Most Americans do not consider their family a top priority. A recent survey by the Barna Research Group answered the question, “Has the economy influenced Americans’ priorities?” by reporting that the downturn in the economy is mirrored by a downturn in commitment to the family. The percentage of Americans who say their top priority is family has declined from 51% in 2006 to the current level of 45%. Or, to put it another way, 55% of Americans don’t consider family their top priority. In light of this amazing fact; it is not surprising that only 12% of adults now say that faith is their top priority (down from 16% in 2006).
It is my opinion that these findings highlight a lack of spiritual direction in the home. As our world creeps closer and closer to eternity and impending judgment, we need to take seriously our Lord’s commands concerning the family. Solomon, the wisest man to ever walk the face of the earth, shared sufficient direction for all of us today, if we desire to have homes that are abounding in the work of the Lord: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
Direction in the Home Must Begin Early
All too often parents with young children think that it really doesn’t matter how they train their children because the critical years start once they become a teenager. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. When God chooses to bless a home with children, parents have a sacred responsibility to “train up a child in the way he should go.” The training must be with purpose. If this is not done there are unavoidable consequences.
There are many people today who do not give much importance to discipline or direction. Discipline or structure in the home, in the form of rules, must be enforced if our children are to learn the life-lessons we want for them. “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame” (Proverbs 29:15). Too many parents in our society are not willing to admit their inconsistencies regarding the training of their children.
Discipline in the Home Must Come from God’s Word
Otherwise, we have no foundation on which to build a life for God. Teaching your children to be obedient to you helps them understand the importance of obedience to the Word of God. As we put into practice the principles that we find in God’s Word, we can find the direction that we need. Very often, adults who don’t follow the ways of the Lord did not learn as children the need to have the Word of God as their central focus. Psalm 119:10–11 provides a key that should be applied in childhood: “With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”
Are you training your children to use God’s Word in order to make wise decisions? This training provides your children with a spiritual offense. When Ephesians talks about the armor of God the only offensive weapon given is the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. If you want your children to be able to fight the devil, their own flesh, and the world, impart to them this sacred Book! Help them to realize there is only one way in which they should go and it is God’s way.
When your children are older, you may see the fruit of your labor in their selection of mates. Do not stand idly by when you as a parent see that your child is in a dating relationship that is not God’s will.
Christians are not to have fellowship with darkness, which refers to those who are not in the family of God. If my child begins dating someone who is unsaved, it is my responsibility as a parent to stop that relationship because it is not according to the direction laid out by our Lord.
If your child has already gone astray, I encourage you to not give up hope. God is all-powerful and able, in His timing, to use the seeds that you planted in your child’s youth to bring him back into God’s will. Remember the prodigal son who, after a season of riotous living, returned to his father who had never lost hope and welcomed his son with open arms. Don’t give up on your wayward son or daughter, but determine to put your hope in the Lord.