*This sermon was inspired by a sermon by Pastor Mickey Taylor of High Point Church of God in FL.
For all of you who are parents or step parents, please stand:
Sit down if you have ever sent your child out the door with the shoes on the wrong feet.
Sit down if you have ever said, “Do as I say but not as I do.”
Sit down if you have ever said, “If it doesn’t have mold on it, it won’t kill you.”
Sit down if you’ve ever looked at a crying kid and said, “Is it bleeding? Okay go back and play.”
Sit down if you have ever said, “This hurts me more than it hurts you.”
Sit down if you have ever done or said something to your kids and later thought, “That was a mistake.”
We’ve all blown it. When you buy anything, you get a manual and a warranty. When you have a child, you get a bag full of freebies at the hospital and they send you on your way. I want to give parents some tools this morning that will help them increase their effectiveness as parents. For the rest of you, what I am about to share are really relationship principles that can apply to all of our relationships. Each of you influences the life of a child, whether you are a parent or not, so I hope you’ll stay tuned in and allow God to put these principles deep within your spirit so that you’ll be able to act on them in your relationship with the students in your life.
Successful parenting is not about keeping our kids eyes from seeing what is X-rated around them because that would be impossible. It’s about instilling the right things in our child so that when they are surrounded by darkness, THEY are the light and they have built inside of them what they need to get out of the dark and to make the right choices.
What do we want for our kids?
Character-We want to instill in our kids the right moral compass by which to make decisions. We want them to know right from wrong and have integrity. We want them to have a Christ-like character.
Convictions-By the time our kids are 18, we want them to be solid in their beliefs. We want them to know God’s Word and be able to live God’s way without compromise rather than have them base their beliefs on their feeling in the moment. Convictions will keep their character in tact when no one else is looking!
Confidence-We want to raise kids who are self confident. Not cocky or arrogant, but we want them to feel good about who God created them to be.
Compassion-We want our kids see and care about the needs of others. We want our kids to grieve over the injustices in the world. When an earthquake strikes in Haiti will your kids care?
Competence-We want our kids to know their gifts and talents. We want them to see that they have a place in this world and we want them to excel at being them-at being who God created them to be.
1.Kids need to have beliefs. I have good news for you parents. You have great influence and control over what your kids believe! Kids need to know you and I believe in spiritual things and that you believe that we as people empowered by the Spirit of God can make a difference in the world.
It’s your job to be the parent. If you won’t be the parent, someone else will try. Your actions, your values are the greatest influence on the life of your child. Kids want their dad and mom to be their hero. Why? Because it’s God’s design.
Psalm 127:3 says “Children are a GIFT from the Lord. They are a reward from Him.” Parents, you have been given a gift. What will you do with it? Verse 4 of Psalm 127 says children are like a weapon. We have an opportunity to instill beliefs in our children which will make them weapons to advance the Kingdom of God. Children are not to be seen as an interruption or a burden. They are worth our time and energy and effort. They are a gift from the Lord.
It is hard to be a parent. It is a full-time job. Is it a higher calling than what you do for a living? It should be. Parents, you get to be the number one influencer in helping shape what your child will believe.
2. Kids need people who will be present in their life. They need you to spend time with them. One major factor in unhealthy kids’ lives is the lack of time their parents or significant people spend with them. You can’t be selfish and be a parent. Kids require much time and energy if you are going to get parenting right.
God knows we are wired to experience presence. That’s why we read in John 1:14 “God became flesh and dwelt among us.” He came here. He came to spend time with us and be present with us. Presence isn’t just being in the same room with someone. It’s being involved with our kids and being interested in what they are doing. If you show an interest in your child’s life, you will be the one they come to for advice and help later.
What do you need to sacrifice that might be taking time away from your kids? Schedule time to be together as a family. One day you’ll wish you had made time. Turn off of the cell phone when you are in the car with your kids. Use that time to talk. Look them in the eye when they talk rather than continue typing on your computer.
Give them feedback when they tell you a story. Ask questions even though they have already told you all of the details! They want to know that you heard them.
