The 4 T's of Parenting
Let’s just start with being honest, parenting is harsh. There are some days I just don’t think I’m doing a good job. My kids might agree with that some days too. All joking aside though, when I read through the Bible, I see parents who were having a hard time too. Seems like Adam and Eve might have struggled because Cain and Abel definitely fought. Isaac might not have loved Jacob and Esau’s sibling rivalry. Jacob’s sons actually sold their brother Joseph. I’m betting he didn’t feel like “father of the year” when he eventually found that out. We read that Joseph and Mary even lost Jesus at one point. When I see all that (and more) in scripture, I see parenting has always been tricky. We press on, in spite of our difficulties, to try to raise our children as disciples of Jesus. Here are some things that I believe are part of my spiritual responsibilities as a father.
- TEACH - Teach them about God and His ways
“Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Proverbs 22:6 NKJV
While I believe the Church is vital to personal and family growth, don’t leave your child’s spiritual development entirely up to the church. I’ve heard people say that the Church has your child for 30 hours a year on average. It’s not hard to see that parents get far more time with their children than the church does. So the logical question is, who has the most influence in a child’s life? Obviously, the answer is the parents. We must become proficient at mentoring & modeling our faith. In my experience, the old saying “more is caught than taught” is so true.
We need to let our children see us:
⁃ Read the Bible
⁃ Go to Church
⁃ Forgive/Ask for Forgiveness
⁃ Show affection
- TESTIFY - Testify to them about God’s faithfulness
“These are the commands, decrees, and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children, and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy a long life. Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly
in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you. Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home, when you walk along the road, when you lie down, and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:1-9 NIV
We should tell them the stories of what we’ve seen God do in our lives. We tell our kids about a very specific time when we tithed anyway when we were broke and He miraculously provided. We also share with them a time when our 14-year-old was a baby and had come down with the swine flu. Back then it was a big deal and my wife and I both were told we had to quarantine at home with her for a week. The doctors wanted to prescribe her a medicine that could relieve her symptoms but warned us that it could potentially cause her to hallucinate and have other possible psychological side effects. We felt very uncomfortable with giving her the medicine. We took her home and prayed and instantly the fever broke. The Lord healed her. I believe we have a responsibility to testify to them about the things the Lord has done in our family.
- TELL - Tell them about God’s blessings
“The Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: “ ‘ “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” ’ “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”
Numbers 6:22-27 NIV
We praise our kids but from time to time I take extra time to call out the good in them as a blessing. I tell our son that he’s a good man before he reaches manhood. I’ve told our girls how proud I am of them because I hope to build their self-esteem so high that no “ordinary” guy will sneak into their hearts. I pray they will only respond to Godly young men who are pursuing the Lord. I bless them. In response to Numbers 6, two or three times we’ve even had an actual “blessing time” in our living room. I look at them and I bless them as a parent. A spiritual blessing tells them about God or the life He has called them to.
- TRUST - Trust them in God’s Hands
“I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life, he will be given over to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there.” 1 Samuel 1:27-28 NIV (Hannah dedicates Samuel to the Lord)
I remember the church services we had where we stood in front of a congregation of people and publicly dedicated our children to the Lord. We took it seriously when we gave our kids to the Lord and we believe it’d be dangerous to take them back. Our girls just went on a mission trip with The Awakening to Panama. For our 14-year-old, it was her first mission trip. She told us in an altar moment at a very young age that she felt a call towards missions. As parents,
were we nervous to send her out? YES! Are we going to take her back from the Lord? NO WAY! At some point, we have to trust the Lord who created and called her.
I’m confident these aren’t the only things that the Lord has for us to be successful spiritual parents but they have proven very beneficial for us. Again, parenting is harsh but the Lord has guidance for us in His Word and in His people as we lead our children to become disciples of Jesus.
Bishop Scott Hampton currently serves as the Conference Superintendent of the Great Plains Conference of the IPHC. He is also privileged to serve on the IPHC Council of Bishops, Discipleship Ministries Council ,and the Southwestern Christian University Board of Trustees. Scott, his wife Heather, and their children (Shanna, Karsyn, and Paxton along with granddaughter Kinsley) live in Amarillo, TX area.