Creating a Lifestyle for Your Child

Parenting is a great joy. It brings many wonderful blessings to both mum and dad.  So let me help those who are not so confident, with some Biblical insights.

A command given to parents is to train your child.  The Bible also gives advice about what we train into the child.  We train the child in the “way he should go”.  That means we create in our child a lifestyle they will follow.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and even when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

Way to Go

We might better understand the phrase “way he should go” by thinking of it as the “lifestyle” the child will follow.  The way is not just a couple of key things we want the child to value, such as good manners or going to church.  The idea here is of a whole life orientation, not just a select few things.

In past generations Christian parents insisted on certain behaviours from their child, but let the world sow its lifestyle values as well.  The child then followed the lifestyle of the world, and may or may not have kept the particular few things the parents taught.

So give some thought to the “lifestyle” you want to create in your child, not just the few token behaviours that are important to you.

Course of Life

The Hebrew word translated as “way” in Proverbs 22:6 is ‘derek’, which refers to a road we tread (a ‘walk’ rather than a highway we drive along), and has the figurative meanings of a course of life or a mode of action.  The word is at times translated in the King James Bible as “conversation”, which does not mean talking, but “lifestyle”.

You, as the parent, train your child in the course of life and mode of action.  You determine the path they tread and cultivate the lifestyle they will live.  You are commanded to do so.

Do Not Abandon Your Child

If you are not training your child you are leaving him to himself.  You are warned in the Bible not to do that, because a child left to himself will bring his mother to shame.

“The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself brings his mother to shame.” Proverbs 29:15

Children need training.  You are to correct their wrong behaviour and direct their actions into the way you want them to live.  If you do not do that, maybe because you think their naughty actions are cute, or that you are supposed to let them discover their own way, you have failed the child and failed God.

A key aspect in training a child is to discipline them for their wrong choices, wrong actions and foolishness.  This basic Biblical training method is so essential it led to the saying, “If you Spare the Rod you Spoil the Child”.  To ‘spoil’ means to ruin, like food that has gone rotten. It is spoiled.  Do not abandon and spoil your child.

Core Lifestyle Values

To train a child in the right lifestyle you need to know what that lifestyle is.  Simply stated it is a ‘godly’ lifestyle.  It is a lifestyle centred on desire to glorify God and to live as God wants us to.  We know this from the prophet Malachi who explained that the reason God created marriage is to produce “godly seed”.

“And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.” Malachi 2:15

Note that being godly is not something we add on to our lifestyle, but is the core lifestyle value.  Some people who live for self, money, success, fame or other things are able to go to church, do good deeds and look quite godly.

But someone who is godly at heart has the desire to glorify God and to be blessed by God as their primary goal, not self, money, success, pleasure or those many other things.  While on the outside the behaviours may seem similar, at heart they are very different.

Training the Heart

God looks at the heart of your child.  God knows when your child loves self, the world, pleasure or other things.  It is vitally important for you to train the heart of your child.

“But the LORD said to Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” 1Samuel 16:7

Since God sees the heart of your child and will reward your child accordingly, you also must look into the heart of your child and train their tender heart to love and respect God.

One way to do this is to have a close, heart to heart bond with your child, so they open their heart to you and you can speak into their life at the deepest level.

King Solomon expressed the father’s desire to have his son open his heart to his dad.

My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways.” Proverbs 23:26

Both Parents Training the Child

Another key point is that training the child is done by both parents.  It is not the mother’s job or the father’s job.  Both mum and dad have a part to play and they work together to create the best outcome.

The Bible calls children to obey both mother and father, so obviously both parents are training them in the right lifestyle.

Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.” Colossians 3:20

King Solomon reveals that the mother and father have complimentary roles.  He refers to the father’s actions and the mother’s contribution as different, yet obviously working together.

“My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of your mother” Proverbs 6:20

A Godly Lifestyle

To train your child to a godly lifestyle you need to know what that lifestyle looks like.  It looks quite different to the values and actions of typical children and youth.  Western culture has moved far away from godliness and is based mostly on selfishness and worldliness.

If you allow your child to learn the values of their peers and what is found in everyday music, movies, advertising and role models then they have no hope of being godly.  You will not have trained them in the correct way.

Remember that you are training their heart to be tender toward God.  You want to develop in them a love for God and confidence that serving God and keeping God’s requirements brings them the greatest blessings, because it does.

Your Own Lifestyle

If your own lifestyle is full of addictions to this world, selfish interest, keeping up with the trends, gobbling down the latest and greatest that the world has to offer, and so on, then you will not really know the godly way to create in your child’s heart.  And you will also automatically train your child to be like you.

An important starting point is to humble yourself before God and ask Him to create a clean heart in you and to lead you to love and worship Him fully.  As you learn to do that you can then bring your child along in the same experience.

It is not wrong to have things that are in the world, but the extreme danger is when we love those things.  We know we love them when we refuse to give them up.  Rather than giving up or shutting down those things that could contaminate your child, you will be tempted to find reasons to keep them in your life.

I challenge you to love your child enough to seek God until you love Him enough to clean out your lifestyle of all things that tempt your child to love something other than God.

