Our sons are almost 21, almost 19, and 16 years old. I want them to be happy and healthy, but more than anything, I want them to have their own genuine relationship with God. Here are 10 things I pray they will have when they leave home:
God is love, so when I hear that He hates something, it catches my attention. Proverbs 6:16-19 lists seven things God hates, and lying is mentioned twice! Honesty tops my list of Ten Things because of what honesty prevents:
- Deceiving self. Self-honesty is crucial to personal Christianity. How will my sons know if they’re in a right relationship with God if they’re deceiving themselves in their self-evaluation (1 Cor. 11:28)? The Bibles says, “Test yourselves” (2 Cor. 13:5). The very word test implies honesty.
- Making excuses. Excuses are cover-ups for short-comings. They’re what we come up with when we try to remove the blame or responsibility for something. ”Excuses are the nails used to build a house of failure.” I want my sons to build their houses on the rock. According to Jesus, that means they will hear His words and DO them, not make excuses for what they’re not doing (Matt. 7:24).
- Moral Dilemmas. Dishonesty leads to moral dilemmas in so many areas of life– business relations, taxes, academics, moral ethics. Dishonesty produces a life of double standards.
- Distrust. One lie can destroy years of trust, trust that will take a long time to be restored. A dishonest person won’t have good relationships with coworkers, with elders, with his wife & children, or with his church family.
II. PURITY OF HEART
As a mother of three boys, I’ve felt many moments of indignation at all the sexual impurity bombarding us from all sides. Purity of heart made my list of Ten Things because if my sons don’t have pure hearts:
- They won’t see God (Matt. 5:8).
- They will be in a war waging against their soul (1 Pet. 2:11).
- They will be instruments of unrighteousness (Rom. 6:13).
- They will not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:19-21).
With our sex-saturated society, the idea of raising pure-hearted boys may seem to be an uphill battle against overwhelming odds. But our young men need to know that God’s promise still holds true: “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13).
My sons will be guilty of hypocrisy if they’re big on keeping the law but lack compassion (Matt. 23:23). Some do what they’re supposed to do and say what they’re supposed to say, but they’re hard on others. They speak harshly of the shortcomings of others and act morally superior. This is a heart problem.
Compassion will motivate my sons to see the good in others, to look for ways to build up and encourage, to see souls as the Savior does (Mark 6:34).
If my boys leave home without humility, they leave home without having the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5-8). Humility had to make my list of Ten Things because without it, my sons will head for destruction and dishonor (Prov. 18:12). Humility affects their very relationship with God:
- How close they’ll be to Him (Psa. 138:6,7)
- Whether or not they’ll be guided & taught by Him (Psa. 25:9)
- Whether or not they receive His grace (James 4:6)
- Whether or not they’ll be exalted by Him (2 Pet. 5:6)
Laziness can become a lifestyle. In my [humble] opinion, there are a few habits that prevent men from really making a difference:
- Dressing sloppily because they’re too lazy to tidy up
- Keeping a disorganized office or work space
- Being late to work or appointments; missing deadlines
- Needing someone else to prod them along in order to complete assignments or commitments
Self-motivation, on the other hand, promotes:
- The ability to tackle hard things instead of avoiding them
- Discipline in areas of time-management, healthy eating, and exercise
- The internal drive to always do their best
- The desire to look for ways to serve and be involved, instead of waiting to be asked or waiting for someone else to take care of it
- The wisdom to know when to ask for help instead of making excuses
Gratitude is the opposite of self-pity. I don’t want every conversation my sons have to revolve around how hard things are for them. I don’t want them to be needy for attention and sympathy. I don’t want them to have a difficult time being happy and content. They can’t be grateful and feel sorry for themselves at the same time!
Gratitude sees the blessings in life and sees problems as opportunities for growth. Self-pity thinks, “Woe is me,” while gratitude quietly waits for God to fulfill His purpose in difficult situations.
My sons are going to face difficulties. They’re going to be treated unfairly. They’re going to be disillusioned at times. Their mindset will determine how they handle it. They can wallow in self-pity and complain about their circumstances, or they can be grateful for what they have, Who provides for them, and where they are going (1 Thess. 5:18; Phil. 4:11).
VII. RESPECT FOR AUTHORITY
If my sons are allowed to disrespect authority in the home, they will carry that disrespect into the rest of their lives. God commands His people to show respect for authority:
- Children to parents (Eph. 6:1,2)
- Wife to husband (Eph. 5:22-24)
- Members to elders (Heb. 13:17)
- Citizens to government (1 Pet. 2:13-17)
- Servants to master (Eph. 6:5-8)
When rebellious men in the Lord’s church disagree with a decision made by the elders, they’ll say, “I don’t care what they say; I’m going to do it the way I want.” Obviously these men were never taught to respect authority. I want my sons to understand the importance of respecting authority even in times when they think those in authority are being unreasonable. Those in authority who abuse their position will one day answer to God. My sons need to make sure their own actions glorify God.
Concerning friendliness, someone wrote, “It’s amazing what a warming influence it can have on an otherwise dreary world.”
Whether they’re going off to college, visiting a new congregation, or greeting their future in-laws, I want my sons to be able to initiate warmth and friendliness. I want them to be quick to smile, greet, and assume the best in others. I don’t want them to sit back and wait for others to approach them.
A lack of commitment will make my sons give up when their marriage relationship gets rocky. It will make them neglect evangelism after only a few rejections.
- When my sons hear something different from what they’ve always been taught, where will they turn for answers? My prayer is that they’ll always turn to God’s Word to define and secure their faith (Rom. 10:17).
- When my sons feel discouraged, who will they lean on? My prayer is that they’ll lean on the Lord (1 Pet. 5:7).
- When they feel like they’re all alone in terms of moral convictions, what will they do? My prayer is that they’ll have the courage to stand for what’s right even if no one stands with them.
For the faith of my sons to be real and enduring, it must be built on Scripture. Not on family traditions or feelings. Not on the level of love we have for them. Not on our level of good works, or theirs. For their faith to be living & powerful, it must be rooted in the Word of God (Heb. 4:16).
My sons may be in a new environment, but God’s Word will remain the same. They may be surrounded by new people, but God’s Word will still hold true. They may be tested in ways they’ve never been tested before, but God’s Word will always carry them through. IF it’s the foundation of their faith.
Prayer for Today: Lord, you know my daily prayer is that my sons will always put You first.
*This post can now also be found at A Wise Woman Builds.