Correct Your Children Without Condemning Them
by Rick Warren
"Correct your children while there is still hope; do not let them destroy themselves." (Proverbs 19:18 NCV)
We all need correction at times, because no one is perfect. If I don't discipline my kids, it means two things:
I'm willing to participate in their destruction. Proverbs 19:18 says, "Correct your children while there is still hope; do not let them destroy themselves" (NCV). If I don't take the time to correct my kids and teach them new habits and the right way to behave and think, I'm actually setting them up to fail and be destroyed. Even worse, refusing to take the time to discipline our children is evidence of a lack of love in our heart. We don't think of it that way. Sometimes we're just too tired to fight another battle. But that reveals that we're putting our needs ahead of our child's needs. We need to take the time to discipline our kids.
How can we correct them in a way without condemning them?
Don't correct in anger. Ephesians 6:4 says, "Don't keep on scolding and nagging your children, making them angry and resentful. Rather, bring them up with loving discipline, with suggestions and godly advice" (LB). When I'm frustrated and angry with my kids, it feels good to let out that frustration; that release is an instant solution. But it does nothing for the long-term problem, and it strains the relationship between my kids and me. Instead of disciplining in anger, back away, calm down, get yourself under control, then come back and deal with the problem.
Watch your words. Ephesians 4:29 says, "Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that built up" (GN). Harmful words create hurtful memories. Those words that are spoken in anger and belittle our weaknesses and our faults and our failings are like knives in the heart. You don't want to leave harmful words in your family's memories. Instead, choose your words carefully, and speak in love.
A Parent's Prayer
Make this your prayer today and every day: "I will try to walk a blameless path, but how I need Your help especially in my own home, where I long to act as I should" (Psalm 101:2 LB).
Pray Continually for Your Children
by Rick Warren
"I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours." (John 17:9 NIV)
Jesus reflected the father heart of God when he prayed for the disciples. As a father or mother, you can pray that your children will focus on the five purposes of God.
God's five purposes for your children are the same as God's five purposes for your life. Jesus prayed for all five purposes in the lives of those he was leading: "I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours" (John 17:9 NIV).
We can pray that our children will live for Christ joyfully: "I pray these things while I'm still in the world so that they will have the same joy that I have" (John 17:13b GW).
We can pray that our children will grow strong spiritually: "I'm not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one" (John 17:15 NLT).
We can pray that our children will serve Christ effectively: "Make them ready for your service through your truth; your teaching is truth" (John 17:17 NCV).
We can pray that our children will experience fellowship personally: "My prayer is that they will be of one heart and mind, just as You and I are one, Father … and the world will believe You sent Me" (John 17:21 LB).
We can pray that our children will bring others to Christ regularly: "I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in Me because of their message" (John 17:20 TEV).
Talk About It
What are ways you can pray your children live for Christ? Grow strong? Serve Christ? Experience fellowship? Bring others to Christ?
Protect Your Children's Minds
by Rick Warren
"While I was with them, I kept them safe by the power of your name … I protected them ..." (John 17:12 TEV)
The mark of a spiritual leader is protection, so parents should protect the spiritual growth of their children. Jesus said, "While I was with them I kept them safe by the power of your name … I protected them" (John 17:12 TEV).
Jesus guarded the disciples' spiritual growth by protecting their minds. As a parent, it is your job to protect your children's innocence. This is a huge task in the culture we live in today. Children are not mini-adults, and we need to protect the innocence of our children as they're growing up. They cannot handle things like violence or sex. These things are heavy subjects for a little mind.
When our three kids were growing up, Kay and I were very strict with what movies they could see, what TV programs they could watch, and what books and magazines they could read. We got all kinds of grief from our kids for it.
When they were little and could only see a G-rated movie, they would say, "We want to go see this PG movie!" When they got a little bit older, they would say, "We want to go see this PG-13 movie!" We'd say, "You can when you're older, but right now you're not going to see it." And they ruthlessly criticized: "Dad! Mom! You guys are so narrow-minded! You're the only parents in the entire universe who are not letting their kids see this movie!"
It is amazing to me how Christian parents let their kids, even teenagers, see all kinds of things they have no business seeing. We should care about their minds. My three kids have grown up and they are happy, well-adjusted kids. Why? Because when they were growing up, their minds weren't filled with garbage and vulgarities.
Your children will be exposed to that soon enough in life. They don't need it at a young age. You have to protect what goes into their mind.
Guard Your Children's Spiritual Growth
by Rick Warren
"Nurture, guard, guide, and fold the flock of God that is your responsibility … Not domineering as arrogant, dictatorial, and overbearing persons ... but being examples, patterns, and models of Christian living ..." (1 Peter 5:2-3 AMP)
Jesus protected the disciples' spirits.
What does that mean for your children? You protect their dignity, their self-esteem, and their spirit. You realize the power of your words and that they can heal or hurt.
We say, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." That's absolutely wrong!
Words hurt more than sticks and stones. A child can break a leg or an arm, and it will heal, but some of you are still under a curse today because when you were growing up, your dad or mom said, "You're never going to amount to anything." And you're still trying to prove them wrong. You're still reacting to life instead of acting.
As parents we must understand the power of our words to hurt or to heal. A parent can crush a daughter with one sentence — or build that daughter up. The same is true with sons. John Eldredge, in his book "Wild at Heart," says most men go through life reacting to what I often call "the father wound." Every boy, as he grows up, wants to have his manhood affirmed, and the most important person to affirm it is his dad.
If he doesn't get it there, he tries to get his manhood affirmed in dozens of other ways. He lives his entire life trying to compensate for something his dad never said: "You're OK, son. You're a man. You're all right. You're valuable."
The Apostle Peter, though writing to pastors, gives advice that applies to all leaders, including moms and dads: "Nurture, guard, guide, and fold the flock of God that is your responsibility [that includes your kids] ... Not domineering as arrogant, dictatorial, and overbearing persons ... but being examples, patterns, and models of Christian living."
Let God Be God in Your Children's Lives
by Rick Warren
"In the same way that you gave me a mission in the world, I give them a mission in the world." (John 17:18 MSG)
Jesus released the disciples to serve God's purposes.
As a parent, I am responsible to protect my kids as they're growing up, but that doesn't mean I protect them from taking risks for the glory of God. You can be so over-protective that you do not release your kids emotionally or maybe even physically to do what God wants them to.
You say, "Sure, I want my kids to serve God, as long as they stay here in the area" or "Yeah, I want my kids to do what God wants them to do. They can follow his plan and purpose for their lives, as long as they live down the block. They can do whatever God says as long as they don't do something that's dangerous, where they could be hurt or killed."
It is natural as parents not to want your kids to be hurt. But let me ask you this very frank question: Are you willing to let God be God in your kids' lives?
Or, are you still trying to be God in their lives? You have to let them go. I've seen some parents try to control their children's lives even after they are married; yet, the Bible teaches that for marriage, "a man leaves his father and mother and is united with his wife, and they become one" (Genesis 2:24 TEV).
The point is this: It is God's plan for children to leave and, as parents, we must teach them while we have them, but then let them go to serve God's purposes.
Jesus said, "In the same way you gave me a mission in the world, I give them a mission in the world" (John 17:18 MSG). The whole goal of parenting is to eventually release your children. From the moment they are born, you are preparing them to be released into the world, not to hold onto them or control their lives for the rest of your life.