By Joel Comiskey, Living in Victory, 2022
I shared a meal with a missionary who told me his dad, an international minister, stopped his ministry for one year to spend time with him during his troubled years. I admire this father’s commitment to place the well-being of his child above his own ministerial success. Sadly, many have not. They’ve placed their own success over their relationship with their children.
I believe the highest goal for our children is that they would love the Lord God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength (Luke 10:27). This should be the greatest desire of parents for their children—to accurately pass the baton of the Christian faith to them, and that they would remain committed disciples of Christ. Granted, this is our goal but it’s often messy and children don’t always behave as we want. The good news is that when we train our children in the way they should go, even if they go astray, we can trust that they will come back.
I’m convinced that the family devotional time is the best time for parents to nurture children in the ways of God and really prepare them for life with Christ. Having a quiet time with the kids doesn’t ensure that they will follow Jesus later. It only reflects the priorities of the parents to prioritize godliness. Parents have a golden opportunity to train children in the ways of Jesus when they are young.
Children feel cared for and loved when their father and mother live in harmony. We know from experience that when we, as husband and wife, are doing well, our children feel secure. When I make my wife feel special, my kids honor me in a special way. I believe a successful relationship between husband and wife is half the battle when it comes to proper child-rearing. The husband and wife relationship is the glue that makes other relationships work. The greatest thing a father can do for his children is to love his wife.
I’m constantly reminded that my kids are God’s instruments to make me more like Jesus. Michael Farris, an educator and author who successfully raised three daughters, wrote a book called What a Daughter Needs from Her Dad. He says:
From a very early age your daughter will know when you have made the wrong decision, snapped to an inappropriate judgment . . . A father who refuses to admit a mistake or to work at changing poor, immature behavior reaps a daughter who refuses to trust him . . . Your reliability is actually enhanced when you are willing to admit to the evident fact that you have made a mistake (p.26).
My constant prayer is that I would admit my mistakes when my children point them out. Acknowledgment and confession are far better choices than justification and rejection. They also build healthy respect. God wants to mold me through these situations. Kids see what’s truly happening in the heart of parents. Children are like mirrors that point out weaknesses, joys, and victories.
We live in victory as we allow the Holy Spirit to mold and shape us through those who are closest to us. Yes, these relationships challenge us the most, but they also help us develop Christian character and to become more like Jesus.