Raising Children who Love God and Others

Adapted from chapter 15 of Child Training Tips, Expanded Edition




"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus"   Philippians 2:3-5



As our Lord has taught us in the fifth commandment, children must be required to honor and obey their parents. As they learn to obey us, they develop the virtue of self-control which lays the foundation for maturity, and prepares their hearts to receive moral instruction from us.




     Many parents grasp the importance of raising obedient, respectful children, but fail to understand the significance of raising them to be lovers of God and others. They assume that a self-governing child, raised in the Christian faith, will automatically grow to spiritual maturity as they grow in physical and mental maturity. However, such parents often discover that when their children reach adulthood, they may not continue in the morality or faith which their parents sought to give them. Even more frightening, some parents are content with the results of their parenting, but shouldn’t be. They are satisfied that their children have grown up and remain active in the church, but these grownup children lack the most important Christian virtue – love.

     As followers of Christ we must raise children who not only have the virtue of self-control, but who are lovers of God and true lovers of their families,[1] neighbors,[2] and enemies.[3]

     Sadly, many parents do not value love as the highest virtue in their own personal lives, and therefore content themselves with simply raising their children to be obedient. They justify such an approach, insisting Christ taught that those who learn to obey are learning to love. Obedience certainly can be a trait of love,[4] but to subdue our children’s wills and then neglect to teach them to love is like building the foundation for a house, and then stopping construction. The foundation is absolutely necessary, but the goal is the house. So too, obedience and respect which spring from a subdued self-will represent important elements of the foundation, but they are just that – foundational elements for the building of love.

     Parents, gauge your values. Will you be satisfied if your children are obedient and respectful, serve in church ministries, wear conservative clothes, have neatly groomed hair, and listen only to hymns? These things may be good signs, but not if the children are socially cold and grow up with no concern for the lost or noticeable love for others, not if they are so self-involved that they avoid meeting new people and are not accustomed to reaching out to strangers, or opening their homes to the needy.

     Check your goals. Will you be satisfied if your children can quote the entire Westminster Shorter Catechism, are so self-governing that they are able to sit silent and motionless in church for hours at a time, and are so well-behaved that wherever you walk they remain right by your side? Such self-restrained actions are a good foundation, but may be meaningless if they continually gossip, criticize, and demean others.

     Will you be content if your sons wear suits to church and your daughters modest dresses, if they are known to be hardworking and responsible, and they address all adults as Mr. and Mrs.? If so, do not overlook their heart condition which allows them to continually bicker at home, and be unkind to all who offend them.

     What if your children are as well-mannered at home as they are in public, and their only flaw is their tendency to point out the shortcomings of others? We are foolish to be happy if our children’s only imperfection is their arrogance, for God resists the proud.[5] A well-behaved proud child is useless to his fellow man and just as displeasing to God as a defiant rebel.[6]




     We know from Christ’s teaching that the highest priority for his followers is that they love God preeminently, and be as devoted to their neighbors as they are to themselves.[7] Therefore, as we rear our children our chief goal must be to raise them to love God and their neighbors.

     The apostle Paul reinforced this when he declared to his spiritual children that the goal of his instruction was not simply that they have right knowledge, but that whatever they learned from him would cause them to love.[8] Quite naturally, then, love was the quality he affirmed most often in letters to the churches.[9] Even when he told the Thessalonian church that they loved so well that they didn’t need further teaching about it, he still proceeded to instruct them to love more and more.[10] And in Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth God made it quite clear that no matter what we accomplish or how spiritual we get, if we fail to love, it is worthless.[11]  

     So, if we raise children who have the ability to speak in the tongues of angels, have the faith to move mountains, perform deeds of self-sacrificing benevolence, and can obey in a flash with total respect, but lack love, we have accomplished nothing. Zip. Zero. Nada.  Yes, obedient, self-governing children are beautiful and necessary, but if they do not love they lack the quality most dear to the heart of our God.





