Thursday, October 30, 2008

Training Your Child's Will

How is this to be done?  The decisions of the will depend upon the impulses and motives which prompt it to action.  These impulses and motives again depend upon the objects presented to the mind, and the degree of attention they are given.  In our fallen nature, the soul is stimulated far more by the visible and the temporal, than by the unseen and the real.  The soul is deceived by what appears pleasing or beautiful.  The influence of what is present outweighs that of the future, even though it may be of infinitely grater worth. 

It is the work of the parent to present to the child the best reasons for taking certain actions and help him to refuse evil and choose good.  The parent must present to the child the beauty of virtue, the nobility and happiness of self-denial, the pleasure that duty brings, and the fear and the favor of God.  The parent creates positive emotions within the child which cause him to gladly will to choose the good.

The parent acts as a conscience for the child, calling him to be true to his higher instincts and convictions.  The parent leads him to the true pleasure with which duty rewards even the young.  The training of the child aims especially at teaching him to refuse evil and choose good when there is no parent nearby to help.  The conscience of every person is a guardian and helper of inestimable value in choosing the path of right.  Wise training can do much to establish the authority of this inner rule.  Proper training will lead the child to look upon his conscience; not as a spy, but as his truest friend and best companion.

The authority of the parent and of conscience should be linked together, so that even in the parent's absence, the weight of his influence may be felt.  The success of all true education involves helping the pupil to teach himself.  Therefore, the aim and success of moral training must be to form in the child the habit of ruling himself and always listening to the inward monitor.  Cultivate in the child the mental skills of reflection and quiet meditation, so that he may always wait to listen for the gentle inner whisper that tells him to refuse evil and choose good.  

Conscience, however, can only tell to do the right but it cannot always teach what the right is.  The mind may be wrong in its views of good and evil, and faithfulness to conscience may even lead the child to choose evil and refuse good.  Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.  Psalms 119.105

One of the most precious influences of a godly education is the consent of the heart to take God's Word as the standard of good and evil, and the desire to let it decide in every choice.  The authority of the parent, of conscience, of God's Word is a threefold cord that cannot be broken.  This cord binds the child to the throne and the will of God where he knows to refuse evil and choose good.

When the parent realizes the meaning of the words good and evil, he will see how in every step of life there are two motives struggling to be master.  Choosing between evil and good is a lifelong task which is carried out every day.  The parent will recognize the great responsibility entrusted to him of awakening, guiding and strengthening the young will of his child.  The parent will feel that if he can do this one thing well, he has done his highest work.  To know to refuse evil and choose good will be to choose Christ and holiness and eternal life.

Parents, God's highest gift to man was the freedom to CHOOSE the will of his God.  Your highest work is to take charge of that will in your child and to be God's minister in helping your child choose His service.  Realize your own incompetency to influence your child's will in which the powers of light and darkness are wrestling for supremacy.   Depend upon the leading of the Holy Spirit for the renewal of your child.  May it be your reward and his joy to see his will given up to choose good, to choose God.

Challenge:  Lord God, teach me to form and train the will of my child to refuse evil and choose good.  Make me very gentle and patient with a sense of my own willfulness.  Make me faithful to fulfill my duties as a parent, trusting in you because You are my help and my Father.  Amen.

Taken from Raising Your Children For Christ, Andrew Murray

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