How do we train up our children?

As a new mom of 4 month old, my life is centered around taking care of my baby girl. I am constantly worried about her well being. Is she growing enough? Is she developing well? I have a certain set of expectations for her and if she doesn’t meet them right on time I instantly think I must be a bad parent! In the same way, we as parents in the ministry might place expectations on our children when it comes to their spiritual life. (Some expectations may be reasonable: our children will attend church and Lord willing, establish a relationship with Jesus Christ. Other expectations may be irrational: our children will never make mistakes and will live a perfect life.) And if our children don’t meet those expectations, well then, something MUST be wrong! In order to raise our children, we as pastor’s and pastor’s wives, are called by God to train them well and enlist the help of the church.

Training them well

The word of God commands the Christian parent to be proactive in child rearing:

 “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

But what is “the way he should go”? We can conclude from scripture that this means we are to admit to our children our need for Christ (Romans 3:23) and the importance of growing closer to him (John 17:3). We should also model a moral and spiritual compass (Galatians 5:16-26). We are to spend time with them and show them the value of  the home (Proverbs 31:28) and are instructed to discipline them when they act sinfully (Proverbs 13:24).

Above and beyond the responsibility of the christian parent, the pastor and his wife are held to an even higher standard when it comes to raising their children. One of the qualifications of being an elder directly relates to how we are to bring up our children:

“An elder must be blameless… a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient.” Titus 1:6

Parenting for the pastor is to be taken very seriously. There is no other profession I know of where the health of the home directly affects one’s ability to fulfill his job description. If a pastor’s child were to experience a teen pregnancy or have any issues with the law, it could potentially disqualify their father as an elder.

Enlist the help of the church

Although there is a higher standard of child rearing expected from pastors, it doesn’t mean that our children will be perfect by any means. Because they are sinners they will make mistakes and need discipline. It is true that the family unit is the primary place where a child should be discipled, but God has also gifted us a body of believers who can make a positive impact on our children.

“The church can and should play an exciting and important part in displaying and proclaiming the gospel to our children, and raising them to be those who love Jesus and see how his kindness and grace wonderfully impacts everything.” Scott and Cathy Thomson, What’s the church’s role in raising a child?

We can then invite our church to help us raise our children by making these simple requests:

  1. Help our children grow in their walk with Christ
    Our children are regular children. Just because their father is a pastor does not mean they are automatically saved. Ask your church to nourish your children with the gospel message and help them in their spiritual journey.
  2. Pray for them
    Being a pastor’s child comes with many challenges. Ask your church to pray that your children would grow in godliness and they would foster a great love for their church.
  3. Encourage our children
    Our children are unique. Just because they are a pastor’s children does not mean they will automatically enter the ministry. Ask your church to recognize their individual talents and gifts and nurture them.

The task of raising our children while in full time ministry can be overwhelming. Thankfully the Lord has given us resources in his word and through his church for our children’s benefit. Take heart, you are not a bad parent! Nothing is wrong! Trust in God’s plan for your child’s life and thank him for the work he is doing.

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