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What Can You Do to Prepare Your Children for “the World"?

September 29, 2020
By Stephen Loeffler

“Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth Psalms” (127:4). 
 

It was Christmas morning, and I was 12 years old. Wrapping paper was scattered throughout the room, collateral damage from the frenzy of Christmas excitement. All that was left to open was a small white envelope with my name on it and instructions to “open in private” written in parentheses. I remember sitting alone in my room examining my father's handwriting that covered the pages, wondering how long it took him to write. It was immediately special to me. In this letter, my dad called me to begin preparation for manhood. He was commissioning me to take ownership of my preparation in becoming a man who desired to honor God with my life. Written in the letter was a father's blessing and a promise that he would walk beside me, pray for me, and pray for the woman that I would one day marry. He encouraged me to walk with God and to let His Word direct my paths, whatever the circumstance. That Christmas, my father's words initiated a new chapter in our relationship, and in my life. A chapter of preparation for how to walk with God in a broken world, and a calling to be sent into the world with a purpose.

Before and after that letter was written, my father has consistently communicated and modeled a biblical approach to preparing me for the world. Twenty-five years later, I still have the letter and an understanding of the power of intentional preparation for the world.

Three aspects are key to helping your children prepare for the world. You have to understand what it means to prepare them for “the world,” understand their purpose, and every Christian’s purpose, as set by God, and understand that perseverance will be involved in this.

Understand Preparation 

First we must understand that “preparation for the world” is different from “protection from the world.” Protection from the world often measures success by what our children don’t do in the world. Students not cursing, not drinking, not doing drugs, etc., become the marks by which we, as parents, grade ourselves on raising our children. However, this is neither an adequate approach, nor a biblical one. The calling God has given to parents is to train up our children in biblical truth. We are to give them a firm foundation of faith and a biblical lens through which to view the world. That foundational truth starts with understanding that God’s ideal intentions for us in creation were twisted and broken by the sin of rebellion within us. God then shows us the lengths He has gone to redeem and restore our relationship with Him through Christ.

Essentially, we’ll never be able to protect our children from the world because the sin that courses through the world is the same sin that resides within us. So preparing our children to deal with the external temptations and sins of this world ultimately begins with them learning how to deal with the internal temptations and sins within themselves.

How do we prepare instead of protect children? Here are a few thoughts…
  • Be intentional to explain the reality of sin in our lives that leaves us with a continual need for Jesus as our only Savior.
  • Be intentional to empathize the brokenness in their own hearts, connecting it to the cause of the fundamental brokenness in the world.
  • Be intentional to equip them to interpret the world through the biblical lens of Scripture, as they become exposed to more of the world and its brokenness.

Understand Purpose

It is imperative that we clearly and continually articulate the child’s purpose in the world. Begin with the end in mind. Attempting to prepare your child for the world, without a clear understanding of their purpose in the world, will quickly lead to confusion and frustration. In Christ’s commission we find our ultimate purpose in this world; to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that Christ has commanded” (Matthew 28:19-20). This purpose is played out in classrooms, homes, businesses, churches, hospitals, and in a million more places, in a million different ways every day.

Psalm 127 compares your children to “arrows in the hands of a warrior.” With this image in mind, we understand that God’s purpose for your child is not to be protected from the world, but to penetrate the world for the glory of God. We are called to prayerfully prepare our children with a biblical foundation, point them to Christ's commission, and ultimately send them into a broken world to glorify God and make disciples of Christ. Wherever our children go, whatever they do, their purpose remains the same.

How do we instill purpose into our children? Here are a few thoughts…
  • Be intentional to explain God’s purpose for their lives and how glorifying God is tied to everything they do.
  • Be intentional to emphasize their calling to be ambassadors for Christ, sent into the world with a message of redemption and reconciliation to God.
  • Be intentional to exemplify a culture penetrating life for your student to observe and learn from.

Understand Perseverance

It is in Christ that we find our identity and purpose, which fuels perseverance. Too often, parents today focus the preparatory years on their child’s ability (sports, academics, performance, etc.) instead of their child’s identity (who they are in Christ). If the child’s abilities are taken away one day, or opportunities to use those abilities dry up, they are left searching for their identity. It is imperative that we consistently remind our children of their identity in Christ, and that He has a purpose for their lives.

To adequately prepare your child for the counter-cultural mission of proclaiming Christ to the world, they will need to be equipped to persevere. Jesus tells us that we will all have trouble in this world, but to take heart because He has overcome the world (John 16:33). Trouble in your child’s life is guaranteed. So is Christ’s presence and power. We need to teach our children to lean into Christ and become dependent upon His ability, not their own. The perseverance of your child’s faith, as they encounter trials and tribulation, will depend upon where they place their identity, not their ability.

