This Lionproof Series is a compilation of the things I’ve learned by talking to many second-generation Christians who are living for the Lord. Many have taken surveys to determine why young folks leave church when they turn 18, but I wanted to find out why some stay, and continue to live for God. If you want to see the other parts of the series, look here.
Have you ever wondered if there was a missing element in most parenting philosophies? Maybe you’ve seen families that seem to do everything just right, and yet their children still go to the world. Could there be something, some insidious practice or philosophy that has crept into these families to steal away their children?
I believe it is entirely possible. There are Barriers to Having Your Child’s Heart that are almost completely neglected.
Here are two ways my respondents told me that were possible Barriers to Having Your Child’s Heart:
1. Criticizing Authority – especially spiritual authorities.
Almost every one of the Overcomers agreed energetically that it is detrimental to a child’s spiritual growth to criticize a spiritual leader in front of the children. Many of them told about friends whose parents complained about something or someone in the church or a Christian leader. In every case, it was damaging to the young person.
Dianne, a dear missionary wife who is also a second-generation Christian, told me about her older brother. “My brother’s slip away from God actually started in junior high,” she observed, “probably as a result of a split in our church. Some of the deacons were saying damaging things about the church, and it was nasty. To this day, my mother thinks that all the complaints and criticism caused the church to lose ground in my brother’s mind. He felt that my dad had been treated unjustly, and maybe he was. Then to top it off, we went through difficult financial times because of the split, and I think my brother ended up with some bitterness through that whole ordeal. He doesn’t serve the Lord at all today.”
God’s way of dealing with a problem with anyone is to use the pattern given us in Matthew 18, but when we deal with our authorities, we must be careful to be respectful of their position, regardless of their behavior.
Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Romans 13:7
What can we do if our authorities are not living in a godly manner? Pray, pray, pray!!! And if action is required, do it quietly, privately, and respectfully.
Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Galatians 6:1
I am not advocating blind obedience to a dictatorial leader; I am advocating sane and rational responses to difficulties as they arise. We are well able to take control of our tongues, thereby taking control of our children’s futures.
2. Anger + Pride! We all get angry and say or do things we shouldn’t sometimes, but we should all be quick to apologize for our error.
Even in secular circles, parental anger is well known to cause troubles in the family. It comes as no surprise that Satan uses it as a platform for attack. “Anger is very destructive to a child,” one of my respondents, Steve, explains. “There are two kinds of anger, good and bad. When we as parents are angry in a good way, it is when we are angry at sin and bad things. But when we become angry toward the young people themselves, it causes a wrong discipline and a wrong atmosphere. The spirit of the young person gets hurt, and their pain turns to bitterness.”
But sometimes we as parents blow it. Perhaps we got up on the wrong side of the bed, stubbed our toe, tripped over the cat, and spilled our coffee. That just happens to be the time when Junior comes out of the bedroom with lipstick smeared all over his body! It’s the perfect recipe for a violent explosion! It happens to all of us. Our sin natures combined with circumstances beyond our control sometimes get the best of the best of us!
What did the parents of these godly people do after they lost their temper? Did they pretend it didn’t happen and just hope the child understands? No, they faced up to their wrongdoing and were willing to seek forgiveness of the one they wronged . . . no matter what their age was.
Always be mindful of the dangers of criticizing authorities, and recognize that anger mixed with pride is equally toxic. These Barriers to a Child’s Heart may be just two points, but I think with the Lord’s help, we can use these encouraging words to turn our parenting – and even our lives – around so that Satan will not take our children and destroy them in his jaws.
We must do whatever is necessary to help to make them LIONPROOF.