Parenting: Change Must Begin With You

Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua and had known all the work that the Lord did for Israel.  ~Joshua 24:31

And Josiah took away all the abominations from all the territory that belonged to the people of Israel and made all who were present in Israel serve the LORD their God. All his days they did not turn away from following the LORD, the God of their fathers.  ~2 Chronicles 34:33

I find it interesting that frequently in the Old Testament, we are told that a group of people followed God as long as their Godly leaders lived, but once those leaders died, they very quickly forgot God and began to worship idols and do what was right in their own eyes, forgetting everything that God had done for them.

When I talk to parents at conferences, I am often asked if we have Bible studies for teens, books to help children learn character, etc. Sometimes I do have a book to direct them to, but my heart is for the parents to draw closer to the Lord themselves. I often tell them, “We carry the resources we do in order to help Mom and Dad draw closer to the Lord because if that happens, then the children will have someone to follow.”

In today’s fast-paced society, everyone wants a quick fix, but when it comes to growing in your walk with the Lord, there is no such thing. The Christian life is a continual walk of digging in the Word and repenting of the areas that you fall short in. Sometimes you need to repent to God while other times it is necessary to repent to a loved one whom you have hurt. As your child sees you do this, it makes it easier for him or her to follow suit.

Most parents know that they should not tell their children, “Do as I say, not as I do,” but, in essence, many parents are doing just that instead of saying “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Your child knows when you are not being Christlike and, most of the time, they will be responsive to a humble heart that says, “I am so sorry. Will you please forgive me?” Depending on the child, she may or may not do so, but the important part is that they have seen you model contrition.

If you are having trouble with one or more of your children, I encourage you to examine your heart. Have you modeled the behavior that you now want your child to exhibit? If you yell at your spouse or your children, they will most likely yell at you and each other. If you never listen to them, there’s a chance they won’t listen to you. This is not to say that every bad attitude your child develops is a result of bad parenting. It may not be. But before you deal with the speck in your child’s eye, I encourage you to see if there is a log in your own eye (Luke 6:42). Be prepared that God may show you things that you don’t want to see, but if you are willing to surrender to His lead and allow Him to change you, you may find that your children will begin to change as well.

Sony Elise works with Family Renewal coordinating Israel and Brook Wayne’s itinerary, helping run their product table at conferences, and whatever else is needed. She also has an editing business which keeps her busy when not at conferences. You may contact her at

One of the many books Sony has edited is Raising Them Up: Parenting for Christians, by Israel Wayne.

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