Raising Kids To Make a Difference

I receive many, many emails and love reading them each one.   Although I am unable to personally respond to most, I did receive an email that asked for a response in the form of a blog post, which I thought was a great idea.  The original email has been changed a bit to protect the
privacy of the blog friend who wrote.

But first: 
Please understand, these are my thoughts after parenting our 12 children 
{and a few foster treasures} over the last 30 years.  
But rest assured, I am not an expert – not at all! Some stuff has worked.
Other stuff hasn’t.  We are all doing the best we can.   
Of course,  I also don’t expect everyone to agree with my thoughts.  
That’s okay.   
If she asks you, you are free to share with her your thoughts.  

Her letter:
Linny – 
I need your help! How did you raise your children so they are so God-focused?

Here’s our situation:  my husband and I have four older children in their twenties.
We invested in our kids as they grew up, home schooling in their early years,
a Christian school for high school.   It seemed to us that we made God a focus,
went to church and spent plenty of time with them.

In terms of success, all four are professionals.  Yet none of them have basically
anything to do with God.  We are dumbfounded and feel like failures.

We also have two younger children whom we have adopted.  We’re not sure what to do 
to ensure a love for God.  Help!

My response: 
My sweet friend,

You and your husband repeat after me:  WE ARE NOT FAILURES.
Listen up – we all parent the best we know how.  Not one of us is a perfect parent – it’s impossible.  Truly. There have been struggles along the way that I will not share on the blog…it wouldn’t be fair to my kids…but trust me…EVERY family has struggles.  There are absolutely no exceptions. Promise. 
If I could offer three specks of wisdom that I wish someone had told me sooner…
1.  Pray and fast for your kids.  PRAY.  PRAY.  PRAY.  Pray and fast.  Pray without ceasing. Pray with intention.  And when you think you’ve prayed all you can pray?  Pray and fast some more.

There is a spiritual war going on for the souls of our kids.  Once upon a time I felt that I had it all under wraps…until suddenly we were thrown for a loop.   Dr. Dobson was so right – Parenting is not for cowards!

Think of this friend:  
God the Father was the PERFECT parent! 
Yet, what did the very first man and his wife do?  
They chose to rebel against their
PERFECT Father by deliberately disobeying 
the only restriction He had given!

 If I could go back 30 years and do one thing over,  I would pray harder, longer and fast more for each of my treasures….being specific in what I prayed for each.  Some struggle in one area, others not so much.  Yet another struggles in a completely different area.  Right?  Pray hard! 

I now have a list I pray for each of my kids.  It is specific to each.  

2.  Take your kids on missions trips starting when they are young. 

If money is an issue, I would forego all vacations to do missions together.  Besides accomplishing much – it is a wonderful way to bond together – caring for those in need.  There are also likely opportunities to minister in your inner-city on a regular basis as well.   

The world’s philosophy is that we need to focus on ourselves 
{every kid has to play every sport, try every hobby, have every lesson 
and visit every museum, amusement park, theatre, sporting and 
music event known to man on a regular basis}.  However, that is all so contrary 
to what Jesus modeled. 
Spend your days focusing on the needs of the hungry around the world, the orphan, the widow, and those imprisoned for their faith.  Persecution.org is also a great site to glean ideas of needs to pray for as a family.  There are millions around the world suffering for Christ’s sake, who didn’t do anything to “deserve” the suffering. There are missionaries around the world who would love letters or a package from your family!  Why should we live a pampered, self-indulgent life?  
Our motto has to be:  
Others, Others, Others. 

3.  Read missionary biographies together.

Many households spend the vast majority of their evenings in front of the TV.   I would urge you to read missionary biographies together as a family instead.  

The lives of missionary heroes will inspire, challenge and change our lives – forever.  The best Missionary Hero biographies we have ever read are published by YWAM and written by Janet and Geoff Benge.  I don’t know this couple, but their writings are truly Holy Spirit inspired.  We have cheered, laughed and wept {truly wept} together as a family reading these.  I remember when our older kids were young, I was reading aloud as we drove on a family road trip.  We literally passed the box of kleenex around the car, bawling our eyes out as daddy drove.  How could we ever be the same after a story like that?   

Buy these books as gifts for your children.  Buy them for friends!  You will never, ever regret reading them.  They are amazing!

Lastly, as far as your big kids:  I would ask your hubby to fast and pray with you for your grown kids on a regular basis…and as much as possible leave them with the Lord…they know what they are to do…it will take the Holy Spirit’s nudges and their hearts softening…

God’s word clearly states:  The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.  Proverbs 21:1.  He is able to turn your children’s hearts…contend for that as you pray the Lord’s word back to Him. 

