Deuteronomy 6:4-7 [HCSB] Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. 7 Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Psalm 107:3 [NLT] Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.
Proverbs 1:8-9 [NLT] 8 My child, listen when your father corrects you. Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction. 9 What you learn from them will crown you with grace and be a chain of honor around your neck.
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 29:17 [HCSB] Discipline your children, and they will give you peace of mind and will make your heart glad.
James 1:17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.
Ephesians 6:1-4 [NLT] Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord,* for this is the right thing to do. 2 “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: 3 If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.”*4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.
Psalm 107:3 says that “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.” As parents we understand the precious nature of the gifts that God has given to us. In 1 Samuel 1 and again in Luke 2:22, we read the story of two families- Elkanah & Hannah and Joseph and Mary- who brought their firstborn sons to the temple to present them and dedicate them to the Lord. Our first response to God for what He has entrusted to us is one of gratitude and worship!
Raising a child is no easy thing. It takes selflessness, sacrifice, love, discipline, time and patience. It’s not something that is meant to be done by us alone: in our own strength or by human wisdom. God’s plan is that we would recognize the unique design of each child that He has placed within our families and by His supernatural wisdom and strength, train them in the way that they should go. ‘The way they should go’ refers to the unique personalities, strengths, giftedness and callings that God has elected to bestow on each child. Our job is to humble ourselves and daily ask God for wisdom, courage and love to raise these children in accordance with His unique plan for their lives.
So how do we do this? From whence does wisdom and guidance come to complete this heavenly calling? Thankfully, God has given us many helps in this endeavor.
First off, He has given us His timeless and inspired Word. 1 Timothy 3:16-17 says that, “All scripture is breathed out by God and is profitable for teaching, reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, that the man/woman of God would be competent, equipped for every good work.” Notice it says ‘all scripture….is profitable’ for this task of ‘training in righteousness’ so that our children will be ‘competent and equipped’. Every part of God’s Word holds valuable training for our children in righteousness. My wife’s great grandfather used to say, ‘the Bible first’. By that he meant that the best habit to instill in our children and ourselves was to begin each day by first reading something from His Word. It is a lamp unto our feet and a light to our path. His Word provides an unchanging and clear standard of truth in the midst of a world where truth is ever-changing and people are stumbling about in confusion. Read the Word to your children. Tell stories from the Word. Memorize the Word. Let the Word become your ‘first thing’. Talk about how God is speaking to you from His Word.
In the Old Testament [Deut 17] God instructed that each king of Israel should manually write out a copy of the Torah during their rule. Why would God demand this time intensive task when there were so many other things to attend to? The answer: because God knew that the success of a kingdom depended on the proximity of the king and his life to His Word. The further a king drifted from God’s Word, the more damage he would do to his kingdom and it’s inhabitants via unrighteous actions and decision making by human wisdom. It’s imperative that we, as kings and queens of our homes, keep the Word central in raising these princes and princesses who will one day sit on their own thrones.
Secondly, God has given us each other. God has placed you and your family within a vibrant faith community comprised of young and old. There is much wisdom to be gained from the experiences of others as well as encouragement for the journey. In community, our children learn to love those who are different from them and also have opportunity to share their giftings and serve others. In community our children hear the stories and testimonies of the faith community. Indeed the old adage is true in that it takes a village to raise a child!
Third, God has given us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a teacher and a counselor. How many times have you felt overwhelmed or incompetent as a parent? Situations arise for which there is no manual or clear-cut answer. In those times God reveals our desperate need, minute by minute, for the direction and wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Parenting is a constant reminder of how weak and human and needy we truly are. But God is good and He knows our need before we ask it and has given us an internal ‘manual’ for every situation that arises. As parents we need to ask God each day to fill us with His Holy Spirit to help us make decisions and to give us supernatural love and wisdom to raise our children. It’s the Holy Spirit who reveals to us by the Spirit what we can’t see with our natural eyes: things like the deeper heart issues that may be driving behaviors; our children’s God given gifts and callings; or fears, struggles and unforgiveness that they are quietly struggling with.
Finally, love God mom and dad! Nothing in this world can take the place of influence and guidance that you have with your children. In her book Almost Christian, Kenda Dean said the following: "Contrary to popular opinion, teenagers/children conform to the religious beliefs and practices of their parents to a very high degree. Parents ‘get what they are' religiously. While grandparents, relatives, mentors and youth pastors are also influential, parents are by far the most important predictors of teenager’s religious lives." Dean was speaking about teenagers here but the point is the same regardless of age: we get what we are in terms of our relationship with God. That’s sobering. It should be. But it should also be encouraging as we fix our eyes on Him and run this race. Chase after God, mom and dad! Keep His Word central. Stay involved in this faith community. And follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. You only live once. And the greatest gift that you can give your child is not stuff or experiences or even a great education. It’s a home and a life that are completely centered around and in pursuit of God!
Next Steps In a short time you and your child will stand in front of the Greenmonte family and do two things:
You will publicly- before God and the Church- declare your commitment to raise your child to know and follow God.
You will invite the accountability, support and encouragement of the Greenmonte family in this journey.
As you anticipate this special day, I’d like to invite you to make a few preparations:
Sign Up Below: If you're interested in exploring child dedication further or you would like to take part in the next child dedication service at Greenmonte, please click on the button below and follow the link to fill out the sign up form.
Identify A Faith Friend- Prayerfully consider a man or woman whom you identify as someone who loves God and whom you invite to make a special connection with your child to encourage them and model God’s love. This could be a friend or family member. It would be great if they could be present on the day of the dedication to stand with you.
Identify Your Child’s Unique Purpose- Sometimes even before our children are born, God gives us a sense of their unique calling or design. This happened in the Old and New Testaments to parents whom God was giving special insight to about their children via their names or callings. See Samson, John the Baptist, Jesus. Names are significant indicators of purpose. Why did you choose your child’s name? Is there something significant about the meaning? Or perhaps you might share what you sense about your child, their makeup or personality or calling that is from the Lord? Or you may just share some of the specific ways that you pray for your son/daughter. Please feel free and come prepared to briefly share any insights about your child in regard to this with the body.
Talk & Pray With Your Children- If you have other children this is a great opportunity to talk about what it means to dedicate your family to the Lord. Talk about the precedent for this in the OT and how even Jesus was dedicated at the temple. Talk about why you are raising them to follow God and why you are a part of Greenmonte as a family. If you haven’t been keeping the Word or prayer central in the life of your family, this is a great time to renew those practices. Remind your children about who they are and what you sense God’s designs are in making them the way He did.
Commemorate The Event- When the Israelites crossed into Canaan, God instructed the nation to choose one man from each tribe who would take a rock out of the river and build a memorial with it on the other side. The purpose of this memorial was that: “In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 7 Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.” [Joshua 4]. We need reminders of major events in our lives. Reminders of God’s faithfulness and reminders of commitments that we have made. When we marry we exchange and keep rings as a ‘memorial’. What small memento would be helpful for you and your family to memorialize this day?
I’m excited for this special day. I know that God will be present in our midst in a special way to honor your desire to dedicate yourself and your family to Him! This is a public expression of our commitment to God. Consider whom God might lay on your heart to invite and witness this unique event.