     Based on the supreme commandment, we know that the greatest thing in parenting is to raise children to love God. The apostle John teaches us that those who love God, do so because they first experience His love.[12] We must make it our goal therefore, to somehow convey God’s love to our kids. The following four steps should aid any parent in helping their children to grow in love with God.

1. Teach them the doctrinal truth of the gospel: God loves sinners


But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9  Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! 10  For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!  Romans 5:8 


Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven--for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little."   Luke 7:47 


     For us to pass on to our children the Truth that will cause them to grow in love with God, we must first understand it ourselves. When God sent His son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins, it wasn’t because we deserved His love. Quite the opposite, we deserved His wrath. God is a righteous and holy judge who saw us not as good, lovable beings deserving of His love and mercy, but as sinners who offended Him. That is what makes Him so wonderful – He loves those who deserve to be judged. The gospel is glorious, because it is about God having mercy on His enemies, personally paying off a debt His enemies owed to Him. 

     When we first call upon Christ we do so because we know we are “sinners” in need of a savior. However, many saved sinners fail to comprehend the depth of mercy they needed from God. They do not see the severity of their sinfulness, so do not appreciate the greatness of God’s mercy. As Jesus taught – those who grasp the depth of their sinfulness, will love God all the more.[13]

     To love God with all our hearts we must see that we did not merit the forgiveness Christ’s death provided – we deserved the death itself. God hated our wickedness, but poured out His wrath on His innocent son instead of us.

     In depicting our sinful condition, God describes our hearts as desperately wicked and deceitful above all things.[14] Until we receive from Him a new nature in salvation,[15] every motive we have is polluted and corrupt.[16] Our best deeds, He says, are like filthy rags.[17] In fact, God is so holy and pure that next to Him the sun is not bright,[18] and we are like maggots and worms.[19] God sees us as totally depraved sinners,[20] and when Christ sacrificed himself on the cross he suffered the wrath God felt toward us in our sins.

     What love this is! The perfect and pure, God of the universe suffered a horrible death for those He counted as enemies. We offend the Righteous Judge and instead of executing sentence upon us, condemning us to eternal punishment, He suffers our death sentence for us. He reaches out and loves the very sinners who deserve His wrath. What a merciful God!

     Parents, we must grasp this Truth for ourselves, and pass it on to our children. If they are to fall in love with God they must understand the depth of the gospel.


2. Teach them who God is – the most amazing and lovable being who has ever existed


… And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18  may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19  and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Ephesians 3:17-19 


     When we truly understand the gospel message we come to know God as incredibly lovable. Yet, even aside from seeing the mercy revealed on the cross, those who know Him find themselves in awe of Him and enamored with Him. The old expression “to know Him is to love Him” must have started with God. If we want our children to love God, then in the words of author, Tedd Tripp, “Dazzle them with God!”[21]

     Do you know anyone who is “dazzled” with God?  Do you know what that looks like, and do you know what it is about God that dazzles them?  One who was enthralled with God was King David – he was thoroughly smitten with Him. So fulfilled was he by his intimate relationship with his Heavenly Father he once declared “… As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. 2  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?”[22] And again, “One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.”[23]


The longer David got to know God the more he found Him to be absolutely and totally wonderful.

I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. 3  Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. 4  I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. 5  My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. 6  On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. 7  Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. 8  My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.   Psalm 63:2-8


David loved God because he appreciated how He rescued and provided him safety in times of trouble.

But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. Psalm 59:16 

From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. 3 For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. 4 I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. Psalm 61:2 


My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. 2  He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. Psalm 62:1 


David loved God for the wisdom and practical value of His laws.

Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.  Psalm 119:97 


Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them. Psalm 119:129 


I obey your statutes, for I love them greatly. 168  I obey your precepts and your statutes, for all my ways are known to you. Psalm 119:167-168 


The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. Psalm 19:7 


He found Him faithful and dependable.

For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. Psalm 33:4 


Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made. Ps 145:13 


David was enthralled with God as the Creator.

Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. 2  Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. 3  For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods. 4  In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. 5  The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. 6  Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; 7  for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.   Psalm 95:1-7 


For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. 14  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:13 


He was in awe of God’s omnipresence. 

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8  If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.   Psalm 139:7-8 


David was amazed by God’s omniscience.

O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. 2  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 4  Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. 5  You hem me in--behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. 6  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Psalm 139:1-6 


He revered God for His incredible power.

The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth.   Psalm 97:5 


"How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you. Psalm 66:3 


I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. 3  Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. Psalm 63:2-3 


Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. 4  One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts. 5  They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works. 6  They will tell of the power of your awesome works, and I will proclaim your great deeds. Ps 145:3-6 


David feared God for His great authority

My flesh trembles in fear of you; I stand in awe of your laws. Psalm 119:120 


You alone are to be feared. Who can stand before you when you are angry?  Psalm 76:7 


Who knows the power of your anger? For your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you. Psalm 90:11 


If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? 4  But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared. Psalm 130:3-4 


Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. 9  Fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing … 11  Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. Psalm 34:8-11


     This booklet does not allow the space needed to help the reader discover all that is wonderful about our Heavenly Father, but there is the path we can walk to meet Him. God makes a simple promise which He always fulfills. If we seek Him with all our hearts He will reveal Himself to us.[24] We must spend time in the Word with a hungry, humble heart, praying that there we will encounter God. If we are to help our children find God irresistible, we must know Him deeply ourselves.


3. Model for them love for God


I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. John 13:15 


… set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. 1 Tim 4:12 


     If you want your children to love God, then it will be important that you teach them to love Him by your example. The saying, “the most important things in life are caught not taught,” is particularly true with our children. What we do teaches them more than what we say. Our words, in fact, may be of little influence if they are not matched by a genuine heart of love for God.

     For the glory of God and for the sake of our children we must make it our goal to love the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Employing the best biblical parenting principles is good, but proper discipline may not impact our children’s souls if we fail to model a sincere love for God. We need to do both.[25]

     A problem faced by some parents is that the “love for God” they model doesn’t look to their children like love at all. Their children perceive the Christian life to be a loveless, joyless, preoccupation with avoiding bad stuff. Certainly, a critical aspect of walking with Christ is throwing off everything that hinders and the sin that entangles,[26] as well as avoiding harmful influences.[27] However, if it appears to our children that our Christian life is a drudgery and a burden, and our dominant concern is with what we must avoid and what we don’t do, we must ask ourselves – will they want that? We don’t even really want that for ourselves!

     Parents – are your children drawn to your Jesus or is your “religion” just a burden they feel heaped upon them?  Remember, Jesus cautioned the Jewish leaders against loading people down with burdens they could not carry.[28]

     The Christian life is not simply about not doing bad stuff. It is not even about doing good in order to gain God’s approval. A walk with Christ is a life of joyful thankfulness. It is daily enjoying God’s love and mercy, and doing good for Him because He accepts us – not because we are striving to get accepted.[29]

     When Jesus called followers to him, he said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."[30]  The life Jesus has for his people is one of beauty. If our walks with him are a burden, and our souls have no rest, we are obviously missing what it means to live a life of love for God.

     For our sake and for the sake of our children, may we all pursue what it means to be loved by God and love Him in return.


4. Convey to them the love of God by loving them


Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love … 16  And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.    1 John 4:7-8, 16 


     Philip, the disciple, once requested of Jesus, "Lord, show us the Father…” To which he received the reply, "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'[31] Jesus’ statement was not simply an affirmation of his deity, but was an illustration of how one person can be a reflection of another. So too, as children of God we can reflect Him and his love to our own children.

