Summary: Meeting our children's greatest need

As we’ve discussed for the last four weeks, raising G-Rated Kids in an X-Rated World is not easy. And perhaps, even in the church, we’ve made it even more difficult because of the expectations that we place on parents. Often, it seems like what I call the “Christian parenting industry” feeds these fears by promoting the idea that if we don’t do everything just right as a parent, we’ll ruin our kids forever.

So all these so called “Christian parenting experts” write books and hold conferences that promise to provide parents with a method or program that will ensure that their kids will turn out OK. But while some of the advice they offer can often be helpful, what I find is that in general these “experts” make parenting much more complicated than it needs to be on one hand and much more superficial than it should be on the other hand.

If you doubt that, then just Google “Christian potty training” and click on a few of the nearly 500,000 items that come up. Really? I guess I missed all those places in the Bible that give us detailed instructions about how to potty train our kids. So we needlessly make parents feel guilty because they didn’t use just the right method to teach their children how to use a toilet. But even worse, we put so much emphasis on doing that just right that we miss out on the much more important aspects of raising our kids that we actually do find in the Bible.

This morning, we’re going to take a look at a verse that has probably caused more parents to needlessly feel guilty about their parenting than any other verse in the Bible. But what I will attempt to do this morning is to show all of us that a proper understanding of that verse not only frees us up from that needless guilt, but that it also reveals to us the most important thing we can do for our kids.

But before I do that, I want to ask you all to write down your answer to the question that I have posed in your sermon outline”

What is a child’s greatest need?

Just write down the first thing that comes to mind. Don’t try to give the answer you think I’m looking for or the “spiritual” answer.

[Wait for people to answer]

Would anyone like to share what you wrote down? [Let them share answers]. I agree that all those are important. Our kids need security, a sense of self-worth, good behavior [and the other things people mention]. But this morning, we’re going to see what the Bible says about the one thing that they need above all else. And the way that we make sure that we meet that need is by employing the fifth of the 5 D’s of Raising G-Rated Kids:

• Delight

• Devote

• Discipline

• Direct

• Disciple

In preparing this week’s message, I began to wonder if perhaps this shouldn’t have been the first message in the series because we’re going to focus on our end goal that we are to pursue when it comes to raising our children. But as I thought about it some more, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is appropriate to end the series with this message because it will hopefully leave us with a good reminder of what we’re trying to accomplish when we apply everything else we’ve learned over the last five weeks.

Let’s begin this morning with the verse that I referred to earlier – the one that has probably caused parents more grief than any other verse in the entire Bible:

Train up a child in the way he should go;

even when he is old he will not depart from it.

(Proverbs 22:6 ESV)

How many of you are familiar with that verse? And how many of you have ever felt guilty because of that verse? A lot of you, right? And the reason is that when we read this verse in almost any English translation, it reads like a promise that basically says that if we raise our kids the right way, then when they get older, they won’t turn away from the things that we taught them.

The problem is that if we understand the verse like that and our children choose to take a path that is different than the one we taught them, then we have to conclude that one of two things must be true:

• Either we really messed up as parents and that is why our children rebelled and followed their own way, or

• God did not keep His promise.

And frankly either of those conclusions just don’t sit well with us, do they? So let’s deal with both ideas for a moment. We need to remember the nature of the Proverbs. A Biblical proverb is not an absolute promise, but rather a description of something that is generally true in a given situation. But because of man’s volition and self-determination and because we live in a world marred by sin, that truth won’t necessarily hold true in every situation.

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