February 13, 2022
This article is based on Pastor Adrian Rogers' message, Raising Kids That Count.
Our chief desire for our kids should not be that they become wealthy or famous, but that they will love the Lord Jesus Christ and count in His cause. Would you like to have a gifted child? That is doable—you just have to cultivate the gifts.
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother; for they will be a graceful ornament on your head, and chains about your neck” (Proverbs 1:7-9).
If your children do not learn to respect God, they will not have even a modicum of genuine knowledge. “The righteous man walks in his integrity; his children are blessed after him” (Proverbs 20:7). Your children will learn more from your lifestyle than they will from your words. You don’t have to pretend perfection—your children already know you’re not perfect. They want to know that you are genuine. They watch to see how you handle your failures and your problems.
We are interested in our children’s grades, health, and popularity, but who is teaching them character?
“Hear, my children, the instruction of a father, and give attention to know understanding; for I give you good doctrine: do not forsake my law. When I was my father’s son, tender and the only one in the sight of my mother, he also taught me, and said to me: ‘Let your heart retain my words; keep my commands, and live’” (Proverbs 4:1-4).
There must be unconditional acceptance, regardless of children’s misbehavior. You may not accept what they do, but you accept them—and they need to know it, so that when they are in trouble, they won’t be afraid to come to you.
That unconditional love needs to be not merely words. Be constantly hugging them and holding them. Show them sympathy, and cry with them when they hurt.
“My son, let them not depart from your eyes—keep sound wisdom and discretion; so they will be life to your soul and grace to your neck. Then you will walk safely in your way, and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet” (Proverbs 3:21-24).
When you regularly encourage a child, you are giving that child confidence. Rather than trying to catch them doing something wrong, try to catch them doing something right!
There is a difference between praise and encouragement.
Praise will make a child think, “My parents are proud of me because of what I do.” But suppose sometimes he doesn’t do so well—what will that say to his mind?
Encouragement says, “I love you, and I am grateful for you—not necessarily because of what you achieved, but because of who you are.”
It may be a subtle difference but learn to encourage your children.
“My son, if you receive my words, and treasure my commands within you, so that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly” (Proverbs 2:1-7).
The corresponding passage is, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). Wise instruction is always joined to training. It is always good to have family worship, to start the day with the Word of God.
Kids today see no distinction between right and wrong. They don’t have the fixed standard that is given in the Ten Commandments.
Question: Do you think it is a disgrace that the Ten Commandments have been taken from schools and public places?
Second question: Do you have the Ten Commandments posted in your home?
Third question: Do you, parents, know the Ten Commandments?
“My son, keep your father’s command, and do not forsake the law of your mother. Bind them continually upon your heart; tie them around your neck. When you roam, they will lead you; when you sleep, they will keep you; and when you awake, they will speak with you. For the commandment is a lamp, and the law a light; reproofs of instruction are the way of life” (Proverbs 6:20-23).
We encourage our children to set goals for themselves, but we also need to give them limitations. Some things need to be denied. God put His children, Adam and Eve, in the Garden of Eden and gave them restrictions. No limitations implies that you have rejected that child, and that is the reason so many children are conquered by somebody else.
Don’t make a lot of little rules—make a few, big ones, and keep them. There are basically two big rules: 1. No dishonesty; 2. No disrespect.
He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him. The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness, but who can bear a broken spirit? The heart of the prudent acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge” (Proverbs 18:13-15).
If a child’s spirit is broken, it is terrible. You have to be willing to listen when a child wants to talk. Be ready when the child is ready and make time. Take that child (or grandchild) out for a meal. Take the child on a drive. Don’t be in a rush, and never be too busy to listen to your child.
“A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken. The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness. All the days of the afflicted are evil, but he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast. Better is a little with the fear of the LORD, than great treasure with trouble. Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a fatted calf with hatred” (Proverbs 15:13-17).
Let your home be filled with laughter. Be firm, be fair, and be fun. Laughter lubricates the home, so let your home ring with laughter. Not coarse, unclean laughter—"neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks” (Ephesians 5:4). Learn to laugh at yourself, and at your problems.
You can have a gifted child if you will give the child these seven gifts—a godly example, unconditional love, constant encouragement, wise instruction, reasonable restrictions, a listening ear, and a happy environment.