     Have you ever stopped to consider that it was love that made Jesus attractive to sinners and allowed him to influence them? He spoke against sin, but he still drew sinners to himself. He hated evil, and preached for holiness, but those sinners who heard him, somehow knew he accepted them. In fact, so great and evident was his merciful love that he became known as the “friend of sinners.”[32] 

     Zacchaeus, the despised tax collector, was a classic example of a sinner who was transformed by the love and acceptance of Christ. There he was up that tree, trying to get a good look at Jesus, when suddenly Jesus caught a glimpse of him. Christ responded by declaring, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today."  That was all it took. Zacchaeus’ heart was changed. He instantly made a commitment to share his wealth with the needy and repay anyone from whom he had stolen.[33] Christ’s love caused him to love.

     Have you ever noticed that you are drawn to people who accept you, and you tend to avoid people who don’t?  And have you noticed that you listen more to people who have affection for you, and tend to resist those who are angry with you? Has it occurred to you that your children may be just like you?

     Do you want your children to love your Jesus? Then it will be important that you love them with the same love God has for you. You will be attractive and they will want to know your Jesus. For the sake of our children, let us strive to understand all that love is.



     Christ taught that next to loving God, loving others should be the Christian's greatest pursuit.[34] Parents therefore, must teach their children from infancy that they are to love others as themselves. Those who make this a foundational goal of their child training will set their children dead center on the path to maturity and will establish in them the basis for respect of others.

     If we want to teach our children to be as devoted to their siblings, neighbors, and enemies as they are to themselves, there are several steps we can take. 


1. Be certain you are first filled full with the love of Christ.

     Just like a dry well has no refreshment to offer, we will be unable to love others if we have not first drunk from God’s spring. He is the source of all our compassion. He is the power behind our selfless care. Daily we must go to God to refresh ourselves in His love for us, and this love we must give to others.


2. Study the Scriptures to understand love in all of its facets.

     Our Lord was the picture of love. To grow in our knowledge of love we must study all that he taught and all that he did. The Greek word used to describe his love is agape, which conveys quite a depth of meaning:


? Love is a commitment based on a decision of the will, and not on emotion. It is not earned or deserved, but is unconditional. This means that we are never free to withhold love based on what another does. It is for this reason that Christ calls us to be gracious and merciful toward those who offend us, including users, abusers, and false accusers.


"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28  bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29  If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30  Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Luke 6:27-30 


Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19  Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. 20  On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." 21  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.  Rom 12:17-21 


? Love is proven by sacrifice. We may have great affection for others, and even maintain a commitment to them, but if we are unwilling to inconvenience ourselves, we are missing a key ingredient of true love. Loving without cost may not be love at all. The sacrifices of love may be physical, emotional, or mental, and may include the yielding of personal rights.


Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13[35] 


This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 1 John 3:16


Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6  Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7  but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross!  Phil 2:5-8 


? Love is not only sacrificial, but is selfless in its motives. It gives because the other needs, and not because it wants a return on the investment. It does not give to get. True love remains constant because it is given without strings and is not dependent on demands or expectations. The whole concept of loving another to get one’s own needs met is entirely self-centered. Christ gave of himself not because he had need of us, but because we had need of him.


We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. 2  Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3  For even Christ did not please himself…   Rom 15:1-3   


[Love] … is not self-seeking, 1 Cor 13:5


But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." Luke 14:13 


Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. 1 Cor 10:24 


even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. 1 Cor 10:33 



? Love cares for others so seeks to understand and relate with them. It is because we care that we are willing to forego what is comfortable to us, and put ourselves in another’s place, either literally or empathetically. 


For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18  Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Heb 2:17-18 


For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin.  Heb 4:15 


Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. 2  Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Gal 6:1-2 


? Love is empty if it is void of action. Warm words can be powerful, but just as faith is dead without works,[36] so also is love. Jesus taught that for love to be valid it must be expressed through our service of others.


Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27  and whoever wants to be first must be your slave -- 28  just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."   Mat 20:26-28[37] 


Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet.  John 13:14 


If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18  Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.  1 John 3:17-18 


? The love God has for us is outlined in the thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians. To understand His beautiful love will increase our appreciation of Him, as well as empower us to better love others and equip us to teach our children.


