moses had to teach the Israelites with conviction and inspiration, knowing he himself would not enter the promised land.

What a lesson for us!

We, too, must teach our children what God regards as important. We must do it because we, too, regard it as important and because we consider our responsibility a command from God. We must identify with God and His ways and teach them to our children.


Set an example

God disciplined Moses and had him relate it to all Israel. Moses had to communicate the incident and the penalty to all of the people, who numbered in the millions.

Moses related to the people that God was upset for their sakes, because Moses had sinned and had not given the glory to God (Deut. 3:26). God doesn't condone sin, even in His appointed leaders. God condemns sin because it destroys. It demands a penalty.

We as parents must set a godly example to our children. The most confusing thing parents can do to cause disrespect and disobedience is to be hypocritical.

Hypocrisy is the leaven of which we are all to rid ourselves (I Cor. 5:7-8). Christ condemned the Pharisees for their hypocrisy (Matt. 23).

There is not, and indeed cannot be, any respect when a parent teaches one thing but lives another. We can teach our children all day long, but the greatest impact on them comes from seeing how we live.

We see an outstanding biblical example in this respect. Both Judah and Israel had many leaders and kings. When these kings restored order and began to obey God, so did the people.

This is an outstanding example for us to follow, for we can obey God even in spiritual truths.