3. Kids need you to make memories with them. Good memories will always trump the bad ones. My idea of baking is premade dough that you can break and bake. This week, Hannah had a friend visiting from Cincinnati and they decided they wanted to make chocolate chip cookies from scratch. I’d rather go to the dentist for the entire day than making cookies from scratch! I can hardly tell the difference between baking soda and baking powder. The thought of flour all over the floor when it’s all over just makes me tired thinking about it. But my daughter asked not just to make cookies. She asked for some of my time to create a special memory for her Cincinnati friend and her. So, one evening this week, I made a memory with my daughter.
Some of you have memories of abuse, pain, and negative situations. I am so sorry. Memories make up the foundation of who we are. Memories are important to God. Why do you think he instituted things like communion for us to observe? Didn’t he say, “This do in remembrance of me?” Memory keeps us connected to people long-term.
What will your children remember about their childhood? What you are doing now will dictate that. Grandparents, you aren’t exempt. Will they remember a grumpy grandparent or someone who made fun memories with them?
Build memories through making up traditions and by making pictures and videos of special events. Take a night in the next month and show your kids pictures from your childhood or from their birth. Every picture tells a story which provides a great opportunity for you to talk to you kids. Tell them about your memories.
Make taking a vacation a priority. You need to have concentrated time to relax and have fun together. Camp in your backyard if you can’t afford to go away. Create adventures with your kids. Send them on a scavenger hunt. Plan a family talent show. But make memories together that will keep them connected to you long-term.
4. Kids need encouragement.
You can’t over encourage someone. None of your kids will ever say, “Stop encouraging me. I’ve had enough.” We all need encouragement. One thing I heard as a little girl, even from my parents was, “Sticks and stones can break your bones, but words can never hurt you.” That is ridiculous. That’s the biggest lie we’ve ever perpetuated. I can recall unkind and mean spirited words that were said to me in my childhood in an instant.
Proverbs 12:18 says, “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Provide health and healing for your kid through encouraging words.
Our brain processes physical and emotional pain almost exactly the same. We know this, yet we continue to say words that leave scars and are negatively shaping who our kids become. We say things about our kids like, “This is our shy kid. This is our challenging kid. This is our smart kid. This is our drama queen. This is the kid that helped us know we were finished having kids.” When we say those things, we reinforce in our kids exactly what we are saying about them. We have to be careful with our words because they impact our child’s destiny. They impact their destiny because they shape who they are and who they are will dictate what they think they can or can’t accomplish.
Work on catching your kids at doing something right or well. This is something I have to work on myself. I can look back on the day and count the number of times I said, “Why didn’t you turn off the light when you left the room? Why didn’t you turn off the TV when you were finished? Why didn’t you put your wet swimsuit in the laundry room?” It’s easy to count up what our kids haven’t done or haven’t gotten right, but if that’s all they hear from us, they’ll take those words and begin to believe they are losers. Is that what you want for your child?
Picture your child with a tattoo on their forehead that says, “Encourage me,” and encourage them beyond performance. We have to move beyond superficial encouragement. “Nice shirt. Nice hair” are good places to start, but we need to move to deep levels of encouragement with our kids. If we don’t, they will only hear “Good job” or “Shame on you” which will train kids to be approval seekers.
We have to be able to offer more than “Good job” when they succeed and “bad job” when they fail. When a kid steps up to the plate in baseball, they’ll either get a hit or strike out. Rather than focus on the performance, say something like, “I just love watching you play baseball.” That way, the encouragement isn’t about what they did, but it’s about who they are to you. When your child brings a scribbled picture to you, rather than say, “I know you can stay in the lines better than that say, “Show me how you did that” and let them crawl up into your lap feeling good that they now get to show you their skill. Encouragement says, “I love you regardless of your performance.”
5. Kids need positive and caring role models.
Everyone needs a role model. Every one of you is involved in the life of a child. Students, our church kids are watching you. My kids are watching you. I’m asking you to do your best to get it right.
