Although Paul was addressing the people of Thessalonians, I find this scripture a hallmark of great parenting advice. Let’s look at the 3 pieces of advice that Paul give us in raising our children today.
1. We should be “Encouraging.” If we want to raise children who are confident and not afraid to take risks and be their authentic self then we need to encourage them and not just once in awhile when circumstances call for a pep talk. We should intentionally encourage them every day so that our positive words are ingrained in their minds and hearts so it will manifest in their actions. Encouragement can be subtle, but I say be blatant about your encouragement! Let your children know how they are special, they are uniquely created by God and that they can do anything when they have Christ in their lives. In a world where are kids are groomed to compete it is important that we allow them to be themselves and encourage them to do so. When they are about to give up its up to you to be their cheerleader. Give them the words that affirm their confidence and raise their self esteem not in a haughty way but in a way that reminds them that they are a child of God and are capable of amazing things! A mom has the power to build up and edify their children, but unfortunately we can also tear them down and break their little spirits. Choosing encouragement gives them the inspiration and motivation to flourish in all circumstances.
2. Let us “Comfort,” our children. The one thing I love about being a mother is the ability to comfort my daughter when she is feeling scared, unsure, or sad. Our kids need our comfort and as moms I believe that god has graciously given us the gift of nurturing. I can still remember when I was younger being upset about what some kid did to me and running to my mom. It was summer and I can still remember lying my head against her bare arms and feeling safe and loved. The first person I still go to at 42 when I need comforting is my mom. By letting our children know that we are there for them unconditionally we provide a refuge, a safety net, and a haven for them to seek solace in so they don’t try to find comfort in the destructive places, people or things that are so ready available in our world.
3. “Urge” them to live lives worthy of God who calls them to his kingdom and glory. This is an invaluable piece of parenting advice that has an impact on their eternal life. How do we urge our children to live lives worthy of God? Well, first we have to be a role model. Are we perfect? No. Will we sin until the day we die? Yes. But, can we try to show our children our love for Christ and our desire to live a life that pleases him? Absolutely! We have tremendous influence over our children and we can use it to urge them to live for God. We can do this through making our home one that honors God, we can take them to church and be an active member of the body of Christ, we can encourage them to love the scriptures by reading the bible to them or teaching them to set aside time to study the scripture by doing it ourselves. Teach them the power of prayer by praying with them and not just before bedtime and mealtime.
In urging our children its necessary to utilize the other two pieces of advice. We must encourage them to be counter cultural in a world that is is direct opposition to God and the scriptures. We also need to be there to comfort them when they fall and they will fall. Just as our heavenly father comforts and forgives us. We need to exemplify his grace and explain to our children how gracious the Lord is to them in their spiritual walk. Nurture those gifts you see in them that will build the body of Christ and bring awareness of those gifts to your kids. Tell them what you see in them that will urge them to continue on their own God path.
I can not stress enough how this last piece of advice is the cornerstone in my opinion to Christian parenting. We can’t make them follow any path and ultimately God is in control, but we can be obedient and do whatever we can to excite our children about living a life for God and to inspire them through our encouragement and through our own lives.
Again, I’m always astonished at the how the scriptures continue to guide us and provide us with sound instruction in parenting and all aspects of our life!