How do we help our children persevere? Here are a few thoughts…
  • Be intentional to explain who they are in Christ and the calling He has placed upon their life.
  • Be intentional to emphasize their identity in Christ, apart from their abilities, successes, or failures.
  • Be intentional to emulate Jesus in continually loving and praying for them as they go out into the world and encounter trials and tribulations.
As parents, let’s take the time to explain these truths to our kids. Let’s take the time to empathize key aspects of our faith. And let’s take the time to equip them, exemplify penetrating our culture, and emulate what being a Christian in “the world” looks like. These seem like high callings to us as parents, but we can, in fact, “do all things through Christ who strengthens us” (Phil. 4:13).

 

Stephen Loeffler has been a leader and educator in the church and secular world for over 15 years and has taught at Christian High School for 3 years. He has a B.A. in Christian Education from Hannibal University, minoring in Youth Ministry, and a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Covenant Seminary. Stephen also served for 7 years as an officer in the Marine Corps until resigning his commission as a Captain in 2016.

Posted in Elementary
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BLESS: A Systematic Weekly Method to Pray for Your Child

August 17, 2020
By Terry Reichert

BLESS: A Systematic Weekly Method to Pray for the Whole Child 

Christian parents often desire to pray for their children, but having a consistent time and method set aside to do that can get lost in our day-to-day busy lives. Many wonderful tools are available to help us pray for our children. My daughters are 28 and 25, and a tool I relied on heavily to help guide my prayers was a book called The Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian. It was a wonderful tool, but once I I returned to the workforce life got a little hectic around our house. I desired to find a systematic method to pray for them that could easily be on my mind and would be varied enough to encompass the whole child. I’m not sure where I heard about the B.L.E.S.S. acronym, but it has certainly been an easy, effective, and thorough tool throughout the years to help me pray for my daughters, students, friends, and family.
Here’s how it works with some specific suggestions for each day’s topic to get you started: 
B - on Monday pray for things related to their Body 
  • their health and safety 
  • to have an appropriate view of their own body 
  • to have a desire to take care of their body, eat right, and exercise 
  • that others would respect and protect their body 
  • that God would help them to flee physical temptations 
  • that God would make us aware of anything we need to know about their health and well-being 
  • that they would always use their body to honor and glorify God 
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies” (I Corinthians 6:19-20).
 
L - on Tuesday pray for things related to their Labor
  • for diligence and progress at school (because when you are young, school is your #1 “job”) 
  • that they would have the ability to learn and understand challenging concepts 
  • that they would love to learn and grow and see their own progress 
  • that God would give them a desire and gifting for their particular future career path 
  • that their work ethic and integrity would shine in all endeavors  
  • that when they have a job, God would use them in that environment to share the gospel 
  • that they would have a healthy view of money and acknowledge that God is the source of our income 
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:23-24). 
 
E - on Wednesday pray for things related to their Emotions
  • that they believe the truth about who God says they are versus the lies of the enemy 
  • that they truly grasp how loved they are by God, us, and others 
  • that they would not be ruled by their fear and emotions but by facts and truth 
  • that they would learn to use the Word of God to conquer difficult emotions 
  • that they would choose joy and gratitude in every situation 
  • that they would deal with stress in healthy ways 
  • that we would keep an open dialogue to discuss their emotions and how to deal with them 
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23). 
 
S - on Thursday pray for things related to their Spiritual Growth and Well-Being
  • that they would be saved and have an insatiable hunger for God and His Word 
  • that their love for God would grow and exceed their love for the things of this world 
  • that they would be honest about their doubts, so we can investigate those together 
  • that God would leave fingerprints of His presence all over their day 
  • that they would have opportunities to grow in their faith and be strong in the face of persecution 
  • that they would walk in obedience to God’s commands and His best for their lives 
  • that they would have opportunities to live out and share the Gospel with others  
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:8-10).
 
S - on Friday pray for things related to their Social Life
  • for godly, like-minded friends and family to do life with
  • for their future spouse 
  • for drama and temptation to be absent or called out when present 
  • for there to be mutual love and respect between them and their friends 
  • for them to be repulsed by sin and the things of this world as He shapes their desires 
  • for us to have supernatural insight and discernment when it comes to their relationships 
  • for wonderful, healthy memories to be made in their social situations 
  • for our house to be the place where friends and family would hang out and create those memories 
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (I Thessalonians 5:11). 
 

This easy-to-remember acronym can help keep your prayers focused and fresh during those busy school weeks as you remember what day it is and pray accordingly. The power of a praying parent cannot be overestimated! May we never fail to lift up our children to the throne of God daily! 

Download a printable pdf to help remind you to pray for your children each weekday.

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers” (Psalm 1:1-3). 
 
 
Terry Reichert has been a Bible teacher at Christian Middle School for 14 years. She holds a Bachelor of Science in English Education and is a small group leader and marriage mentor for engaged couples with her husband at her church. 
Posted in Prayer