// Lynette Hagin
MANY CHRISTIANS have become so wrapped up in their own work and life that they have neglected their highest calling—the spiritual development of their children. Parents have the most powerful influence in a child's life.
That gives those of us who are parents an awesome responsibility to prepare our children for success in life. I would like to give you a few guidelines on how to do that.
First and most important is to acquaint your children with the Heavenly Father. The verse my parents instilled in me—"Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matt. 6:33)—has been the guiding force of my life. I am so thankful they continually emphasized this principle to me. The repetition constantly reminded me that God must have first place in my life.
Second, parents need to begin training their children at birth. Did you know much of the foundation of a child's spiritual and character development is laid during infancy? Experts say that 50 percent of it is formed by the time he or she is three, and 75 percent by age five. Those facts may be startling, but they remind us that we must begin early to guide our children in their spiritual and character development.
Family devotions are an important part of spiritual development. Our family gathered for devotions every morning before school and read the Faith Food devotional published by our ministry. After making the daily confession in it, we would ask Craig and Denise what they wanted to come to pass. We then would encourage them to make their own personal confessions. It was always exciting to see those confessions become realities for them.
Child specialists agree that every human being has a need to be loved, and meeting that need is basic to proper development. A parent's love is always more important to a child than wealth, education, or any kind of material possession. But a parent's love is most important to a child when that child is the least lovable.
A word of caution about love—you should not condition your love upon your child's good behavior. A child's willingness to please should not determine parental love. The God-kind of love is unconditional. The most important thing is to love your children because they are yours—not because they play the trumpet well, are in the accelerated program at school, or are great at sports.
I can't emphasize enough these next three points. Don't demand perfection from your child. That is unreasonable. When children consistently fail to meet their parents' expectations, they lose confidence in themselves and in life.
Don't try to live your unfulfilled dreams through your children. Some parents do that by demanding their children do extremely well in an area in which the parents regret not applying themselves.
Don't compare children with their siblings. A child who grows up in the shadow of a brilliant sister or brother may have a hard time with self-image.
Something else I strongly encourage is that you attend church together as a family. Go to a church that meets the needs of each family member. This is especially important when your children are teenagers.
Your church should minister to the needs of the entire family, so keep your children in mind as you select which church to attend. If each family member becomes involved in the church, attending church will be meaningful and important to every one of you.
Lastly, prepare your children for their roles as adults. Children learn by imitation, so make sure you are giving them the right things to imitate—especially in marriage.
Teach them how to make good decisions, and train them in financial affairs. Believe in your children. Speak positive words into their lives. Remind them that with God they can succeed in life.
When a crisis comes involving your children, look to the Lord for direction. Trust Him to give you the right words to say and the right actions to turn that situation into a victory in your home.
FAITH IN ACTION
According to God's Word there is power in positive confession and prayer (Prov. 18:21; James 5:16b). Parents, make these confessions over your children to surround them with faith and love.
My children love the Lord with all their heart, soul, and might.
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength" (Deut. 6:5 NKJV).
My children are taught by the Lord and great is their peace.
"All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children" (Isa. 54:13 NKJV).
My children are increasing in wisdom, prestige, and favor with God and men.
"And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men" (Luke 2:52 NKJV).
God is giving my children knowledge, aptitude to understand, and wisdom to excel in school.
"As for these four young men, God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams" (Dan. 1:17 NKJV).
My children connect with others who love the Lord.
"Do not be deceived: 'Evil company corrupts good habits' " (1 Cor. 15:33 NKJV).
A PRAYER FOR PARENTS
PARENTS, LET THIS BE YOUR PRAYER.
Thank You, Lord, for Your wonderful gift of children. Fill me daily with Your wisdom, strength, love, and guidance. Show me how to nurture and prepare this child You have entrusted to my care for a successful life, in the Name of Jesus.