By Kristin Wenck
“As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of thy youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed . . .”Psalm 127:4-5. This scripture brings back memories of a Jr. High school archery class. They took us outside, a little too close to the school as it turns out, and set up targets on hay bales. Then they gave us bows and arrows, backed us up, and told us to hit the target. Some kids chose another target—other students, the school building—and hit their mark!. Most kids had the right target and tried to hit it, but the arrows feel far short. Some kids hit the hay bale. Only 1-2 even hit the target. One got a bullseye—someone who actually practiced archery regularly! When parenting, we need to have a target—something we are aiming for, a goal for our children. We also have to know how to hit the target. And we have to be consistent if we are going to be successful.
First a target must be chosen. Some common things that parents aim for: a certain career, academic success, material success. Think of what it takes to make an Olympic gymnast or a child star. Parents who have that goal work hard and sacrifice to make it happen. They end up spending money for training and tutors, time shuttling kids to practice/gigs, they may move the whole family or send their child to live with others to accomplish this goal. They are unreasonably committed. What is your target and are you committed to it? As Christians, what should we be aiming for? The target we should have for our children is the same one we should have for ourselves. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength”. Our number one purpose should be to lead our children into a relationship with God. Sadly, many Christian parents chose to aim for other things: straight “A”, certain extra curricular activities, the right school and college, popularity. What does God value? A heart full of faith, someone who is obedient to do his will. If we parent with knowing God as our target, we can be sure that they will achieve the other “worldly” purposes as well (Matt. 6). We must first choose the correct target, then we have to commit ourselves to reaching the goal so that our arrows (our children) don’t fall short of it.
Commitment means sacrificing yourself: your desires, your time, your sleep, your feelings. Commitment means constant prayer and adjustments—it means hearing from God daily. Commitment means keeping your eye on the target and not getting sidetracked by the busyness of life or worldly definitions of success. Those arrows have to be in the hands of a mighty man (or woman) to hit the target! Commitment is training, not teaching. Teaching is telling a child what they need to do, training is making them do it. Staying there until they get it right. Training a child to know God happens at home, not at church. Phillips, Craig, & Dean wrote this in a song “ let me be a living Bible, Lord, that my little boy can read, I want to be just like You, ‘cause he wants to be like me”. The Bible says that if we train our children, they will not depart from that training when they are older. It is a promise, for better or for worse. They will stay committed to what we train them to commit to—be it God, academics, or social activities.
Children are trained by what they see everyday, not just the days when we get everything right! They get their values from their parents. If you treasure God and make your relationship with Him a priority daily, they will know God also. When obedience to God’s Word is a priority in the home for all the family members, blessings overflow: health, prosperity, peace, love, confidence, protection. To have a happy home, you have to not only teach God’s Word, but be an example of faith, love, and obedience to God’s will. You have to make your children obey God’s Word and obey you. If they won’t do the things that you tell them to do, they won’t do what God tells them to do. The blessings of obedience are that they will live long and well (they will not need be ashamed of all the wrong they did as young adults!).
According to scripture, our children should fill us with joy, not frustration! However this is not true in many Christian homes today. If you are struggling with children who won’t obey, worried that your children will repeat your youthful mistakes, if your home is not a place of love and peace, first check your target. Are you training your children for worldly success, or Godly success? Making their relationship with God your target will cause them to prosper in every area of life throughout their lifetime. God Himself will strengthen and equip you as you obey Him in training children daily. The Bible promises that when we train children in obedience and love, they will stick with it when they are older. They will hit the target!