Last Saturday I walked over to our local soccer field to meet up with my family. It was team picture day so various groups lined the fence in their bright-colored uniforms, looking like little escapees from a box of Crayola crayons.
My eyes and ears drifted to one small boy who was refusing to cooperate, kicking and screaming as his mother attempted to line him up with the other children on his team. He would have none of it. His dad approached, scooped the boy up, and planted himself behind the group with son in tow. The child quickly turned his head away from the camera, lunged sideways, and flapped his arms and legs wildly while screaming defiantly at his father. The dad finally walked away and let his son run off to play.
I turned to my daughter-in-law and whispered, “Well, that little boy just learned how to get his own way.” Such sage words flow so easily off my tongue when I witness scenes as I’ve just described. Are you filled with the same profound wisdom as I am when it’s not your own children misbehaving? If we’re honest, we can probably identify with all parties in this story, from the frazzled parents to the know-it-all bystander (me).
If you have children, you know what I’m about to say is true—raising children is hard work and not for the faint of heart, or in the words of Hollywood ‘philosopher’ Ed Asner, “Raising kids is part joy and part guerrilla warfare.”
Thankfully, God has given us mentors to encourage us in this divine calling. Although we have a plethora of contemporary writers on the subject, I like knowing what our spiritual forebears had to say, especially men such as Charles Spurgeon. Spurgeon taught his own sons to love the Bible, and when they reached adulthood they both entered the Gospel ministry. This godly heritage continues to this day, which for me puts extra weight into his words of wisdom.
So here are twelve thought-provoking, convicting, and encouraging quotes from the great preacher.
1. Children will imitate their fathers in their vices, seldom in their repentance.
2. If we never have headaches through rebuking our children, we shall have plenty of heartaches when they grow up.
3. It is not your instruction that can save the souls of your children; it is the blessing of God the Holy Spirit accompanying your labors.
4. You cannot pray for your children if you do not pray for yourselves.
5. Whether we teach young Christians truth or not, the devil will be sure to teach them error.
6. I hope we seldom bow the knee without praying for our children.
7. Ungodly children, when they show us our own powerlessness against the depravity of their hearts, drive us to flee to the Strong One for strength, and this is a great blessing to us.
8. Begin early to teach, for children begin early to sin.
9. Train your child in the way you know you should have gone yourself.
10. Be sure, whatever you leave out, that you teach the children the three R’s—Ruin, Redemption, and Regeneration.
11. Let no Christian parent fall into the delusion that Sunday School is intended to ease them of their personal duties. The first and most natural condition of things is for Christian parents to train up their own children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
12. You are as much serving God in looking after your own children, and training them up in God’s fear, and minding the house, and making your household a church for God, as you would be if you had been called to lead an army to battle for the Lord of hosts.
The family is part of God’s great design in the world, a place where children are nurtured in the Gospel, saturated with the Scriptures, taught to obey, and prepared for service in the Kingdom of God. The home is a place of prayer both with our children and for our children. We are living examples of faith and trust in God as our children see and hear us pray and read the Bible. Yes, parenting is hard work, but God has promised us His sufficient grace in the task. Christian households, says Calvin, are “so many little churches.”