This week’s post is from author Teri McKinley.
As I write these words I feel the sweet kicks of a baby boy inside my belly. Like most first time parents my husband and I dream about who our son will be. Will he have blond hair like us? Will he have a reserved and gentle personality like his daddy? Or will he be outgoing and energetic like his mama? In my joyful anticipation, I pray for him daily. As I ask God to intentionally shape his character, there is one request that has become so strong, tears stream down my face every time I pray it. Lord, give my son courage to stand for You. Let him be a warrior for Your Kingdom.
It seems that growing threats rage daily against Christians around the world. Each week brings a new set of fears. I am overwhelmed by this battle, not knowing how to fight. But as I feel the movement of life inside me, I am reminded that God is in the present and the future. I have realized that my greatest contribution to His Kingdom just might be raising a man who fearlessly fights for Him. It sounds like an ambitious task, but I believe that God can equip all Christian parents to succeed in this duty.
So how do we do it? How do we raise mighty men and women who will fight courageously for our King? As I ponder this I am reminded of Paul’s letter to the Philippian church. Reviewing his encouragement to the Philippians gives us three practical ways to teach our children to be courageous.
1. Lead by Example
One of the best ways we can train our children to fight for the Christian faith is to model the fight well. Paul’s greatest battle was suffering, but in it he became a skilled warrior. He showed the Philippians how to suffer well, using his imprisonment to share the gospel with the entire Roman imperial guard (Philippians 1:12-13). He was courageous in the face of persecution, knowing that God would be glorified no matter his earthly fate: “Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death (Philippians 1:21).”
Just as the Philippians looked to Paul as an example, our children are looking to us. Do they see us standing up for Christ in a way that honors Him? Do they know that we hold this world loosely because our treasure is in heaven? Our children will learn to be courageous Christians if they see us fighting ahead of them.
2. Steep your Children in the Gospel
Our children’s hearts are more likely to be penetrated by the gospel if we constantly surround them with the Word of God. Paul didn’t have the ability to teach the Philippians out of the completed Bible, but he wrote letters to reinforce truth. Even in his absence, he washed them in the gospel, reminding them to grow in love and discernment and become pure and blameless for the day of Christ (Philippians 1:9-10). Paul continually pointed the Philippians to Jesus and told them to live their lives according to His example (Philippians 2:5-10).
How are we doing in washing our children with the gospel? Do they desire to know more about the Bible? Do they understand who Jesus is to the best of their developmental abilities? Our children have to know Who they’re fighting for if we want them to stand firm in the fight. A personal attachment to the King creates the most loyal soldiers.
3. Prepare your Children for Battle
Finally, we can encourage our children to be Christian warriors by preparing them for battle. Paul never hesitated to tell the Philippians they would face war. “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had (Philippians 1:29-30).” He warned that they would face persecution and told them how to face their opponents. (Philippians 1:28).
Are we preparing our children to face the war or are we trying to protect them instead? We never want to instill fear in our children, but rather help them see that they can face all situations courageously because of Who fights with them. With confidence we can remember that the battle is ultimately the Lord’s. Let’s honor Him by training up men and women He will use for His fight. It may be the greatest thing we ever do.