Today’s Reading: 1 Corinthians 15
A woman asked her pastor when she should start training her child in spiritual things. “Should I start at six?”
“No,” he said. “That’s too late.”
“At three years old?”
“Still too late.”
“Then when should I?” she asked.
“With the grandparents.”
That means my mom and dad for me and for my children. It’s about generational influence.
In today’s chapter we will see how important relationships are.
The other day I called my mom and thanked her for doing a devotional with me every morning when I was growing up. She already read the Daily Bread devotion with its corresponding Scripture and prayed the verse over me.
Today as a parent, guess who never lets their kids leave the house without praying? Me! Where do you think I learned that?
Every morning before my four children leave for school, I pray over them. I would encourage you to do this as well. For your children. Your grandchildren. Your nieces and nephews.
My children never leave the house without me praying these three things: First, I pray to make them great students like Daniel.
Daniel 1:20 says, “In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom [NIV].”
So I pray, “Make them ten times better, God. Give them a great ability to learn. Your Word says in Daniel 1:17 that God gave these four youths great ability to learn, that they soon mastered all the literature and science of the time and that You gave to Daniel special ability in understanding the meanings of dreams and visions.”
Second, I pray to make them great Christians (that God would give them great convictions and great boldness for the things of God), like Joseph and Esther who stood for God in the public arena (See Genesis 41 and Esther 5).
Third, I pray for God to give them god-honoring friendships. And then I pray 1 Corinthians 15:33 over them: “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character [NIV].” My children can quote this verse and do it with a tiredness in their voices because they have heard it literally hundreds of times.
I also add a companion verse to it, which I discovered recently: “The righteous choose their friends carefully” (Proverbs 12:26, NIV).
There is a difference between authority and influence. As Erwin McManus explains in Seizing Your Divine Moment: “Influence is always more powerful than authority. Authority can shape what a person does, but influence shapes who a person becomes.” McManus says to look in the middle of the word influence and what do you see? Flu. “People who are influential pass on what they have like the flu. If you don’t want what they’ve got, stay away from them because they’ll sneeze all over you.” People with influence are contagious. How does the flu get passed on? “Human contact, but proximity still endangers your contamination. . . . And through our character we pass on attitudes, values, and other life-shaping virtues. . . . Character is the resource from which our influence draws. Relationships are the venue through which influence travels. Influence is defined as ‘a power affecting a person, thing or course of events’ especially one that operates without any direct or apparent effort.”
Here is what I think I have learned about influence with raising children. Children are influenced on four levels at different ages/stages.
Stage 1: From birth to twelve, parents are the most powerful voices in their lives.
Stage 2: When they hit their teens, from ages thirteen to nineteen, peers become the more powerful influence. This is where, as parents, we need to be cognizant of who they hang with. We still have some control of who they are with. We want to be the house where they all want to hang out, so we have more influence.
Stage 3: Once they graduate high school, ages twenty to twenty-nine, their professors and heroes become the overwhelming influence on them. They start imitating and admiring and wanting to be like a musician, an athlete, a writer, etc. A professor becomes a new voice of authority to them. (Quick note: when choosing a college, my advice is to remember that the subjects are the same, so get them connected to school that is connected to a great church.)
Stage four: Finally, things come full circle back to parents. By age thirty, most kids realize their parents are pretty wise. As Mark Twain is claimed to have remarked, “As one boy said, ‘I was thinking all these horrible thoughts about my parents when suddenly it hit me, if they’re all that bad, how come I’m so wonderful?’”