When children or grandchildren lack faith, it is the responsibility of parents to have faith for them. Satan, the Pied Piper, would lure many children to destruction, but godly parents have powerful weapons that, over time, will lead a child to the obedience of Christ.
Whether they are your children, grandchildren or spiritual children that you have adopted, you are their pastor. Eph. 6:4, Col. 3:21 The mission of the pastor-parent is to walk into the lives of children and grandchildren, and help them move forward in Christ. The distance between the desired goal and their present situation may be vast, but patience, wisdom and faith will enable a parent to win the battle. No matter what it looks like, have faith for your children.
To help lead a child to their high calling, you need positive vision. Look beyond their present condition and see with the eyes of faith – what good things, God has planned for them. Their destiny comes from heaven and they can never know who they really are until they respond to that call. True identity can be derailed. Many take on a false identity that is inferior to their calling. Children cannot see their own destiny, nor do they know who they are. Their true identity is hidden from them.
A parent-pastor presses into the Lord to discover their child’s destiny. They look to find God’s intentions for their child. They believe the good about their child’s future. They hold on to those treasures that others cannot see, and the child has not yet discovered.
If a parent tells a child about their godly future, the child may not believe it or even want to receive it. The hidden blessings in a child’s future are often a secret between God and a parent. The pastor-parent prays into their child’s destiny. They work with the Holy Spirit toward the goal of God, for their child. They continually activate the blessings of God over their child, by thinking, praying and speaking positive words of faith over them. No matter how rough the path becomes, they will not allow faith for their child to fall to the ground.
The lack of faith in a child may continue long after they are grown and have a family of their own. That means they will not know who they are meant to be. Do not think because they are thirty-five years old, that they have found their true identity. Many are still discovering who they are. Some children walk with God and find their way when they are teens, others are still searching in mid-life. Regardless of their situation, they never stop being your children and their parents continue to hold an important place in their lives.
A pastor-parent has the same mission as the pastor of a local church. They help their children connect with God and discover destiny. Paul, giving pastoral advice said,
“Warn the unruly,
encourage the faint-hearted,
support the weak, and
be patient with all men.”
Patience is the ability to remain calm in the middle of chaotic conditions. It requires faith that God has the matter under control. When circumstances do not support that perspective, only a word from God will bring faith and produce patience. Faith is found in worship, prayer, and fellowship with the Lord. He gives faith as a gift, to those who spend quality time with him.
Support is the ability to help someone who is weak. All children need support sometime. This involves praying faithfully for them because they are not praying for themselves. We ask the Lord to protect them with his angels and to be merciful to them. We ask the Lord to help them make right decisions and bring them to full salvation and destiny. Support means to speak well of our children even when they are not doing so well. It means that we help them as much as we can, even when they do not deserve it. If we ask God to bless them even though they do not deserve it, we must also bless them. Small children are under the discipline of parents, but older children cannot be forced. When they are older, the best way to influence them is to support them with a steady diet of undeserved kindness. Our Father in heaven lavishes grace on each of us. We should do the same for our children.
Encouragement is the ability to help someone get to a better place. Scolding and correction is not encouragement, although there is a place for correction. When a child is running a race you will not help him, by telling him that he did not do well and demanding that he run harder. That is not encouragement. If, however, you praise him for his efforts and find something to honor about him, you will motivate him to do better. Find those things in your child that are good and speak well of them to him.
Whatever you honor, you will get more of. As a pastor, I have had many Sunday-School children bring me a coloring they did in class. No matter how messy it was, I praised them for it. Inevitably, when next Sunday came, they brought me several drawings. What I honored I got more of. That is how encouragement works. Paul instructs us to encourage the faint-hearted. Praise those things in your child that are praiseworthy and you will get more of the same.
Warning the unruly is the ability to point out one’s failures appropriately. Unless a word is given in such a manner, so that it can be received, it falls to the ground producing nothing. When a person is estranged only a minimal amount of correction is beneficial.
Paul said, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Col. 4:6
For every pound of correction, we should extend fifty pounds of encouragement. Encouragement is the grace; correction is the salt. Our conversation should always be loaded with undeserved grace. The salt or correction is only a seasoning. A warning should be brief and then we must leave it with God. Just a pinch of salt goes a long way. It is far too easy to ruin an entire meal by adding too much salt. (With small children it is different. They should be instructed to obey and parents should insist that they do.)
The first step of pastoring is to pray for those under your care. The second step is to win them over with care and undeserved kindness.
The third step is to take them by the hand and lead them into the presence of God where they will find identity and destiny. To be successful you cannot skip any one of the three steps. May God give you grace to partner with him as a successful parent-pastor.