When I was in school, my performance was less than stellar. What other kids were able to get done in class, I usually took home for homework. I was always amazed in school that kids said they were bored. I was never bored. When the teacher lost my attention, I was plenty entertained by my own thoughts, the eraser on my pencil, or even the birds outside the window.

To make matters worse I wasn’t much of an athlete either. Growing up, I was pretty short. I was what you would call a late developer. At 16-years-old, I was all of 5’5″.  By the time I was a senior, I was 5’10” and 145 pounds. An average height, but both of my brothers are over 6 foot tall. Needless to say, I was not an All-American athlete. The funny thing was that I didn’t know I was short. Just like I didn’t know that I was skinny or that my parents didn’t make a whole lot of money.  I did know that after every report card, I was probably going to be in trouble, though.

By now I’m sure you are wondering how I made anything out of my life?  My parents gave me three of the most important gifts a child can have: unconditional love, discipline, and they believed and taught me that God had destiny for my life.  Let’s talk about how each of these effect a child’s life.

Unconditional Love
This means that no matter what I did, my parents were going to love me. No matter how many times I lost my shoes, my mom would still take me to find them. Even when I drove a tractor through a family friend’s truck, my dad still let me come home. It was more than that though. They showed me that I had value and that I was loved. This wasn’t a hollow love or approval; they looked for things that I did to be proud of. They also made sure I knew that all the value in me was what God created, and what He created had value. The Bible says in Psalm 139:14, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.”  The ideas of being wonderfully made by God start at home. If you don’t hug, encourage, and tell your children that you are proud of them, they will have a much harder time believing that God or anyone else loves them.

Love is a two-sided coin. On one side, you need to unconditionally value the person.  On the other side, you need to show discipline. In my opinion, the only parents who truly love their children are the ones who punish them. The Bible says in Proverbs 13:24, “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.”  If you want to be loved by your children more than you want them to do the right thing, then you love yourself more than your children. A good parent is willing for their child to not like them if it means that their child does the right thing. So when I ran the tractor into the truck, I got the biggest butt chewing of my life, and I had to help solve the problem. When I forgot my shoes, it usually involved me getting spankings by my mom. They taught me through their behavior that bad behavior and good behavior had consequences, but it did not define their love for me.

This one is usually a little harder for parents. Accepting that God has a destiny for your child means that you do not own your child or the plan for his life.  Only God does. In our church when a new baby is born, we have a baby dedication. We take the baby to the front of the church, and we give that baby to God.  God then gives the baby back to us to raise in His love, discipline, and His ways. It is my belief that as parents we will take the baby, now grown, back to the alter, and give him back to God. We are held accountable for how that child arrives at that alter. They will be responsible for their relationship and God’s destiny from that point forward.


How do we get them to the alter in good shape? 

Read the Bible to them. Make sure that your children know, no matter how old they are, how important it is to hear God’s voice. Tell them stories of Samuel, David, and Jesus who were each doing the Father’s work at a young age.  We must show them that the Bible is a real and meaningful in our lives. No one goes on a trip without a road map. Those who have only logic will be lost.

Take them to church. The Bible says in Hebrews 10:25 that, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another.  And so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”  At a certain age, parents lose some of the influence in a child’s life. If you don’t put them in contact with other Christians, they will adopt the ideas of the world.

Stop rescuing them. Children must be encouraged to be bold. When they know something is right, don’t tell them to go along to get along.  Even if you are afraid for them, tell them how proud you are they did the right thing.

I pray that for all of us with children we value the responsibility God has given us to love them unconditionally, to love them enough to discipline them, and teach them that their relationship with God comes before everything else.

— Written by Jeremiah, a PhD psychologist