Training Children with Purpose
by: Bette Owens
“Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.”
How do you raise children with a purpose? How did we do it? What did we do that families are not doing today? Raising children to have a purpose is done on purpose! When I look at the average Christian family today, it seems like they don’t really believe God’s Word. That may sound harsh, but it appears that they just do not take God’s Word literally. Families just pick and choose what they like or want to obey. It is okay to believe God’s Word when it comes to salvation, and thou shalt not steal or kill, but suddenly when it comes to faithfulness to church, soul winning or tithing, or “Go ye into all the world…”, then God doesn’t really mean what He says or that part of Scripture doesn’t apply to us.
When we first got married, my husband and I wanted to serve God. When we read the Bible, we believed that all of it applied to us, that it works, and we followed it. Whatever God said applied to us and was important to us. When God said to be faithful to church, we were. Nothing was more important than going to church. Not a family reunion, not the Super Bowl, not a job, not a headache, not bad weather, not mother-in-law or grandmother, not a funeral, nothing kept us from God’s house. When we read the Bible and it said, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel…”, we believed that applied to us and to our children, and we started supporting missionaries. We never read in the Bible to get an education, be a doctor, lawyer, or vet. If God said it, that settled it, and we learned to like it. It didn’t matter if we agreed at first or not, this was God speaking. God is not here for us, we are here for God! On purpose we were going to follow God and serve Him with all our heart. What is your purpose? What is God’s purpose for you? Many go through life just doing a routine, or whatever happens, happens. We did not believe in “Well, we’ll wait and see what happens.” We made it happen. If God says it, it is possible! Do you really live your life with a purpose?
Parents will say that they want their children to grow up and do right. Some will even add that they want them to serve God, yet I see very few who have that purpose or direction in their lives. Everything we did was for the purpose of serving Jesus and to bring honor and glory to Him. In Matthew 22:37, “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and withall thy soul, and with all thy mind.” We knew we had to give God our whole heart. This means there is no room left for anything else. As we were living for Him, we would also pray and ask God to show us things in our lives that we needed to do or not do to better serve Him. The way we dressed, the places we went, the jobs we had, and the children we would have. The only thing that mattered to us was to live for and bring honor and glory to our Saviour. We on purpose determined that nothing and no one would stop us.
We on purpose served Him. When we prayed, we asked God to help us serve Him and to stand strong in following the Word of God. We prayed that God would give us children to raise for Him, to serve Him. They were not to serve Him by accident, but on purpose. We even prayed that if our children were not going to serve God that He would just take them. Our whole purpose in having children was so we could raise them with a purpose to serve God. Was that an easy request to pray? No, but we meant it, and on purpose we have raised our children to serve God. Is it a surprise they are all serving Him today? Was it an accident? Did they have to wait for some spiritual calling? No, it was on purpose and God called them.
As our children were growing up, they knew that the most important thing in life was serving Jesus Christ. Nothing came between us and our purpose; not a job, school, family reunion, bad weather, finances, sickness, a broken-down car, fear, sports, vacation, hobbies or feelings. I could go on and on. We put everything into serving the Lord. He is our purpose for living. We had a purpose and nothing came between us and our purpose. Better yet, God gave us a purpose and we were set on fulfilling that purpose. Our children have a purpose because they were trained on purpose, and they followed our example. In order to raise children with a purpose, you must first have a purpose, and believe God’s Word. If we do not understand this truth from God’s Word about purpose, we are no different from the unsaved parent. Any unsaved parent or carnal Christian can raise a child to adulthood, and even instill character. Only a Christian parent who believes God, makes serving Him their purpose in life, and truly follows His Word can raise a child with Christian character who will serve Him with purpose of heart.
Now, you need to understand the cost. Just because you have a purpose and live it doesn’t mean that opposition, heartache or disappointments won’t come. They will, as these things are all part of life. Opposition and problems don’t mean we have the wrong purpose or that we are going in the wrong direction. We must now teach our children how to handle these obstacles. Our children are not perfect, and when they did wrong or made mistakes, we had to be very careful that we didn’t just give up and think, “God can’t use them now”. We sometimes have a hard time moving past the hurt to see the real picture. When troubles come, the carnal response is to get bitter against others or God. We play the blame game, the cry-baby game, or the quit game. We have to be careful when our children disappoint us or there is an obstacle, that we don’t think that God is finished with them. Every one of us has messed up. Let’s quit dwelling on our children’s faults or life’s unfairness and get busy helping them move on to accomplish their purpose. Other people may have their opinions, and even think that your child is never going to make anything of their life, but we understand that God is still cheering them on. If every time our children were told they would never amount to anything for God, had they believed that and given up, none of our children would be serving God today! Just because a child gets demerits in Bible college or smarts off to a teacher, or makes a wrong choice doesn’t mean God is through with him. No one is perfect, everyone is a sinner. Just because your child doesn’t fit into a certain mold, or doesn’t follow some man-made course doesn’t make him or her a failure. Keep working with them and encouraging them. God just might need them to go in a different direction, or their troubles may be just the experience they need to accomplish their purpose. Continue to remind them to on purpose follow their purpose.
