Eleven Strategies

These are just a few strategies that Pastor John Piper lists to help parents teach their children how to face the sins of the world. I think these are great not only for our children but our own walk.

1. Children need a humble heart in order to comply with Mom and Dad and with Scripture, so pray earnestly that they would be humble under the mighty hand of God (1 Peter 5:6). Pray that God would give them the gift of deep humility.

2. Seek to be utterly authentic in your own love for Christ, your own joy in him, and your own delight in his ways. You can’t force upon a child satisfaction in God when it does not look as if he’s satisfying Mom and Dad.

3. Saturate your family with Scripture. Talk about it morning, noon, and night. Talk of it when you get up, when you go to meals, when you’re riding in the car. Talk of the word of God, and seek to help your children understand it. Treat the Bible as the absolute authority in your life. Pray that the children will grow up believing that this book is the highest authority in the universe under God.

4. Highlight in the Bible the superior joy that comes from knowing Christ, rather than all the forms of sin they might pursue. Make this a recurrent theme in all your teaching. Join Paul in saying that you count everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:8). Help them flesh that out and see, “That’s why we’re going to obey. There’s a better, more joyful, more lasting, more satisfying way with God than with sin.”

5. Tell stories again and again — from the Bible, from society, from history, from missions — about young people, young men and young women, who did amazingly sacrificial things for the joy that was set before them in God. In the end, most of our children grow up craving significance as much as they crave other things. They need to know where to find that significance. They want to do something that really counts with their life. These stories — stories of Daniel, David, Timothy, missionary stories, military stories from WWI, WWII, the Civil War, etc. — help them. This is where our children will hear stories of young people who did amazing acts of bravery.

6. Make the gospel the constant refrain of all of our teaching. I mean, keep in front of your children that Christ died for sinners, and that he provides a way of preserving and restoring fellowship with himself when we have failed. All children fail. They all do bad things. Their conscience bothers them. They know they are sinners. They need to be reminded again and again about the gospel way of handling failure and sin, not the world’s way. Otherwise, they’re going to become secretive and hide their sins because they don’t know how to settle them with God, let alone with their parents. But if their parents are constantly holding out the gospel way of dealing with failure, then they might keep their children from going underground with regard to their sins.

7. Don’t assume that all is well in their hearts. Probe. Ask more than the brief “How are you doing?” question. Get alone with them in the seclusion of a bedroom or in the car or a restaurant where just you and that one child go. Dig into their hearts, their feelings, their fears, their hopes, the challenges that they feel at school and with their other siblings. Don’t settle for a glib, superficial, one-word answer. Tell them stories about your own feelings as a child, your own failures and sins and struggles, so that they’ll be open that way. Few things, I think, soften a child and give them hope than to know Mom and Dad are not infallible.

8. Help your children find good, Christian, godly friends. The Bible says that bad company corrupts good morals (1 Corinthians 15:33). Of course, we want our children to grow up and be good evangelists, but it’s a mistake to think that finding their closest friends among unbelievers is a good preparation for young minds. There’s a difference between loving unbelievers and loving what they love. For young, impressionable minds, the methods of spiritual warfare against the powers of darkness are not yet in full force.

9. Be sure, if you can, that your children have a good church where they’re forming the habits of corporate worship and discipleship. Let them see you, Mom and Dad, love your church, and worship and sing and pray and become active churchmen and women. If that’s what you want them to be, they need to see that.

10. Establish, in your home, protections on all your electronic devices so that the child is subject to the same scrutiny as Mom and Dad, or vice versa. Don’t treat them as untrustworthy while you pretend to be above scrutiny. Let them know that the whole family understands the dangers of pornography (as well as other superficial distractions) and its easy accessibility. Let them know that Mom and Dad share in the same concern, the same burden, the same susceptibility, and the same accountability.

11. I would suggest that Mom and Dad form a relationship with one or two other couples to form a plan to fast and pray together. Perhaps it is once a week or so. You skip a lunch, show up, and pray for thirty minutes, just for each other’s children. You pray that God would exert supernatural power to work in your children all the dreams you have for their godliness. …

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