A leader of a local church expressed concern that many teenagers appear generally disinterested and are sometimes even disruptive or unruly in church meetings.
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We parents will most influence our children by our own example, and by informal, kind teaching at a practical level. If, when they are hurt, we regularly hug them, say, “Let’s ask Jesus to help,” then pray together for healing as we apply first-aid or whatever, it will make a lasting impression on young minds. If we confess our own wrongs to them, and admit that we need Jesus’ forgiveness also, they will remember it later when they need to be forgiven. Their own life priorities will usually follow closely what they observe ours to be — regardless of what we say in words.
If in our decisions, we talk in front of them about “what God wants,” “what honors God” and “what the Bible says,” they will learn more than all the scolding in the world could teach. And when they observe us forgiving people who wrong us, being patient under trying circumstances, doing good to people who don’t “deserve” it, they will never forget what they saw — and they will hear us when we teach in words about those very things.
We cannot change the past, but we can use the present to determine the future. It is never too late to start doing all we can to help our youth know and experience God. Each new “today” is all the life we have — and each is a fresh opportunity to enjoy a closer and more open walk with God ourselves as long as he gives us life on this earth.
Godly parenting is not an easy job. But God will enable us to do what he asks of us. We will learn much about parenting from our relationship with God, and much about our relationship with God from our loving and conscientious parenting. Be patient — hang in there — don’t give up! Sometimes kids can’t afford to admit (or show) what they have learned from their parents, but it will usually come out later. When it does, it will make all your labors seem very worthwhile.