In 2011, I was given an assignment to interview a Christian parent. Having three sons myself, Sister Butt seemed an ideal candidate. Stan and Sheila Butt have brought up three sons in the training and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). She graciously allowed me to share this interview here on my blog. It is encouraging to see a mother who has successfully raised boys to grow into faithful men, active in the Lord’s church. All three of her sons preach the gospel!
*Besides your spouse and the Almighty, who was the most helpful to you as you trained your children spiritually? In what ways?
The body of Christ had the greatest influence on our children. When Stan Jr. was in law school at Emory University, he wrote an article describing the church’s influence on his life. He said the church made him a stronger person. We often had Bible teachers, preachers, and missionaries into our home whom we greatly credit as having influenced the spiritual growth of our children.
*Were there any book or articles you read that were a help?
Next to the Bible, I enjoyed Dr. Dobson’s book “Hide or Seek.” This book describes the importance of building a child’s self-esteem. However, I soon realized that it is more important for a child to have “Christ-esteem.” For a child to say, “I can do anything” is one thing; for a child to say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” is quite another. That child will have the proper respect for God and will also develop humility and compassion. Many children with high self-esteem will never develop those characteristics.
*Did you have any specific technique or persistent plan that you utilized through all of the children’s training?
We believed consistency was key to effective biblical training. We gave three answers, “yes,” “no,” or “I’ll think about it,” and did not feel we needed to justify every answer. When our sons were young, we held them close. When they grew into teenagers, we gave them more responsibilities and let them have input into the decision making process. In addition, we were consistent with Bible quizzes at bedtime and prayer. The quizzes took place during our nightly devotionals, and helped build their basic Bible knowledge. The prayers were daily and out loud. They knew our hearts and we knew theirs in the presence of God. The practice of this blessing cannot be overemphasized.
*Besides potty training and the Terrible Two’s, what was an unusually hard time for you as a parent? How did you get through it?
We did not experience the Terrible Two’s because our children learned to obey and were not allowed to be “terrible.” We felt that being two years old was no excuse for misbehaving. As a result, we enjoyed every year of our children’s upbringing. I admit, though, that the most difficult stage was when our sons started driving. It was hard not to think of all the bad things that could happen. I had to trust in God, and my children, and pray they would make good choices.
*What is your favorite memory as a parent?
My favorite memories were the days each of our sons decided to put on Christ in baptism. The only thing that compares was watching our oldest son baptize his own daughter into Christ.
*If you could do anything over again in training your children, what would it be?
Stan and I discussed this question together and we feel we can honestly say we have no regrets. We readily admit that we were not perfect parents, but we used Deuteronomy 6 as our child-rearing guide. We spent time with our boys, and made each decision in view of eternity. Our children knew we loved the Lord more than anything else in this world. We can only say that God has made up for our imperfections, and we are eternally grateful to Him for that! To Him be the glory!
*Your children are faithful Christians, and even serving God in mighty ways. What would you tell other parents to do to achieve the same results? What do you consider the greatest factors in their upbringing that led to this?
Instilling love for the Lord in your children is the greatest factor in bringing up faithful children. They should love God above all else, even their parents. Children should recognize that every talent or ability they have is God-given. And parents should pray that their children will use their talents to serve their Lord and fellow man.
*What do you see as the biggest mistakes parents are making today?
I am saddened by children who are not made to obey simple commands like, “Come here.” I am sad when parents call their children ugly names like “little fool.” I am sad when parents are paralyzed by the wild behavior of their children. I am sad when I see parents so busy giving children what they didn’t have, that they don’t give them things they did have (which were much more precious)! I am sad when I see parents taking their children to worship, but neglecting to give any Bible training at home. I am sad when parents care more about their children’s physical appearance than how their heart appears to God. I am sad when parents are more interested in homework from school than in ‘heartwork’ from the Word. And I am so sad when we spend more time at the ball field than on the battlefield for Christ. It makes me so sad to see parents who are much more concerned with what goes into their children’s mouths than what comes out of them. I am afraid that the prince of this world has managed to confuse many parents about what is truly important. The effect of this may only be realized on the day of judgment. I pray that the Lord will open the eyes and hearts of young parents and give them the courage and the backbone to be parents whose children will glorify God!
Amen! She added some extra thoughts on parenting in general:
There is only one way of raising children and that is with prayer, the wisdom of the Word, and the determination to do the very best one can to shoot those arrows in the right direction. That takes intention, practice, and faith in the Word.
Prayer for Today: Thank you for successful mothers like Sheila Butt. May we learn from her wisdom and experience.