Our neighbors have a herd of beef cattle, and I love to watch the newborn calves. Almost as soon as they are born, those little ones are on their feet and nuzzling their mother’s belly for food. By the end of the first day they can keep up with the rest of the herd. But this is not so with children. They need years of constant care, which for many young parents can be overwhelming. It requires many sacrifices to raise a family, and living in the “me generation” makes this very difficult. Many parents act like their children are interfering with their plans because that’s what the world preaches to them. As a result, many children’s needs go unmet. The Need To Be Saved One of the most important goals for Christian parents should be to see each of their children saved and living for the Lord. In the Bible we read the story of parents bringing their children to Christ for His blessing. The well-intentioned disciples attempted to interfere, but Jesus rebuked them saying, “Let the little children to come to Me, and do not forbid them, for of such is the kingdom of God” (Mk. 10:13-16 NKJV).
Parents get excited about taking their little children to see Santa. If they really want to experience something exciting, parents should bring them to Jesus! He’s the only one who can meet their greatest need, salvation.
In Scripture we find other important areas of need that parents must be committed to meeting. Unfortunately, too many parents are more concerned about giving their children what they want rather than what they really need. They provide them with food, clothing and a home, but that’s as far as it goes.
The Need To Be Loved
In Titus 2:4, the older women are instructed to teach young mothers “to love their children.” Apart from salvation, the greatest need of a child is to be loved. The most underprivileged child in the world is one that has no one to love him. The love they need goes far deeper than a mere emotional response to them.
Genuine love is best expressed in meeting their needs in a sacrificial way. We give our time, energy and resources to what we love most. If our children are at the top of our priority list, there will be no lack of love. We express our love by our willingness to discipline them, protect them and invest our time in them.
The Need To Be Cherished
According to Psalm 127:3, our children need us to cherish them: “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD.” The word “heritage” means an inheritance or gift. There is no greater gift that God can give husband and wife than children. And only God can give them. Because children are His gift, they are very special and should be cherished.
I watched a man drop his wife off at the entrance to the mall and then drive his expensive car to the edge of the parking lot to protect it. Why? Because he cherished that car and didn’t want to risk someone harming it. We always treat best what we value most. If we value our children as a gift from God, we will treat them with great care. And they will know how special they are.
The Need To Be Accepted
Our children need us to accept them. Psalm 127:3 also says, “the fruit of the womb is a reward.” Rarely, when an award is given, does the receiver get to choose. Usually it is someone else’s choice. So it is with children. God makes the choice. You may have wanted a boy, but God gave you another girl. You may have wanted an athlete, but God gave you a musician. You may have wanted a healthy child, but God gave you one who’s handicapped.
Your children need to be accepted just the way God made them. He designs every child with His special purpose and plan in mind. Their individuality must be as important to us as it is to God. Only then can we help them achieve their greatest potential for Him.
The Need To Be Guided
Psalms 127 and 128 tell us much about God’s view of the family. In them are some vital concepts that can help parents understand the needs of their children. Psalm 127:4 defines children interestingly as, “arrows in the hand of a warrior.” I’ve been involved in archery for almost fifty years, and have learned two important things about arrows: they need dynamic power and clear direction.
An arrow is an inanimate object. It can’t do a thing by itself. If I get careless while perched in a tree stand and drop an arrow 20 feet to the ground, I can’t call it back up. I have to climb down to get it. When I want to shoot at a target, I must place the arrow on the bow string, pull it back and release it so the force of the bow can send it on it’s way. That dynamic power gives the arrow its purpose. Like arrows, children are helpless, and parents are the dynamic force God places in their lives to send them into life with purpose and power.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, “The Arrow And The Song” (1845) begins this way: “I shot an arrow in the air, it fell to earth I know not where.” That’s the best way I know to lose arrows! An arrow not only needs dynamic force to send it toward the target, it also needs direction. The archer must aim the arrow precisely to hit the target. That’s why parents are so important to a child. It’s our responsibility to guide our children so that they can achieve the purpose for which God made them. The only sure way to provide that guidance is by using God’s Word. What a blessing to see grown children going on with the Lord’s dynamic power and clear direction.
The Need To Be Enjoyed
Psalm 127:5 says, “Happy is that man who has his quiver full of them.” Children need to be enjoyed. Children were made to bring enjoyment to their parents. But have you noticed how many parents are not enjoying their children? When they say their kids get on their nerves, frustrate and irritate them, something’s wrong. Parents must never forget that children are individuals – they’re all different. And they must be treated according to their differences. Some are more challenging, while some are more compliant. The bottom line is, children will only be what they are allowed to be. Some children are aggressive, demanding, loud, and out of control. They are not enjoyable! Permissiveness only creates unruly children. In many homes the children control the parents, instead of the reverse. It’s the parents’ job to train them to be enjoyable. And the most enjoyable children are those who are raised with schedules, controls and structure in their lives. It may be a battle at times, but the end result will make it all worthwhile. Children are more enjoyable when they are brought up “in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).
The Need To Be Protected
Children are very vulnerable. They are so easily influenced. The things that make the biggest impression on their lives are often bad things. For that reason, they need our protection. I believe it is the God-given responsibility of parents to stand between their children and anything that threatens to harm them, be it physical, mental, emotional, social or spiritual.
Psalm 128:3 describes children as “olive plants all around your table.” Why would someone keep olive plants in the house? For the same reason we don’t plant our garden too early – to protect them from severe weather that can harm or destroy them. If we want our plants to produce vegetables in late summer, we have to protect them in the early spring when they are too weak to withstand bad conditions by themselves.
Television, videos, music, reading material, computers, cell phones and friends all can have a bad influence on children. God has commissioned parents to protect young, impressionable children from anything that can harm them. Are you meeting that need?
The Need To Be Trained
The last need is for training. From the moment they are conceived, children are bent in the wrong direction. They are born with a sin nature. Psalm 51:5 says, “I was brought forth in iniquity.” And Romans 3:23 tells us that “all have sinned.” Training involves changing something that needs change. Training begins at birth and continues indefinitely. It is a sad commentary that many parents spend more time training their dog than they do their children. Untrained children become untrained adults, and untrained adults are a menace to society. Is it any wonder our world is in such a mess?
Christian parents have an awesome job. Proverbs 22:6 tells us this: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” While there’s much discussion about what this verse really means, I believe it means just what it says. We are to train our children in the ways of the Lord! We must endeavor to lead them to Christ as Savior and train them to walk according to God’s Word. We must also train them how to live and be productive in whatever God calls them to do.
I trust that you are making an effort to meet your children’s needs – to be saved, loved, cherished, accepted, guided, enjoyed, protected and trained. If there are needs that you have not been attending to, I urge you to begin praying for God’s direction on where to begin and how to proceed. He will help you because He loves your children and wants them to become good examples of His love to others.
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org