There would not be any pastors, missionaries or great men of God if, when they messed up, someone wasn’t there to encourage them to keep going. God wasn’t finished with them yet. We have this crazy idea that because we are living the Christian life; praying, tithing, reading our Bible, and being faithful to God’s house, that this will make everything perfect and there will be no opposition, nothing will break down, and we will all live happily ever after. This is so far from the truth! Even when you are serving the Lord, things still break down, sickness still comes, discouragement still comes and life here will still go on to be what we make it, on purpose. You are still living here on Earth, and you are not exempt from the problems of life. You have to teach your children how to handle things in life. Problems are an opportunity to teach. Deuteronomy 13:3-4, “…for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.” It is the opposition, discouragement and problems in life that can turn our hearts from our purpose and cause bitterness if we do not learn how to handle these things and teach our children how to handle them. For every wrong in life there is a right reaction. Teach your child how to react right.
Our children know that obstacles in life are not there to stop us, but to build us. We taught them to use the problems to help them fulfill their purpose, not to stop them. Almost daily in our house you would hear, “What do you think you should do, and what does God say you should do? So, what should you do?” It doesn’t matter what I say or your teacher says, what does God say? Everyone who has ever done anything for the Lord has had to stand alone and face lots of opposition, even from well-meaning Christians. Psalm 119:69, “The proud have forged a lie against me: but I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart.” You have to teach your children to do right, no matter what the obstacle, and follow what they know God wants them to do, no matter what others say. Some will say it is impossible, others will say you will never make it and you won’t amount to anything. Some will even say, “Not everyone will serve God full-time.” That doesn’t matter if you have a purpose and follow it on purpose, nothing will stop you. It is a necessity to have a burning desire to follow your God-given purpose.
It was no surprise to us when our sons, who are missionaries, raised their support in record time. Others said, “You cannot do it,” but they did. They had a purpose and nothing was going to keep them from their purpose. When they worked a secular job, they did it well and moved up fast, because they had a purpose. It wasn’t to get rich, it was to get busy and to get where God wanted them. It is no surprise to us that we have four sons on the mission field. It is also no surprise to us that our daughters are pastor’s wives, assistant pastor’s wives or serving in a good church, soul winning and teaching Sunday school. Everything in our lives is for the purpose of serving Him. Everything was used on purpose as a means to accomplish our purpose. 1 Samuel 12:24 “Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart; for consider how great things he hath done for you.”
Don’t wait to teach your children they need to serve the Lord. We knew our children were going to serve the Lord before they were ever born. Their whole purpose in coming into this world was to serve Him. We believed that they were called at conception to serve Him. It is no surprise to us or an accident that they are serving Him. It was all done on purpose. This may be blunt, but we did not want to have them if they weren’t going to serve the Lord. No one ever accomplished more than their purpose. Keep your purpose high. Keep your child’s purpose high. God’s purpose for a husband and wife is to be fruitful and multiply, not to produce a bunch of humans who do not have a purpose or do not love God, but to produce many more Christians who have a purpose and love the Lord and want to serve Him. We would be better off with no children if they are not going to serve Him. We did not wait around for God to “call” our children to serve Him. We did not wait around for our children to “figure out” what God wanted them to do. We picked up a Bible and told them what God wanted them to do. We on purpose trained our children to serve Him. We on purpose had them around evangelists, missionaries and preachers. Whenever an evangelist, missionary or preacher was visiting our church, we had them in our home. If they were within driving distance, we went to hear them. Our children understood that these people were very important servants of God. They enjoyed talking to them and listening to them. We made great men of God our heroes, which in turn became our children’s heroes. We never considered a doctor, lawyer, politician, policeman, fireman, nurse, celebrity or ball player a hero and neither did our children. These people may do good deeds or have some talent, but the real heroes were those serving the Lord. Missionaries, preachers and evangelists; our children knew these were important people, and we knew one day our children would be doing likewise. All of our children knew that their purpose for being alive was to serve God. They never had any doubt that their parents purpose was to serve God, and they determined to do the same. They also knew that they had to work hard to accomplish their purpose, and it is not always the easy road, but it is the only road worth traveling. They believed it is the only life that brings honor and glory to Jesus Christ.
2 Timothy 3:10-17, “But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”
Westside Baptist Church