Parenting is Joy

It is a joyful thing to have godly children you have trained who fill your life with good things.

“Correct your son and he will give you rest; yes, he will give delight to your soul.” Proverbs 29:17

You do not need to be ashamed, pained, disturbed or anxious about your children.  The benefits of good parenting are not only enjoyed in your child, but they come back to you as lovely and delightful rewards as well.

The Lord bless you as you give Him your heart and lead your children to love Him too.

Doctrine Revealed

Many Christians have become distracted by what they know as ‘doctrine’. Many people believe that the way to heaven is by correctly interpreted Biblical truth. Churches split and new denominations emerge, based on different ideas of what is correct doctrine.

Doctrine has a strange power to subvert people’s hearts. While they may believe in love, truth and noble things which make up our Christian walk, they will quickly violate those things when they meet someone who doesn’t agree with their doctrine. Worse still, if someone contends with them about their interpretation of some doctrinal point, Christians can be known to become vigorous in their opposition of each other.

The notion of loving our enemies goes out the window for some people. It is as if they worship their ‘doctrine’ not the Lord. It is as if they believe their doctrine will save them, not the blood of Christ.

Doctrine Defined

The general concept of ‘doctrine’ which is taken as gospel by Christians, theologians and Bible students today, is that doctrine is “accurate interpretation of Bible truth”. Some of the dictionary definitions for the word ‘doctrine’ give us: a belief (or system of beliefs) accepted as authoritative by some group or school; a belief or teaching of the Church; a body of instruction which expresses the Church’s faith.

The Bible, however, gives a much richer dimension to ‘doctrine’ than our didactic concepts allow. We think of doctrine as subject matter which is taught, as in a class lesson. We may then ask that the body of truth be ascribed to, examined in a test, faithfully repeated to us, or the like.

However, the use of the term doctrine in the New Testament was linked much more to lifestyle and actions than to a set of beliefs written in a book.

New Testament Doctrine

Consider this quote from Paul’s letter to his associate Titus.

“But speak the things which become sound doctrine” Titus 2:1

That instruction, if given to today’s Christians, might lead to the preparation of a study course or a sermon series on right beliefs. We might explain how our set of beliefs differs from those of another branch of Christendom, and sell our audience on the superior correctness of our particular interpretations and doctrinal perspectives.

But before we get too carried away on that endeavour, let’s see what Paul was really asking Titus to do.

“But speak the things which become sound doctrine: That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becomes holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things” Titus 2:1-3

Paul’s reference to “sound doctrine” was not about a set of beliefs but practical Christian living. It mentions the correct behaviour of aged men and aged women. It goes on in the following verses in Titus 2 to discuss young women, young men and servants. Sound doctrine did not lead to a theology exam, but could be seen in the way of life of those who had it.

That’s radically different to the concept of ‘doctrine’ which has dominated the Christian mindset for centuries. And if you take that perspective and apply it to the many other verses which mention doctrine a different picture emerges, than that of theological exactitude.

Consider these examples…

“In all things showing yourself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing un-corruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.” Titus 2:7,8

“And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority he even commands the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” Mark 1:27

“Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.” Acts 13:12

Theology and Doctrine

Many years ago I was required to study a book titled “All the Doctrines of the Bible”. However that book did not have any doctrine about aged men or aged women, young men or servants. It had no doctrine of casting our demons (see Mark 1:27,28) or calling blindness onto a man who opposed the gospel (Acts 13:10-12).

How could a book be titled ALL the doctrines when it clearly leaves out things which the Bible describes as ‘doctrine’? The reason is that our church world has become besotted with theology and superimposed that concept over the meaning of the word doctrine.

Knowledge puffs people up (1Corinthians 8:1) and so when people have knowledge of theology they want to elevate the status of their mental powers, giving themselves credits that they do not deserve. Paul would not have looked at the Theology test scores of his followers, but at their lifestyle. Yet today we take note of Bible college grades and not the evidence seen in a person’s life. What fools we have become!!!

Doctrine is not accurate interpretation of Bible truth, but proving the truth of what you believe by your lifestyle. When Jesus broke the power of a demon (Mark 1: 21-27) the people marveled at His doctrine. The action proved the power of the truth that Jesus taught. Sound Doctrine is action not theology. Your doctrine is seen in your actions not in your test results.

Live Your Sound Doctrine

If you cannot live the things you have studied then you only have empty head knowledge. If you live with Christ or Paul as your example you will have sound doctrine, even if you can’t pass a theology exam. Get real about what the Bible is talking about.

We are not saved by our correct answers to theological questions. We are saved by faith. Then that faith is to be seen in our lifestyle as we bring forth fruits which prove that we have repented. We become a new creature and live differently from the worldly way we once lived. We do not love the world any more and we don’t love any of the things in the world any more. We die to self, crucify our flesh, take up our cross, love not our lives to the death, and let God’s kingdom be established over our whole lives.

If you are a theology student then watch out. You may well become seduced by the foolish idea that your head knowledge counts for something, when it is nothing but ego feeding knowledge that puffs you up. You will not get to heaven by what your brain cells do, but by what your heart, mind, soul and strength are committed to.