Parents, remember you are the number one influence in your kids’ life. How you treat your spouse, how you resolve conflict, how you treat strangers, how you serve or not serve in the church, how you handle your finances, how you tip your server, how you deal with someone who cuts you off in traffic—all of your life is on display.
Your life is bugged 24/7 and your kids will become what you are. If your kids don’t see character, compassion, confidence, conviction, and competence, they won’t come to display them either.
What are you modeling? You’ve got to model integrity. Cheating is always on the rise in schools. Why? Is it because classes are getting harder? Perhaps kids have learned how to lie and cheat at home. For example, the phone rings and your child answers and you say to your child, “Tell them I’m not here.” You take your kids to the movies and you say, “Don’t tell them how old you really are. You can get in for the kid’s price. You still look ten.” Someone gives you too much change back at Speedway. Do you pocket it saying, “Well, it was their mistake” or do you take it back?
Church, we have an integrity problem not only in our culture, but in the church as well. One lie of our culture is that you won’t get caught or that it’s only a lie if you get caught.
I Chron. 29:17 “I know my God that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity.”
When you blow it with integrity, apologize to your kids. Apologies are an act of integrity.
Son, I shouldn’t have yelled at you. Daughter, I shouldn’t have used those words with you. Kids, I shouldn’t have treated our server like that. Please forgive me. When you make that kind of apology, you are teaching your kids integrity. Integrity isn’t being perfect, but being willing to make things right when you aren’t.
You are also role modeling your faith or your lack of faith. Your kids will learn to pray by hearing you pray. They won’t see the Bible as important to read if they never see you reading yours. Don’t be surprised if they quit going to church when they grow up and leave home if church was one of many options for your family while they were growing up on Sunday morning.
Deut. 6:5-8 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
Those of you who work with our children’s and youth ministries, I love you! You are acting also as role models to our kids and God will use your integrity, encouragement and faith to help anchor them.
6. Kids need discipline. They need boundaries. Biblical discipline is guidance, not punishment. Hebrews 12 has a lot to say about biblical discipline. Discipline has to have an instructive purpose. It’s not a way to get your frustration out as a parent. Discipline has to have an instructive purpose and love has to accompany discipline. Proverbs 3:11-12 “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, 12 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” We see in this verse that love and discipline go hand in hand.
Prov. 29:15 says that “ The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.” We must discipline our children. However, some words of caution:
Be delicbate with discipline. Eph. 6:4 tells parents not to keep nagging and riding their kids about things. It will make your kids resentful. If you want to make angry kids that run from you, operate in extremes. Yell and scream or constantly nag at them. That will create an angry kid. Something else that will make an angry kid is a parent who never disciplines because kids grow up not knowing where the boundaries are. It creates internal frustration that leads to anger. Any time you operate in extremes you will lose.
Don’t discipline in anger. Discipline in anger will produce angry kids. You might gain control of your child for a second, but you’ll lose their respect long-term.
“Spare the rod, spoil the child?” The term “rod” isn’t something to spank someone with, but it is to guide them. “Thy rod and they staff, they comfort me.” Discipline is supposed to give direction.
Be wise with discipline. Think through your discipline. Think of what you are saying when you discipline. “If you hit your sister again, I’m going to smack you.” What is that? Those kinds of rash comments teach them that because you are bigger and in control you somehow have the right to hit them. Every child is different. So make the discipline meaningful for each child. What will work for one may not work for another.
7. Kids need affection. Emotionally healthy kids have been given lots of affection. If their need for touch isn’t fed in appropriate ways, kids will develop emotional distance from others. Dads and moms, kids need your affection. If you don’t give appropriate affection to your boys, they won’t know how to express themselves when they grow up and your girls will express themselves sexually. It’s especially important for dads to show their kids affection.
I John 3:18 admonishes that we need to stop just saying we love each other and that we have to show it by our actions. “Well, pastor, I’m just not touchy feely.” Neither am I, but I am adult and if my children need affection then I am responsible to give it to them whether I am wired to do so or not.
