As a father, Adrian Rogers and his wife, Joyce, raised four children, all of whom are serving the Lord today. The following excerpt from our newest booklet, “How to Raise Godly Children,” is a compilation of wisdom distilled from four messages on parenting. It begins with Dr. Rogers’ thoughts about the power of parenting what a serious responsibility parents have been given.
Children are truly a blessing from God. Unfortunately, they don’t come with an instruction manual. But there’s no better place to find advice on parenting than the Word of God, which reveals a heavenly Father who loves us and calls us His children. It contains great examples of godly parents. It gives direct instructions on how to parent, and it is filled with many principles we can apply as we strive to be the best parents we can be.
A Mother’s Example
The story of Hannah and her long-prayed-for son, Samuel, is one of the finest examples of a parent in Scripture. In 1st Samuel, chapter one, Hannah cries out to God for a child, promising she would dedicate that child to God’s service. God graciously answered her prayer with a baby boy who became the great prophet Samuel. From her example, we can learn some profound truths.
The Power of Priority, Prayer, Purpose, Persistence, and Persuasion
Hannah’s priorities were in order. Knowing it is a high calling, she made raising her child her priority. She also knew she couldn’t parent without God’s help.
Do you know when you begin to raise godly children? Before they're born. Before she conceived, Hannah was on her knees praying. We need more children who are raised through the power of prayer. Hannah continued to pray.
Hannah knew God had a purpose for her and for her son. Every child is a gift from God and a gift to be given back to God. Many parents fail to raise godly children because they don’t know the power of purpose. What is your ambition for your child? Health, success, fame, or wealth? The greatest ambition comes straight from the Word of God: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 4). Our primary purpose must be that our children would love the Lord Jesus, walk in His truth, and be used for His cause.
She didn’t just pray once and never again. She persisted. She knew how to wait upon God. Many times, well-intentioned parents lose the battle because of weariness. Times will come when you’re tired and think you've failed, but the Bible encourages us to persist.
“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” Isaiah 40:31a
“Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.” Psalm 37:7a
No facts you learn, no techniques you assimilate, will take the place of persistence. There's no cheap, easy, or lazy way to raise godly kids; but it’s well worth it.
Lastly, Hannah understood the importance of her persuasion. Even though she gave Samuel back to God to serve Him, she took her role as a mother seriously. She loved and nurtured her child in his formative years because she knew that “well begun is half done.” This woman changed the course of history. Samuel’s establishment as a prophet of the Lord began in the heart of his mother. She stayed with him, rocked him, loved him, and sang to him. She influenced this child for the Lord. Never underestimate the influence you have on your children. God has placed you in their lives to influence and shape them.
The Blame Game
The family is in crisis in our country. It’s time to stand up and be the godly parents God desires us to be. Our society, our communities, our families—and yes, our children—are paying a high price for not following the instructions found in God’s Word regarding the family and specifically parenting. What can we do about it?
We can point to the government, schools, churches, TV, movies, and all other kinds of influences. But to whom does God assign the primary duty of teaching His principles and precepts? Not the church, not the school—but the parents.
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. Deuteronomy 6:6-7
Society’s breakdown starts with family breakdown.
Many parents work hard to be good and godly parents, but it’s challenging in a world full of dangerous influences and pitfalls—the many pressures on our kids today. It’s up to parents to keep loving, training, and fighting for our children. Fortunately, God has given us some guidelines in His manual on the care and the nurture of children.
Give Them Love, the Greatest Gift
We should begin to love them before they are born, and the bond should only grow. Proverbs 4:1-4 says,
Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding. For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law. For I was my father's son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother. He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live.
We need to have a tender, absolutely unconditional love for our children. When they know we love them, they will receive our instruction and guidance. When children don’t receive love, it’s hard for them to know how to give it. They have to be taught.
Unconditional love doesn’t mean you give the child everything he wants but give them what they need. There must be unconditional acceptance, regardless of the child’s misbehavior. We may not accept what they do, but we must accept them. They need to know that even when they are in trouble, they can still come to us.
Unconditional love goes deeper than mere words. It must be spoken, but it also must be shown. Our kids need physical affection, to experience appropriate hugging and affection. We need to hug our kids and hold them lovingly and tenderly, even playfully. Your teenage boy may act like he’s too big, but do it anyway. It’s biblical. Luke 15:20 says when the prodigal son came home, his father saw him, fell on his neck, hugged him and kissed him.
Love is the greatest gift you can give your children
Communication may seem automatic, but it’s something we need to be intentional about.
Begin Early—As soon as the child is born, start immediately bonding and communicating with him. It is virtually impossible to spoil a child the first year of life. That child must be loved and loved and loved some more. Communicate your love to him right from the start through words, and through physical bonding.
Each Child is Unique—Communicate in a way that meets his unique needs. There’s not another one like your child.
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
The word Hebrew word for way has as its root the idea of bending a bow. The idea is that your child comes into this life with a bent or a proclivity, a disposition, a temperament. God put together your child’s genes and chromosomes in a unique way. Each child has a particular way he should go.
The way you raise one child is not the way you would raise another. Sometimes what works for one child will not work for another. Discern from observing each child the way he should go. You’re the best one to do it. See your child as unique before God and learn to speak his language—communicate with that child creatively.
Be Real—We all have faults, but our kids need to know we’re real enough to admit them. Children do not demand perfection, but they hate hypocrisy. Don’t be afraid to tell them when you’ve made a mistake or about a difficult time you’ve experienced, if it’s appropriate. Being real will keep the lines of communication open.
Encourage Them Constantly—
My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion: So shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck. Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble. When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet. Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh. For the Lord shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken. Proverbs 3:21-26:
Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived, outside of the Lord Jesus, and in the above verses he was blessing his son with encouragement. When you regularly encourage your child, you’re giving him confidence. Children need encouragement like a plant needs water. Rather than trying to catch them doing something wrong, try to catch them doing something right.
Have a Listening Ear—So much of communicating is listening. Be willing to listen when your child wants to talk. Many times they won’t talk, especially when they’re teenagers. You have to wait them out and be ready when the moment presents itself. It may be at an unexpected or even an inopportune time, but you must make the time when they choose to talk. Never be too busy to listen to your child.
Be Sympathetic—When something has hurt them, sympathize. Show them how much you care. Cry with him when he hurts. Be concerned with what concerns him, no matter if it seems big or small.
Give them a happy environment—
A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken. Proverbs 15:13
Don’t let your child’s spirit be broken. Let me tell you how to raise kids in a nutshell: be firm, be fair, and be fun. Have a sense of humor. Psychologists tell us that a good sense of humor is one of the highest signs of intelligence. Laughter lubricates the home, so let your home ring with laughter. Keep the lines of communication open, and laughter can be an effective way of doing just that.
We have barely scratched the surface of Adrian Rogers’ wisdom as a father of two sons and two daughters. In the next pages of the booklet, he shares priceless, practical steps for parents.
“Raising Godly Children,” one of the four messages this booklet comes from, will air on television this month in two parts (November 16 and 23), and radio Friday, November 21 and Monday November 24. The audio will be available anytime online after November 21.
You may want to have the entire booklet for yourself or another parent. It is available for $2 at our web site, www.lwf.org, under “Store,” then “Booklets.” We pray it will be a great blessing to your family.