Parents, Take Heed | 3 Tips for Training Up a Child

Jonathan Mohr, director of communications for the United Pentecostal Church International, offers tips for training up a child during this COVID-19 season.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit North America last spring, the cancellations came in rapid succession. Our district youth convention, the main event on our family’s spring calendar, was called off. Summer youth camps were quickly deemed too much of a liability as the virus worked its way through the population. Closer to home, Sunday school and youth classes were put on hold as our local church struggled to figure out how to minister effectively in the face of government restrictions and public fears.

I am not second-guessing any decision to cancel worship gatherings. I believe our leaders acted with prudence and wisdom. My children, ages nine and eleven at the time, were disappointed they didn’t get to spend part of the summer with friends on the district campground, but they seemed to understand.

As a parent, I too was disappointed—disappointed that my children were missing out on life-changing preaching, prayer, and worship. I know the positive spiritual impact camps, conventions, and classes have made on my children, and I remember how important those events were in my formative years. I hated that my children were missing out on these experiences, if only for a single summer.

My Primary Duty as a Parent Is to Instruct My Children

Without these big events to help shape their spiritual well-being, I was reminded again that my children’s spiritual instruction is my responsibility, not the Sunday school teacher’s, the youth pastor’s, or the district youth president’s. Helping my children become disciples of Jesus Christ is one of my primary duties as a parent, and it’s a responsibility that can’t be delegated.

Tips for Training Up a Child

  1. Biblical instruction should come from parents daily.

Effective spiritual instruction can’t be relegated to one hour on Sunday, a youth convention in the spring, or even a week-long summer camp. With those events canceled due to COVID-19, Moses’ instructions to Israelite parents are more pertinent than ever. Moses told the people that teaching spiritual precepts to their sons and daughters was a daily effort. “You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 11:19, NKJV). At home, on the road, early in the morning, and late at night—anywhere and everywhere is a classroom where children can learn God’s Word and ways.

Helping my children become disciples of Jesus Christ is one of my primary duties as a parent, and it’s a responsibility that can’t be delegated. Click To Tweet

We do not yet know everything 2021 will bring. Hopefully relief from the pandemic will soon come, and our families will be gathering on the district campground this summer. Until then, we must seize daily opportunities to teach our children the importance of faith and faithfulness, and we must not take the lessons learned this past year for granted.

  1. Look for teachable moments.

The best way to accomplish this is to heed Moses’ command in Deuteronomy 11:18.

My son and daughter’s childhood may not look exactly like mine, but the same God who kept me will keep them.

He told the people, “You shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul.” When God’s Word is hidden in my own heart and soul, it will come out when I interact with my children. I won’t have to force teaching opportunities: they will naturally occur as we walk the road of life together. I just need to be sensitive to God’s Spirit and be prepared at every opportunity.

  1. Seek God’s guidance.

Whatever happens in 2021, we already have what it takes to help our children grow and mature spiritually. My son and daughter’s childhood may not look exactly like mine, but the same God who kept me will keep them. And He’s helping me and you as we do our best to teach our children His ways.

Jonathan Mohr serves as director of communications for the United Pentecostal Church International and is a member of the Family Ministries Council. He and his wife, Tollie, have two children, Nolan and Ella. A miniature goldendoodle rounds out their household.

Resources and Links for the Family

The Apostolic Family: Insight for Living in the Twenty-First Century: This book is an essential resource on some of the dynamics of Apostolic families covering a wide range of topics such as parenting young children, teens, and adults; singles, marriage, elders, and disability. With rich insight from David K. Bernard, Brent & Rachel Coltharp, Stan Gleason, Anthony Mangun, Cindy Miller, David Norris, and others, this book will be of tremendous value to any individual who wants to improve relationships with family members.