”40-50 percent of kids who graduate from a church or youth group will fail to stick with their faith in college. “ (Sticky Faith, Dr. Kara Powell and Dr. Chap Clark, pg. 15)
“…between 70 and 88 percent of Christian teens are leaving the church by their second year in college.” (Family Driven Faith, Vodie Baucham, pg 12)
We can quote more statistics and become really depressed but what if there was a solution to making sure our children do not leave the faith when they leave the home? What if there were some factors that helped our children not give up on God? Of course there are no 100% guarantees in anything, but if there were better chances that your children would remain with God would you not at least try?
God calls us as parents to not raise great educational students, although that is important. God did not call us to raise athletes, although there is nothing wrong with that. God has called us to raise up our children to know Him and walk with Him forever.
How do you raise up a Prophet like Samuel?
1 Samuel 1:20-28
1) Set the Example
We know that more is caught than taught by anyone you are trying to teach. People will forget the majority of what you have to say but they remember how you acted.
“Do as I say and not as I do” does not work. Our children act like even if we tell them to not repeat the words or actions we use. Your example to your children will tell them more about what you believe about God than all the talks you will give to them through all the years of their life.
Samuels’s dad made the journey to offer the yearly sacrifice to the Lord. The sacrifice cost them money, time and energy. Money because it would cost them livestock. Time because they would have to travel 16-20 miles. Energy because getting your whole family together and to go on the road takes a lot of planning and preparation. Part of leading is guiding and Elkanah lead his family to worship God. Samuels father demonstrated that worshiping God was important and it had to be a priority over everything else one might do.
Deuteronomy 12:4-7 You must not worship the Lord your God in their way. 5 But you are to seek the place the Lord your God will choose from among all your tribes to put his Name there for his dwelling. To that place you must go; 6 there bring your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, what you have vowed to give and your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks. 7 There, in the presence of the Lord your God, you and your families shall eat and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the Lord your God has blessed you.
What we make a priority in our lives is what we really worship. Where your time, money and energy go is what you truly care about. Parents we have to set the examples in our homes that time for God is important and if we do we will see our children making God a priority as well.
Research shows that when children worship with other adults then they have more of a chance of staying in church after they graduate. Being with your family while worshiping God is important to our children and it is something they should see. Samuel would watch his father prepare to take the sacrifices to the Temple. Samuel would see his dad worship God with his money. Samuel would see his dad worship God at the Temple.
Samuel did not only have a Dad that Worshiped faithfully, but he had a Mom who prayed boldly. Hannah’s prayer life was known publicly and was recorded in 1 Samuel 2. It was the longest recorded prayer in the Old Testament. These two parents demonstrated by how they lived the importance of God and worship and even though Samuel left them at a young age it impacted him for the rest of his life. Actions speak louder than words and how we act will make a lasting impact on our children.
2) Keep your Word
He went to the Temple to pay his vow
Both Hannah and Elkanah made a promise to God and he was going to fulfill the vow he made. Vows could be made to God with a promise of something in return. Whether it was financial or an extra sacrifice whatever vow you made to God was to be kept.
We live in a society that is not about keeping its word. We live in a society of manipulators and deceivers who are not about keeping their word but about finding the loophole or wiggle room to get them out of their commitment. Samuels’s parents were extremely generous to giving to the temple and they made a promise to God to give more than the required 10%. Not only would they give their normal tithes (10%) but then they would make special vows to God if He would answer their prayers.When God answered their prayers then they were faithful to fulfill their part back to God. Hannah vowed that she would dedicate her son to the Lords service. This meant anywhere from ages 3-10 she gave Samuel up to be raised in the Temple for service. Hannah’s vow to God could have been over ridden by Elkanah but he decided to honor her vow as well.
Ecclesiastes 5:2-4 Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. 3 A dream comes when there are many cares, and many words mark the speech of a fool. 4 When you make a vow to God, do not delay to fulfill it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow
You honor God when you honor your word. Ecclesiastes tells us not to be a fast talker and to think before we speak. Christians should be people of their word and when parents keep their word then it teaches their children to do the same.
3) Be a Blessing
As long as he lives he is given to the Lord
When Samuel went to the Temple, he went for good never to return home. His parents prepared him to be sent out and a blessing to others. What was Hannah’s loss was Israel’s gain. Parents who watch their children leave the house know the pain of seeing them go but know that God has used you to raise your child to be a blessing to others.
Our Children need to be raised in such a way that they are a blessing to others. In our consumer minded society this is becoming rarer. If you want your child to be a blessing to others you have to teach them to not think of only themselves but to put others first. Doing service projects together, Mission trips together, are ways to develop in your child that it is not about them. Most families do not serve together they only consume together. Churches have been looked at like Movies or Eating Out where it is about what those things have to offer the family instead of learning to see what the family can offer the church. Israel was established to be a nation that blesses the world and God established the family to be a blessing to others as well.
Genesis 12:1-2 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. 2 “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.
Your Blessings from God are for you to bless others. Our families, our children and our church should be a blessing to others around us. The only reason we are not a blessing is because we become self-consumed with our needs and wants and not the needs and wants of those around us. Parents we are to prepare our children to be a blessing to our society
Jeremiah 29:4-7 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
We are to be a blessing to our city by raising children that are not a drain to the resources of the city. Being a good citizen is sometimes the best thing you can do for a city and when our children are a blessing to the city it is even better.
“If I teach my son to keep his eye on the ball but fail to teach him to keep his eyes on Christ, I have failed as a father. We must refuse to allow trivial, temporal pursuits to interfere with main thing. Making the team is a tremendous achievement; however, it must be put in its proper perspective. No sports endeavor will ever be as important as becoming a man or woman of God.” (Family Driven Faith, Voddie Baucham Jr., PG. 22)
Parents we do not get a do over but the good news is that parents, long after High School, are still the main influencers in their children’s lives. So it is not too late for you to continue to have an impact that can last for all eternity.