5 Essentials for Training Your Child Up In Godliness
By: Gavin Felix
We all want what’s best for our kids, but taking the proper steps to get them there can be difficult. CCA High School Bible Teacher, Mr. Gavin Felix, shares five principles from Deuteronomy 6:4-9 that will help you build a foundation that encourages your child(ren) to emulate Jesus Christ.
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
This is one of those “easier said than done” kind of statements. I know of exactly zero parents who set out to train their child to go the wrong way, training them to live a life of personal struggles. We all want what’s best for our kids, but taking the proper steps to get them there can be difficult.
The most important role of a Christian parent is to train your kids to be Christ-like; this is the target at which we should all aim. On the one hand, our current cultural moment pushes us to aim at the target of our child’s individual happiness, which leads to passiveness in discipline and coddling toward their needs. On the other hand, you may even be tempted to guide your child toward your personal happiness, defining “success” for them as making the right grade, getting into the right college, or pursuing the right career. The danger here is setting your kids up to worship the idol of material success or parental approval. Neither of these idols make very good gods and often lead to a lifetime of heartache and struggle.
You can’t truly lead your children to a destination you aren’t heading toward yourself!
Instead, the target is this: Train up your children toward godliness. If your child grows up to love Jesus, reflecting His integrity, His devotion, and His love for all people, then everything else falls into place. You can rest assured that your child is living out their God-given calling, which should ultimately define one’s success.
So how do we train up our kids this way? I want to draw five principles out of Deuteronomy 6:4-9 that will set a helpful foundation.
Learn to Love God Yourself
Verse 4 says, “Hear O Israel the Lord our God; the Lord is one.” This is commonly known as the “Shema”. It means to hear, pay attention to what you’ve heard, and follow through with obedience. The Shema, therefore, is not only an acknowledgment that there is one God (the God of the Bible), but it is also a command to obey this God.
And what is it that we should obey? Verse 5 goes on to say, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” In order to train your child(ren) up in godliness, you first need to love God yourself. You can’t truly lead your children to a destination you aren’t heading toward yourself!
To grow in our love for God, we must first remember:
Our own sinfulness We are far from perfect people and walking contradictions. The same characteristics we despise in others are present within us. Keeping this accurate view of self is important.
Jesus’ great power and desire to save He is able to forgive your sins and make you new; He also wants to do that.
Mercy from God is a free gift All you need is faith in Him!
Remembering these things will deepen your love for Jesus and be the foundation of how you lead your child(ren).
Teach Your Kids the Bible
Deuteronomy 6:7 says, “You shall teach them diligently to your children.” The “them” in the passage refers to verse 6, “all the words that I have commanded you.” That’s the Bible — God’s Word.
If you desire for your child(ren) to grow up in godliness, you need to take time to teach them the Bible. They will learn about the Bible in their classes and at church Sunday School/youth group, but “ground zero” needs to be the home. Your child needs to be learning the Bible from you, so study it, learn it, and share what you’ve learned!
Talk About God Everywhere You Go
Verse 7 also says to “talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” In other words, talk about God’s Word and its implications all the time and everywhere you go.
We spend a lot of time taking our kids to and from school, practices, and playdates as well as watching TV and movies with them. God wants us as parents to use as many of these opportunities as we can to tell our kids how good He is and how to interpret their experiences in this world through a biblical lens.
Talk about God’s Word and its implications all the time and everywhere you go.
Listen well to their hearts and see little conversations as opportunities to talk about God’s goodness. And rest assured that even when it seems they could care less about what you’re saying, they are listening more than you think. Use the opportunities in the casual, everyday spaces that you share to point them to Jesus.
Wear Your Faith on Your Sleeve
Deuteronomy 6:8 says, “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.” This simply means to wear your faith openly. As I mentioned before, kids watch what their parents do more than hearing the instructions they give. If you tell them to take faith seriously yet they never see you doing the same, it’s unlikely that they’ll follow your words.
If you tell them to take faith seriously yet they never see you doing the same, it’s unlikely that they’ll follow your words.
Lisa Fields of the Jude 3 Project had these convicting words to say:
“Some millennials resent church because their parents were good at church but not good at life. They struggle attending a place that consumed their parents’ time but never transformed their private life.”
Don’t let that be you! Let your kids see you praying, reading your Bible, singing, and living an all-around authentic life.
Let Your Home be Marked By a Love for Jesus
Finally, Deuteronomy 6:9 says, “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” So many of us have “Bless this home | Joshua 24:14” and other spiritual décor around the house; but is your home really marked by faithfulness to Jesus?
Let your home be one of thankfulness, prayer, and joy. Make it a habit to incorporate tangible expressions of your faith into the life of the whole family. Over time, your child(ren) will catch on and faith in Jesus will become their own.
Let your home be one of thankfulness, prayer, and joy.
Every child is different, and life throws a lot of unexpected curveballs. Remember that you are in this for the long haul, so consistency is what’s most important. Let your personal love for Jesus shine through all that you say and do, trusting God to care for your children, and you will see his faithfulness in amazing ways. Training a child up in godliness is difficult, but the Lord is with you!
Gavin Felix has been an 11th grade Bible teacher at CCA for the last two years and has taught Upper School Bible since 2009. Gavin is also the founding planter and lead pastor of New Springs Church in Coral Springs. He is an ordained teaching elder in the PCA (Presbyterian Church in America) and holds a Master's degree from Reformed Theological Seminary.
Mr. Most continues his monthly blog series with a discussion on how the digital world is designed to draw us in by appealing to our wants and desires. Such vying for attention has impacted Gen Z’s ability to sit, think, and process — abilities that are essential for developing an intimate relationship with Jesus. You can help your child swim against the current with the boundary-building strategies presented in this article!
Lourdes Zarro — Upper School Director for Calvary Christian Academy’s ESE Program — discusses the calming effect of water and how it can especially help special needs families shed stress, reclaim hope, and find inspiration.
God has no favorites, and as parents neither should we. The challenge to avoid showing partiality towards our biological child in a blended family is real, but it is imperative that we resist. Pastor Darren of Calvary Chapel North Miami shares his experience and God's perspective to help us love well when navigating life in a blended family dynamic.