Raising children is no easy task. To paraphrase something our pastor once told us, our children don’t arrive here with instruction manuals tied around their ankles. We are entrusted with these little people whose lives are filled with purpose and destiny in Christ, and have the great privilege to lead them into relationship with the Father through Christ. We also have the responsibility to teach them His ways and His truth so that they can navigate around the many lies and pitfalls in this world and stay on track with God’s calling for their lives. Raising Godly children takes great intentionality, consistency and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. It also takes a community of believers helping one another.
Last month, Lajuan and Erica Stoxstill Diggs led a powerful and informative Topical Study on Tips for Raising Godly Children. In that session, LaJuan and Erica shared some of their personal testimony of how the Lord, through prayer and the help of their pastor and other individuals, taught them principles for raising their 3 sons. Kristal and I were both convicted and encouraged by the teaching and recognized some areas where we need to grow and adjust as parents to three young children ourselves. In this blog, we will share some of the main takeaways that we got from the Study in the hope that it may help some of you all as well that have children, or may be planning to have children.
Grounding them in the Word
Throughout the teaching, Lajuan and Erica continually emphasized grounding our children in the Word of God and the Gospel. They shared that they began to sit their children down from a young age and read the Word to them. They did this on a regular basis. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation and through the finished work of Christ we can have victory in every area of life. This is true for our children. Our children are winners and overcomers in Jesus Christ. We ground our children in the Word by reading the Word to them and speaking the Word over them and around them daily and having them repeat and speak the Word themselves. Lajuan and Erica taught that it is important for children to speak and hear the Word out of their own mouths so that they become established in it. This is part of meditating on the Word and roots and establishes the Word deep in their heart. (See Psalms 1 and Joshua 1:8) They will be able to draw upon it as they grow and mature and encounter life. Through developing their own relationship with the Word they are led into fellowship with God.
Modeling Christ before Them
Lajuan and Erica taught that our children are reflections of us and what we live. They observe everything we do and say. We teach our children to believe who the Lord says they are in Him and to believe and trust God when facing the circumstances in their own lives by living that example before them ourselves. When we face adversity with prayer, faith and the Word as children of God instead of grumbling and complaining, our children will see that. (See Phil 2:14) We also need to teach our children to stand in who they are in Christ. Lajuan and Erica shared a recent testimony where their oldest son Eric suffered a severe knee injury while playing football, tearing multiple ligaments in his knee. The doctors’ prognosis involved many months of extensive rehab and recovery, but Eric, because of the training and teaching he had received from his parents and his personal relationship with Christ, believed for healing in his knee and was back running in less than 2 months. His testimony has served as an encouragement to others, children and adults alike and is an example of believing God’s Word over our natural circumstances.
Discipline and Obedience
Lajuan and Erica also taught on the importance of discipline and obedience. They shared that they taught their children early on the blessings that come with following the Lord and the consequences that arise from not obeying Him. God’s Word has promises of life and protection for children who obey their parents (See Exodus 20:12, Deuteronomy 5:16, Colossians 3:20). Part of training our children is disciplining and correcting them when they are disobedient or doing things they should not. This should always be done without harshness and in love, for their good, so as to not break their spirit. This means that we do not emotionally (or physically!) beat them down and oppress them which results in them losing their joy, motivation and sense of purpose and self-esteem. We also need to be flexible, as children have varying personalities and one form of discipline may work for one child but not another. This is something I have had to learn personally with our oldest child, Elliott. Elliott is high energy and very outgoing, yet also very sensitive. He likes to push and test the limits at times to try and see what he can get away with. I’ve learned that Elliott needs consistent and firm discipline to learn what he can and cannot do, but that it has to always be in love and I cannot allow myself to get frustrated with him, because then I do not discipline him in the right spirit. If I find myself getting frustrated, I need to make my own self-correction so that I can then correct him in the proper way.
Something Lajuan and Erica taught their children that really resonated with Kristal and I is that they taught them that their ‘No’ is just as good as their ‘Yes’. Meaning, when one of their children asked for something and the answer was ‘No’, they helped their children to understand that the answer of ‘No’ was out of love for them and having their best interests at heart. When children understand this, they can have confidence that their parents are acting in their best interests and not merely trying to spoil their fun. They may not understand all of our reasons for saying no, but we should make every effort to give them understanding. This will develop trust and security.
Seeking the Holy Spirit in Prayer
The cornerstone to all of the above principles is prayer. In Proverbs 8:12-14, the Holy Spirit tells us that He is wisdom and understanding, and that with His wisdom comes strength. Out of His wisdom, the Holy Spirit will give us the knowledge we need to raise our children and with that knowledge, understanding. Then because we have understanding, His wisdom becomes our wisdom and we have the strength or the ability to make the right decisions as it comes to raising our children. Each child has a specific set of personality traits, attributes, giftings, talents etc. and the Holy Spirit knows all of these things intimately. He will help us teach and train each of our children in the way that they should go, and has promised that when they are old they will not depart from it. (See Prov 22:6)
The Holy Spirit will also lead us in how to pray for our children as they are progressing through different stages of childhood. The Bible tells us in Romans 8:26 that He will help us pray when we don’t know what or how to pray as we should. A large part of this is praying in the spirit, or in other tongues. (1 Cor 14: 2, 14) Praying in the Spirit is not the subject of this post, and is something that Kristal and I can provide more resources on in the future for anyone that may have questions or desire understanding. I will just say in short that when we pray in the spirit, the Holy Spirit who has taken up residence on the inside of our reborn human spirit, prays the perfect will of God back to God the Father through us, bypassing our thoughts and intellect. How awesome is that?! One of the best things we can do for our children is pray in the spirit concerning them as we will be praying God’s perfect will for them.
There is more that can be shared from the teaching, but I feel like I’ve already hit you with a lot J I want to say thank you again to LaJuan and Erica for leading the study and sharing all of the insights that they did. God has promises of a hope and a future for each of our children and as we seek Him concerning them, He will help us teach, train and guide them into fellowship with Him, which is for their good and for His Glory.
Look out for posting of confession scriptures provided by the facilitators.