Parenting That Aims the Arrow


The primary goal of parents is to aim their children well. Dr. John Jackson offers spiritual and practical suggestions on how to do this.

According to a USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll taken in late 1998, 90% of the people surveyed said that it is harder to raise kids to be good people than it was 20 years ago, and two in three say parents are doing a worse job (USA Today, 10/1/98). In fact, Bill McKibben, a writer about contemporary life, said this: “If one had set out to create a culture purposefully damaging to children, you couldn’t do much better than America at the end of the 20th century."

Where are these influences coming from? According to a study cited by Diane Levin in her book Remote Control Childhood, virtually all children in America today do have a full-time job: they spend 35 hours a week of “screen time” on television, movies, video and computer games, and videotapes” (USA Today, 10/1/98).

What are we to do as parent’s? What are our key areas of accountability? The Psalms give us a key insight on this question:

“Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children are a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate” (Proverbs 127:3-4).

Let me share four truths from this passage that help guide us in our task:

1.  Children are a gift from God. They are not a liability; they are not an expense—they are a gift!

2.  We are accountable to God for our children. It is ultimately His approval that we must have, not that of our parents, friends, or neighbors.

3.  We are responsible to direct our children toward the future. “Children will invariably talk, eat, walk, think, respond, and act like their parents. Give them a target to shoot at. Give them a goal to work toward. Give them a pattern that they can see clearly, and you give them something that gold and silver cannot buy.” (Billy Graham) Our primary goal is to aim our children well.

4.  The most effective parenting comes from modeling. The truth is, what we do is far more important than what we say. It is here that your role in the lives of your children far surpasses that of the school, or even that of the church. As one wag said, “An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy”. Our potential for influence is the greatest in the context of our homes. It has been said that children ask 500,000 questions before they are 13—that's half a million times to shape a life and to provide meaning and focus. Furthermore, if mom and dad attend church...72% of children, only dad-55%, only mom-15%, neither-6%.

“The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” I Timothy 1:5. Our heart is what motivates our behaviors. Therefore, that’s where we begin as parents. Let me share five ways that your kids will benefit in actually seeing your heart turned:

Turning Your Heart in the Right Direction

  1. Seeing your heart turned towards God “These commandments that I give you today shall be on your hearts. Teach them to your children” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).

  2. Seeing your heart turned towards your spouse (Ephesians 5:22-33). The greatest gift you can give to your children is to love their father or mother.

  3. Seeing your heart turned towards your children. “He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers…”(Malachi 4:6)

  4. Seeing your heart turned towards sharing Christ with others(Matthew 28:18-20)

  5. Seeing your heart turned towards meeting needs (James 1:27)

If your heart begins to turn, what then can you do practically to “aim the arrow” of your kids well? Here are several things you can begin to pray for right now:

  1. Pray that they will know Christ (II Timothy 3:15)

  2. Pray that they will be protected from evil (John 17:15)

  3. Pray that they will respect authority (Romans 13:1)

  4. Pray that they will desire good friends (Proverbs 1:10-15)

  5. Pray that they and their mates will be kept pure (I Corinthians 6:14-20)

  6. Pray that they will be single-hearted, sold out to Christ (Romans 12:1-2)

Today is the first day of making “all things new” in Christ. If you, or your children, are blowing it big time, today is the day where you can become clean again. You can aim them well towards a target that will serve them well for the rest of their lives.

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