When your kids become teenagers that’s not the time to step back from giving them affection. That’s when they need us to come closer whether they realize it or not.
The New Living Translation of Romans 12:10 says-“Love each other with genuine affection.” Your kids need cuddle time and hugs and touches on their shoulder. Don’t withhold it from them.
8. Kids need responsibility. If they don’t develop it they exhibit the following:
Apathy-They don’t care if they succeed in relationships. They don’t care if they do well in school. Parents, we need to stop solving all of our kids’ problems. Why are we always cleaning up their messes? How else will they learn about responsibility and consequences.
Blame-It’s not my responsibility. I actually had an adult student in my online worship class which I teach twice a year that told me the reason they didn’t submit any work for week one was because they didn’t know the class had started. They expected a reminder email. Seriously. It was the online education department’s class’s fault that they didn’t get started on their work on time. Parents, we teach our kids to blame when we say things like, “Honey, you got a bad grade because the teacher is horrible. You didn’t get to play in the game because the coach is dumb.”
Care for me mentality. We never force our kids to carry their own weight. They don’t become independent.
Let’s allow our kids some consequences. If the kid forgets the cleats, they miss a game. So what? They won’t do it again. They’ll learn. In the grand scheme of life it isn’t a big deal.
Proverbs 27:12 says “A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.”
When we don’t allow kids to experience natural consequences they will remain a simpleton. Some of you are the nicest, kindest human beings. You say things like, “I’ll just help them this once. They have plenty of years to learn.” If that is you, you are crippling your kids. You aren’t preparing them for life’s realities. They will always be takers and never givers. It’s alright if your kid has to sit out on a few things. They’ll learn.
9. Kids need to have fun with caring adults. This generation is stressed to the max.
Proverbs 17:22 “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” It’s good for us to have fun. Christians ought to be setting the pace in the world of fun. Make sure you schedule times of fun into your family routine.
We had just put a new gym in our church when my brother was in junior high. One Saturday, we were at the church for some reason and my brother went into the gym to play basketball. Not knowing he was going to be on a gym floor shooting hoops, he was in some other kind of shoe than rubber soled shoes and one of the “trustees” who happened to be there ripped my brother a new one for not having the right shoes on while he was on the new gym floor. Don’t you just want to tell people like that to “lighten up and get a life?”
We love to hide around the corner and wait for our kids only to jump out and scare them. We enjoy being silly. It really bonds us with our kids.
10. Kids need a peaceful home. Not a perfect home, but a peaceful one. Would your kids describe your home as a peaceful home? Kids are in a battle all day long. They battle an x-rated culture, peer pressure, body image, fitting in, etc. There are battles going on all of the time. Their home needs to be a place to retreat where they can drop their battle gear at the door. They need to be in a safe, peaceful and loving environment in order to better handle the pressures on the outside.
What does a peaceful home look like? Discipline that doesn’t include yelling. Boundaries, but not a lot of rules. A place where their friends are allowed to come and hang out. For those of you who are married, a dad and mom who are madly in love with each other and show it. That builds confidence in your kids. It creates peace in them. A place where there is freedom from comparison to other siblings. A place where your kids can be themselves and don’t have to pretend. How can we turn up the volume of peace in our home? We first have to experience God’s peace. We have to be peace filled people. Once you have peace with God, you can have peace with others.
You can jumpstart peace into your home by asking Jesus to come into your life and then into your home.
PLEASE GO TELL PASTOR WENDY AND THE PRESCHOOL TEACHER IT IS TIME FOR THE CHILDREN TO COME INTO THE SANCTUARY AND STAND AROUND THE PEREMETER.
Very quickly the children will be escorted into the sanctuary. They will stand around the perimeter of the sanctuary and if you are their parent or guardian, I will invite you to go to them as we pray a special blessing on them and on all of the families of our church. All of the students who are here, please come and stand across the front so that your family members can pray with you as well. Dads and moms, I encourage you to lay hands on your kids and as I pray, pray that God will help you be the kind of caring adult your child needs.