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MENTORING: Raising Righteous Children
By Cheri Reeves
Synopsis: Sadly, many children of Christians are leaving the Lord’s body when they become adults. The word of God reminds us of the blessings of children and emphasizes that raising them to serve and worship the Lord is vital.
Raising children is a lot of work! My husband, Chris, and I have raised four children, one daughter and three sons. They are now adults and all are Christians. The two married children have found Christian spouses. Our daughter and son-in-law have blessed us with two most precious little grandsons.
What a joy it has been raising the four children and having them relatively near now that they are out on their own. We still have one in college, but he’s off to another city while in school, so we have become empty nesters.
Two of the children worship together in Memphis, and the other two worship together in Nashville. Reflecting on their physical and spiritual growth, I cannot help but think of Psalms 127:3, which says, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.”
Raising the kids to love, follow and be obedient to the Lord began early in their lives. They learned that when the church building doors were open, we would be there. Throughout their years, they were taught by example and instruction the importance of worshiping the Lord and have continued to worship Him on their own.
During worship services, our children were taught to sit still and listen. Yes, they would squirm and fidget, but I always kept them still, either on my lap or in the pew beside me. Yes, discipline was sometimes necessary, but it began in our home. It was there where they learned that there were consequences to not obeying, so during services, sometimes a stern look or whisper in their ear would be all it would take to get them to quiet down. When that didn’t work, we would practice taking them out, “wearing them out” and bringing them back in.
The children learned early the importance of sitting still and being quiet during the worship service. I would bring the children a couple of books (never a loud bag of toys) to help occupy their minds when they were young, but as soon as they could listen to the lesson, and take notes on their daddy’s sermon, they sat still, beside me.
When my second child came along, one of the elder’s wives offered to have my daughter sit by her, which was a big help since my husband was behind the pulpit. I took time to let the elder’s wife know my rules and parameters for my daughter sitting still and behaving.
When the children were young and in my lap, they were not allowed to scream out, make noise or turn around and play with people in the next pew. I would usually tap on their mouths to hush them (the source of the noise). If that didn’t work, we made a trip to the back. They would be punished and I would return with them to the auditorium to continue our worship service—quietly.
Was it hard work? You bet. Sometimes I would tell my husband, I felt like I was in a wrestling match all during the service. However, they had to learn the importance of not only worshiping, but not disrupting others while they worshiped.
Don’t wait for the children to become Christians to get them involved, but teach them early how to worship.
When it’s time to pray, start early, having them close their eyes, bow their heads and sit quietly while the prayers are led. Do the same at home as you sit around your breakfast or dinner table. Teach them to offer their own prayers at times.
In the Gospels, we read that Jesus taught His disciples to pray. In Matthew 6, the Lord explains to them the importance and purpose of prayer and how to talk to God. Do the same for your kids early in life.
Teach the children to sing out. PowerPoint songs are wonderful for having people look up and sing out, but I’m glad they were not around when my kids were young. I would always have them hold the book—whether or not they could read yet—and develop the habit of holding it open while we sang. They even had to stand when we stood.
I would use this time to point to the words to show them the order and how to follow along with the song being led. I would always encourage them to sing out. Sing with them at home as well.
During a Bible study at home, have them sit still and listen to the Scriptures read and sing while your family sings. Teach them the joy of singing. Ephesians 5:19 says, “. . .speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”
Give them some change or bills when the contribution is being collected. Help them develop the habit of giving. When they’re old enough to work and receive that first payment, talk to them about putting some aside for the Lord each week. Teach them the commands provided us in 1 Corinthians 16:2, which says, “On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.”
When the Lord’s supper is passed, teach them to sit still. Explain to them at home the purpose of the two emblems and have them participate, not by taking the emblems, but by remembering the Lord’s sacrifice as the members are doing.
Let them know that, if they are ripping papers out of notebooks and making noise or whispering to siblings or friends, it could hamper others from properly worshiping God. Read to them what the Christians did on the first day of the week from Acts 20. Reflect on how Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper.
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matt. 26:26-28).
Provide your children with notebooks when they’re old enough to write and copy down important words from the power point during the lessons. Depending on their grade level, begin by having them do a few words, to more notes that are age appropriate.
After services, teach them to greet visitors and speak to the brethren. Bring your children with you when you visit the sick or shut-ins.
Teach the children, through your example, with habits and structure. Give them responsibilities, and teach them to love and be kind, use their manners and respect the members and visitors. It will stay with them through their years of growth, as it did with Christ: “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52).
A young boy once told me in Bible class that he didn’t want to go to heaven because he wouldn’t be able to do there all the fun things he does here on earth. I was taken aback. Yet it made me realize that we need to teach them to love the participation of worshiping the Lord here on earth, so we have ambitions of being faithful to the Lord and serving Him around His throne in Heaven.
Therefore, they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them (Rev. 7:15).
It is so important to instill in our children the wonderful blessings that we have in Christ and to enjoy the opportunities provided us to worship the Lord. When parents train children early in life to love the Lord and follow His commands, they will often continue being faithful as they mature and leave the nest. This brings to my mind Deuteronomy 6:4-8 which says, “These words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”
Cheri Reeves is the wife of Chris Reeves who preaches for the Warfield Blvd church of Christ in Clarksville, TN. In addition to her roles as wife, mother, grandmother, etc., Cheri is a reporter for Main Street Clarksville. She can be reached here.