By Tope Banso
ENCOURAGE YOUR CHILDREN
“Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged” Colossians 3:21 New King James Version).
The books of Matthew, Mark and Luke record how some parents brought their children to Jesus so that He could lay His hands on them and pray for them. However, for the best reason known to His disciples, they forbade them. Perhaps, they felt that laying hands on children by Jesus would be childish or would have amounted to trivializing His ministry.
The disciples told the parents not to bother Jesus. They rebuked them. I don’t know how the request to lay hands on children and praying for them amounted to bothering Jesus or called for rebuke. Expectedly, Jesus’ attitude was different from that of His disciples. He believed that ministering to the children was not less important than ministering to the adults.
Mark 10:13-16 presents the story this way: “Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.
“Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.’ And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them” (New King James Version).
I consider this story, which is also recorded in Matthew 19:13-15 and Luke 18:15-17, an example of how adults discourage children. If the children brought to Jesus were old enough to understand the action of the disciples, they would have left the place discouraged had Jesus not intervened. Jesus ministered to different categories of people. Why exclude children?
The parents who brought their children to Jesus did very well. The adults, particularly parents, must be careful that they don’t say or do things that discourage children. Parents must understand that children are children! What is important to them i not necessarily what is important to their parents. Children’s interests are not the same as adults’ interests. Parents must, therefore, be sensitive to the emotional needs of their children as much as they are concerned about their children’s food, clothing, etc.
It is important to discipline and correct your children when they do what is wrong, but do it in love and also use positive reinforcement to encourage them. Don’t let your children see you as a fault-finder, because you never commend or reward their good efforts or conduct. Don’t become a critic of your children, be their encourager or cheerleader even when their good performances are below your expectation.
Show your children what the Word of God says; tell them you believe they can, through Christ who strengthens them, do everything the Word of God demands of them (Philippians 4:13). Encourage them to obey the Word of God as His children. Comparing them with other children could be counter-productive; it could discourage them. Appreciate their efforts, no matter how little they are.
Colossians 3:21 says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged” (New King James Version). The New Living Translation says, “Fathers, don’t aggravate your children. If you do, they will become discouraged and quit trying.”
The New Century Version presents it this way: “Fathers, do not nag your children. If you are too hard to please, they may want to stop trying.” Don’t discourage your children. Also, Ephesians 6:4a says fathers should not provoke their children to wrath.
In 3 John 3-4, Apostle John wrote encouraging words to his spiritual children, saying, “For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (New King James Version). That would motivate them to do better.
And after talking to them about a member of the church, Diotrephes, who was a bad example of a Christian, John told them not to imitate what was evil, but what was good (verse 11). But don’t forget he earlier appreciated them.
Parents must encourage their children to obey the Word of God, develop their potential, attain academic success, etc. Parents should avoid being judgmental, even when their children fail to meet their goals or suffer temporary setback. They must avoid discouraging them by setting for them unrealistic goals.
Some parents don’t do anything or enough to encourage their children to excel in their academics, even when the children have the potential to do so. They’re always criticizing their performances, and they don’t do better. I know a young man, who was encouraged by his parents in his academics and excelled.
When he entered the university, his parents encouraged him to aim for the best. They kept telling him he had the potential to make First Class, which he wasn’t too eager about. They made him believe he could do it. And even when he didn’t make it the first and second years, they kept encouraging him it was doable.
By the third year he was in First Class. He sustained it and came out with First Class. He emerged the best in his department and the best in his faculty. He made it with the help of God and his diligence and sacrifice, but not without the encouragement of his parents.
Encourage your children in their godly endeavours. It doesn’t mean every child will come out with First Class, but encourage your children to develop and maximize their potential.
Speak encouraging words to your children (1 Thessalonians 4:18). If you’re already doing that, keep doing it (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Even if anyone is trying to discourage your children, encourage them.
If you’re not born again, repent of your sins today and accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. Whoever comes to Him, He will by no means cast out.
PRAYER POINT: Father, I repent of my words, attitudes and actions that discourage my children; I shall encourage them henceforth and more.
This is wisdom for living, and it’s worth sharing. Please share.
(For over 250 in-depth and insightful messages by T.O. Banso, visit: www.cedarministry.org).
▪ Banso, a pastor, heads Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
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