1 Cor 13:4  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8  Love never fails …



     From the time they are born, we must elevate love as their life purpose.


1. Emphasize to them throughout their day that loving and serving others is our supreme goal. Evaluate all their social and moral decisions from the standpoint of love.


2. Make frequent opportunities for the family to serve others, ie: looking after widows or single moms, visiting convalescent hospitals, volunteering at the local Crisis Pregnancy Center, etc.


3. Encourage the children to surprise their siblings by secretly serving them, ie: doing their chores for them, making their beds, etc.


4. Make the absence of love the issue of every childish dispute. When children are in conflict do not just rebuke them for fighting, but admonish them for not loving. Don’t ask them “Who started it?” Ask them each how have they failed to love the other. 


5. Frequently fill their hearts with your loving affection. Since a fresh dose of God’s love fills the heart of a new believer with love for others,[39] consider that bickering children may respond powerfully to a moment of strong fatherly affection, ie: a group hug which does not end until the little ones are laughing and affectionate.  


6. Pray with them about it, but don’t wait until they are mad at their siblings. Every time you pray, including bedtime and meals, ask God to show them creative ways to love others.


7. Read story books or make up bedtime stories about children who are kind and compassionate servants.


8. Give them greater affirmation when you see them love and serve than when they hit a homerun.  When they love and serve, allow them to hear you brag to others about it.


9. Do not permit ANY unkind words in your family, ie: no derogatory names, no making fun, no teasing, or belittling of any kind.


10. Model service and kind speech in your marriage. Many have said that the best way for children to learn to love is to be around two parents loving each other.


HOW CAN PARENTS RESTORE LOST LOVE AND AFFECTION IN A FAMILY?  (Particularly with adolescent aged children)


1. Make it a top goal to express love to your children.[40]

? Be affectionate toward them, whether it is natural for you or not.

? Discipline yourself to smile at them. None of us responds well to someone who communicates continual mistrust and suspicion. May your countenance become inviting!

? Affirm them when they do well. Express to them that you knew they would succeed. Listen to yourself – do you correct them more than you affirm them?


2. Accept them for who they are.


? They are who they are. You may not like their values, but those values reflect who they actually are. Your constant vocal disapproval will likely not change them – only make them hide their true feelings.

? Listen to yourself – do you communicate to them that you are never completely pleased, satisfied, or content with them or their efforts? Is it possible your careful scrutinizing has left them feeling that they can never measure up, like they can never succeed? Have you led them to believe they are a big disappointment to you? 

? Consider that your adolescent may be resistant to your leadership, only because they felt so rejected by you that they gave up trying to please you.

? Many middle-aged adults still crave their parents’ approval. Do you want your children to be your age and still be waiting for you to say, “I’m proud of you”?

? Consider that many kids who fail to find their parents’ acceptance, will welcome it from the first group or individual who offers it.

? Remember that we are drawn to those who like us, but have little time for those who continually criticize us.

? Many parents who have affectionate relationships with their children assume their children feel accepted. Do not substitute affection for acceptance.


3. If you carry unrelenting resentment toward them, forgive them.

? If you put an exclamation mark at the end of their name, it is time to remove it. None of us are drawn to someone who is always angry with us. You must stop!

? Don't bring up old offenses and repeatedly scold them for them.

Do not call to mind the former things, Or ponder things of the past   Isa 43:18 


If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?  Ps 130:3 


Then he adds: "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more."   Heb 10:17 

[Love] … keeps no record of wrongs. 1 Cor 13:5 

? Give them continued fresh starts. Don't think the worst of them, continually guessing their motives to be evil. Love hopes the best.[41] Give them the benefit of the doubt.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Eph 4:32

Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God. 1 Cor 4:5 

? Remember that abiding bitterness will destroy you and them.

… that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. Heb 12:15 

"In your anger do not sin" : Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27  and do not give the devil a foothold.  Eph 4:26-27 

? Ask forgiveness of them for your resentment.

