Vol.IV No.X Pg.5
December 1967

Rearing Children -- For Heaven

Robert F. Turner

Preachers are called upon for all sorts of "advice" -- usually after the querist has made a mess of things, and seeks an "out" at the preacher's expense. Not infrequently the problem is domestic and calls for medical or psychiatric treatment, or a professional marriage counselor -- which this preacher IS NOT.

But since my children are grown, and gone from home, and my mistakes are somewhat covered by time, obscurity, and the fact that they stayed out of reform school notwithstanding my blunders; I am going to tell you how to "raise" your children.

I could say "Love" them; but you would think that ridiculously unnecessary, I hope. It is so painful to see parents who seem to know not how to show love for their children. When we love we act in keeping with their welfare -- even if this means denial of passing fancies. It is the easy way out - hence the self-centered parent -- who releases needful restraints and shirks responsibilities. Discipline and motive must go hand in hand. I like the story of the little girl who, when teased by a neighborhood playmate because she was not allowed to cross the street, replied: "My mother loves me!" That mother had done a splendid job in that realm.

But parents who are Christians have another motive, deeper and more meaningful, yet going hand in hand with their love for their children. We may constantly remind ourselves, "I am rearing this child- for heaven." "While this child is young, plastic; and as it matures, impressionable; I must rear this child -- for heaven!" Think how this would affect our own conduct, knowing the power of example and the fact that much of the attitude and disposition of a child is determined by early environment. And the questions -- Should I allow my child to do this -- Should I encourage that course?? are best answered by this standard: Will it contribute to or hinder his preparation for heaven?

I am aware that you can not take your child to heaven -- a sort of extra luggage. You can not answer for him in judgement, so you must not think you can force righteousness upon him. Training a child for heaven means encouraging the developing boy or girl to adopt this noble goal as their own; but you can have much to do with influencing this choice.

If you talk heaven, but put most of your time and effort into having a fine house and automobile, your talk will fall on deaf ears. If you praise the blessings of worship, but show greater delight in fishing and boating than in assembling with the saints; don't be too surprised if the child fails to get your point -- about the worship, I mean. How can a child learn that the greatest security is spiritual and eternal -- when parents show the greatest concern for retirement plans -- on earth?

The world and its trends will work against your heavenward plans. Much self-denial, and patience, and prayer will be needed. But the Lord says, in effect, "Bring up this child for me, and you shall have your reward."