Guest Article by James Overton
Recently I was studying Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go:  and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  The Lord revealed principles in this verse that   has given clear direction in raising my children for the glory of God.
The first obvious truth that is revealed in this text is that a parent can not teach or train that which he has not experienced or that which he does not know.  Many parents are expecting their children to have an acute God awareness by sending them to Christian Schools, Youth Groups, and Camps, but fail to realize the greatest influence they possess is mom and dad.
Therefore, moms and dads must first be real in their spiritual walk.
There must be a deepening relationship with God that overflows into your family.
Many families base their spiritual walk on what they do.
May I suggest that we reassess our thinking.  Mary and Martha were close to our Lord Jesus.  Martha was busy serving whereas Mary sat at the Lord’s feet and was nurtured by Him.  Jesus said, “Mary has chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
God desires us as parents to get to know Him.  Our passion for Him will enable us to impart a sense of realness and devotion to God.  This creates a desire in our young people to transfer the Creator God of mom and dad to their God.  We must be real in our walk because our children can see strait through the pseudo-christianity that we often find ourselves living.  “Having the form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.”
The second truth that penetrated my life through this text was that I have a past.
You were a teenager once.
Often, this thought does not enter the mind of your children.  Many times we forget what life was like when we were that age.  “The way he should go” is determined by God’s Word.  Many of us have walked away from God’s Word and bare the scares of those decisions.
We are afraid to share our disappointments and bad decisions because they hurt.  Communicating to our children our error will build trust and confidence. This shows that you can empathize with them.  God revealed the unwise decisions of His servants in the Bible to be an example of what not to do.
Use your past with discernment to encourage a God dependency in their life.   Understanding the forgiveness of God and our standing before Him as a sinner saved by grace will help us be gracious as we respond to the choices of our children and give them security as they share their struggles with us.
I have found that teenagers are looking for the “real deal” in Christianity.  The parent that is real in their walk with God and displays the joy of the Lord in their life, will have a faith that their children will want.  As you communicate your experiences and challenges with your child, they will see God’s intervention in your life.  This influence will never be forgotten.

James Overton has been involved with youth work for seventeen years.  Two years in Christian camping.  Fifteen years have been invested at the Newark Baptist Temple in Heath, Ohio as an intern and then assistant pastor in charge of teenagers.  God has allowed him and his wife to see many teens go on to serve the lord.  Youth Ministry has been challenging, yet very rewarding.  He thanks our Heavenly Father who counted him worthy, putting him into the ministry.

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