“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 
You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall 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.”  Deut. 6: 6,7

11 thoughts on “Raising Kids To Make a Difference

  1. Great ideas Linny. Love the books read aloud. Joel and I read aloud to each other now, turning off the tv magnet! We prayed for our children and their specific needs and still do, adding our grandchildren now. We know there is the power of life or death in our words so we speak scriptures over the family and make declarations over them based on Gods promises for provision, healing, blessings, etc. love how you say we do what we can and release the adult children to God. He loves them more than we do! Such great thoughts here……hugs and love to you and yours.

  2. I have a question. What age did you start taking your children on missionary trips? My youngest is 7 and I'm not sure if she is old enough yet. I would really like to start doing this as soon as she is the right age. I told my husband this for the last four or five years and am waiting for her to be old enough.

  3. This is lengthy, so feel free to delet or cut if you want, but my advice as a long time reader, first time poster is: If kids have a solid grounding in the church and God, they will always come back to it.
    I know that, because I was one of those kids.
    Once I got to my late teens, early twenties, I turned away from the church entirely. We had been very involved with our church growing up, and went to Catholic schools, and my Mum did a great job. There were problems within our school/church (issues I won't go into), and I hate to say but our teachers and religion left a crater sized hole in both my sister and I. I wanted nothing more to do with any of it. I am now 32, and last year I faced an unspeakable tragedy in my life, and the first place I turned to was God. I speak to him daily, he has helped me immeasurably,and I don't know how I've gone so long without my daily conversations with him. I believe if my parents had nagged or prodded me too much I would have rebelled and turned away even more. But letting me figure it out on my own I have come back of my own volition, and that makes my committment so much greater than doing it grudgingly or by guilt or force. He is now my best friend. Believe in your kids, and give it time. I guarantee they will find their way back.

    1. Powerful words. Thank you Jo. Nagging is definitely the *worst* thing any of us can do at any point. On our knees is the only thing. I am sorry for your unspeakable tragedy. I am grateful that God used it to draw you to himself…He is faithful.

  4. With all of my own mistakes as a mom, I'd say the exact same things to others. It is easy to NOT pray for your children when they are at home, obeying, being sweet little children. I just didn't pray for them as often for their adult life ahead of them. Oh, now I regret that lost time and see the effects of neglected prayer. I have also said the same thing regarding vacations/missions. It has a big impact on their hearts to tend to the needs of others instead of their focus being on themselves. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Love this post. SO many young moms ask me this very question and I say much the same thing. I have a GREAT calendar posted that gives a starting point to pray daily over the kids. I've not been as faithful with it as I could have been but it's been a great tool. I share it far and wide as it's so EASY – one day, one character trait, for a whole month. Then start over!

    And the missions thing: I wish we had started encouraging our kids to do them younger but we have LONG suggested to those young families that they make it a "core value" for each child to do at least one trip before graduating high school. Each one that my kids have done has changed them irrevocably.

    We do love those books too. Another one that is a great resource is 50 People Every Christian Should Know. I breeze through it often in the last few years since my son came home. Any of the classics by Lewis and such, even the kiddie versions, were so helpful when our big boys were younger. The middle kids are finding good ones on their own now.

    One more suggestion I'd add to the list: GIVE as a family, sacrificially. Since we've become part of the adoption community, we've had LOTS of opportunities to give, give, give. Sacrificially and with intention and we've talked openly and honestly about the sacrifices we make to give, in an effort to help them understand where our hearts are and what God's heart is for stewarding HIS resources. Open hands to receive, open hands to give. Seeing THEM now give freely and generously even when they can't "go" themselves is a joy I wish for all my momma friends to experience.

    It IS hard work, but posts like this are so encouraging – to see what we've done, where we've been, and share what worked for us too. Thanks for posting!!!!!

  6. I agree with a previous post ….train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it. This was a hard thing for me when my daughter who was raised in a faithful Christian home turned from God and lived in sin. I felt hopeless, like a failure as a parent, betrayed and most of all concerned for her soul. In my heart, I knew she knew the right way. I prayed constantly for her, asking God to remind her of HIS commands. It was a hard, hard time in my life. God was faithful as always and she did return to HIM. She is not as active in church as I would like her to be but she is growing and her morals are strong. I would say that leading by example is the best thing parents can do. Leading gently works much better than pushing. Praying for our children is so important. God answers in HIS own way and sometimes I think kids do have to learn things the hard way or they don't appreciate their salvation as much. As a grandparent, I try to lead my grandchildren by showing them love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…the fruits of the spirit. I don't know if as a young parent I realized just how important those characteristics were!!!

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