“… and so he stole the hearts of the men of Israel.” 2 Samuel 15:6b
A number of years ago, a 41-year-old California high school teacher left his wife and children to live with his 18-year-old student. Similar acts have occurred way too often in the past number of years. It demonstrates the lack of marital and familial commitment with some adults as well as the vulnerability and naivety of some young people.
King David was perhaps the greatest king ancient Israel ever knew. And, yet, like all parents, he had both success and failure when it came to parenting. Absalom was one of his sons who, through the course of events, killed his brother, Amnon. For this reason he was kicked out of David’s kingdom only to be allowed to return later.
Absalom devised a secret plan to take David’s throne. As people came to see the king, Absalom stood by the road leading to the city gate endearing himself to each one, saying what they wanted to hear of how he could help them. He performed this ruse for four years over and over until the people loved him. 2 Samuel 15:6 says, “Absalom behaved in this way toward all the Israelites who came to the king asking for justice, and so he stole the hearts of the men of Israel.” Eventually Absalom’s trick worked, gaining a large following and forcing David to flee his kingdom.
The Barna Group, a research company who focuses on spiritual issues, found data that indicated about 6 out of 10 of those now in their 20s who had been churched at some point in their teen years were now out of the church or not engaged in activities like praying and reading the Bible. (www.barna.org)
There are no guarantees when it comes to raising children who walk with the Lord. Each child is unique and he or she ultimately is responsible, before the Lord, for his or her own life. However, here are three ways you can contribute to helping your children get on the path to walking with God for a lifetime.
First, train them in the ways of God. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Many parents skip right over “train” in this verse and automatically assume this means taking them to church and telling them a few Bible stories. Training children leads to the next point.
Second, spend a great amount of time with them, demonstrating your love. In order to train someone, you must spend time with him or her. Whether you are a single parent or there are two parents in the home, spend much time with your child sharing the life of Christ in you. They will know God by your love for them. (John 13:35)
Third, do not expect others to do it for you. Church youth groups are not responsible to raise our children for us. Proverbs 22:6 is directed to us, as parents, and not others. We are responsible to bring our children up in the ways of the Lord. Take responsibility today.
As parents, God has entrusted our children to us for a certain amount of time. Pray diligently for them and use the time you have with your child to guard his or her heart. “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)
William “Carey” Northington of One Master Ministries in Xenia may be contacted at OneMaster.org.