Training Our Children In The Lord
By Kim Butts
[Editor’s Note: The following excerpt is from an article that Kim Butts wrote several years ago about preparing the next generation for revival. This particular portion of the article provides some specific things we can do to train our children in their relationship with the Lord.]
1. Teach children to quickly recognize the presence of sin in their lives. It is rare this day and age to find anyone willing to admit their sins. They would rather pretend that their sin is not as bad as some, and therefore not really very grievous to God. Others would prefer to keep sin quiet as long as they don’t “get caught.” This is not the model we want our children to follow, and yet it is the very model which our culture perpetuates. Children need to know that nothing we do which saddens God and grieves the Holy Spirit, is acceptable in His sight – even if it is a very small thing. However, they must also learn about the Lord’s loving forgiveness and willingness to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
2. Teach children carefully about the need for confession and repentance of sin. Once sin is recognized, it must be dealt with. Children should be taught that they must confess their sins to God as soon as they are aware they have been committed. This sin-sensitivity will be so valuable to them as they grow. Learning to grieve over our sins as God does is a good concept to teach. If it makes God sad, then it should make us sad as well. It should make us sorry enough to repent and try to do better next time. Teach your children to keep short accounts with God.
3. Teach children to develop a life of humility before God. Perhaps the biggest barrier to revival in our day is the lack of humility among God’s people.
4. Teach children to recognize and deal with idols. All of God’s children need to realize that nothing can take first place over our relationship with our Heavenly Father. If God has a rival for our heart’s affection, our mind’s attention, or our life’s devotion, then changes should be made. For young people, idols can be developed in several areas: hobbies, recreation, leisure time, friends, family, jobs, or even involvement in ministry at the church. They need to be taught that whatever competes for God’s attention in our lives must be recognized quickly and given lesser importance. Encourage children to make some lifestyle changes which will lessen the influence of these activities or individuals upon their lives, allowing Christ to be FIRST.
5. Teach children to earnestly seek after the heart of God. It is one thing to pray for what is on our own hearts – it is quite another to pray what is on God’s heart. When these two things become one and the same, prayer increases in power and effectiveness. Children should learn that spending time in God’s Word is indispensable to knowing His will for their lives. Once young people remove the idols in their lives (the pattern of this world), and focus on spending time with God in His Word, in joyful praise, in prayer, and in silence before Him, then they can be transformed by the renewing of their minds. This will allow them to have a firm grasp on God’s will for their lives, as well as for the lives of those people and situations they pray for.
6. Teach children to have a heart for the lost. Once children spend time in the Word, they will see that the lost are clearly on God’s heart. There is no point in praying for revival without an all-consuming passion to see lost people come to Christ. Teach children to pray that the Lord of the Harvest would send “workers into His harvest field” (Matt. 9:38).
7. Teach children to develop a lifestyle of praise. God desires our praise. Children naturally love to praise God. It is only as we get older and become self-conscious that we hold back from any form of expressive praise in public prayer. Young people must recognize that without God we are hopeless and helpless, and with God we are filled with hope and are victorious. A lifestyle of praise from the lips of repentant, humble children honors God, and opens the door for heaven-sent revival.