"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24  leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. Mat 5:23-24 

? Do not justify your anger. Coercion with rage is a fleshly effort to achieve a spiritual end. We imagine that they will see our anger and ask themselves, “Oh, my, what have I done to drive my otherwise sane mother so crazy. I should stop and examine myself.” Yet, most people, when they are being verbally assaulted, do not think selfless thoughts. They are too distracted with thoughts of survival and self-preservation.

For the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.  James 1:20 


4. Listen to them.

? As they approach adolescence begin to give them opportunities to share their heart with you.

? Listen to their feelings without immediately giving them the correction you think they need.

? Be trustworthy with their heart. None of us is willing to risk sharing vulnerable feelings with someone who will attack us with what we share.  

? Share with them weaknesses or struggles you are having in your own life.



     Parents, just as God does not intend that the Christian life be burdensome,[42] neither should our parenting. If we are weighed down just trying to survive our children, or if we daily struggle just to tolerate them, we are falling short of God’s calling for us. We will always be miserable and our children will not easily be trained. God does not want us just to endure our kids or merely put up with them – He wants us to aggressively love them! There is a vast difference. When we properly love our children God is glorified and our families reap great blessings. Remember, as Jesus told his followers – when we obey his commandment to love, our joy will be full.[43]



[1] Love is proven not by how we treat the needy, but by how we treat our families. (1 Tim 5:8) 

[2] Luke 10:29-37

[3] Love is proven not by how we treat our friends, but how we treat those who oppose us. (Mat 5:46-47)

[4] John 14:15  "If you love me, you will obey what I command.”

[5] James 4:6

[6] Luke 18:10  "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11  The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector. 12  I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.' 13  "But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' 14  "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." See also Mat 21:31; Mark 2:17; John 9:39-41; 1 Tim 3:6

[7] Mat 22:37 Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39  And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'

[8] 1 Tim 1:5  But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

[9] Eph 1:15; Phil 1:9; Col 1:4-5, 8; 1 Thes 1:3; 3:6, 12; 4:9-10; 2 Thes 1:3; Phile 1:5, 7

[10] 1 Th 4:9-10  Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. 10 And in fact, you do love all the brothers throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers, to do so more and more.

[11] 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.”

[12] 1 John 4:19  We love him, because he first loved us

[13] Luke 7:47 

[14] Jer 17:9; Job 15:15-16; 25:4-6; Mark 7:20-23; John 2:24-5; Rom 3:10-18

[15] 2 Cor 5:17

[16] Gen.6:5; 8:21;

[17] Isa 64:6

[18] Job 15:15-16; 25:4-6

[19] Job 25:5-6

[20] Ps 14:2-3; 51:5; Eccl 7:29

[21] From the seminar, Shepherding a Child’s Heart

[22] Ps 42:1-2

[23] Ps 27:4

[24] Jer 29:13  'And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. 14  'And I will be found by you,' declares the LORD …

[25] King David is an example of one who modeled great passion for God, but whose children went astray, because he neglected to properly control them (1 Kings1:5-6). Eli and Samuel, both godly priests of Israel, also lost their children because they failed in the same way (1 Sam 3:13-14; 8:3).

[26] Heb 12:1

[27] 2 Cor 6:17 - 7:1; James 1:27

[28] Luke 11:46  

[29] Rom 5:10  For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

Rom 2:4  Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?

[30] Mat 11:28

[31] John 14:8-9

[32] Mat 11:19; 9:10-11; Luke 7:34; 15:1-2

[33] Luke 19:1-10

[34] Mat 22:36-39; Phil 2:5-8

[35] Also John 10:11; Rom 5:8

[36] James 2:14-18

[37] Also Mat 23:11; Luke 22:25-27

[38] Adapted from my seminar, “The Delightful Family”

[39] 1 John 4:19

[40] Rom 2:4  Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?  (Also 1 John 4:19)

[41] 1 Cor 13:7

[42] Mat 11:29  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

[43] John 15:10  If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. 11  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12  My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.