This is the 2nd of an excerpt from Chapter 7 of The Resolution for Men by Alex and Stephen Kendrick
One of the most important ingredients for successful parenting is having your children’s hearts. Research shows that Christians are theologically losing the next generation. More than 90% of born-again kids today are rejecting the absolute truth their parents embrace. Respected apologist Josh McDowell explains it this way: “You can be the greatest explainer of truth. But if the very heart of your son or daughter does not believe ‘my daddy loves me,’ they will walk away from your truth.”
People tend to embrace the teaching and beliefs of those who love them the most. And your children are no different. They are much more likely to accept the truth you teach if you deliver it to them within a loving, heart-to-heart relationship. Whoever has their heart has their ear.
This sheds light on why God ended the Old Testament with the need to “restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers” (Malachi 4:6). When this doesn’t happen, fathers invite the “curse” of broken relationships into their homes (verse 6). Truth will be forsaken. So the success of Christian families truly depends on parents learning to shepherd the hearts of their children.
One of the greatest challenges to any father is knowing how to properly wield his authority— how to be a gracious servant-leader rather than a demanding tyrant. Some fathers are content with outward obedience only. The heart doesn’t really matter. They just want their kids to behave. But children in that situation will jump at the chance to disobey when their dad isn’t around. They’ll go elsewhere to find their affirmation—from the wrong people in the wrong places.
You can tell when a father doesn’t have his kids’ hearts. You sense the disrespect and anger, the bitterness and emotional distance. The kids don’t want to be around him. They no longer listen to him. But children who trust their dad’s counsel and leadership are those whose fathers have been proactive in winning their hearts. “Give me your heart, my son,” Solomon said to his own child, “and let your eyes delight in my ways” (Proverbs 23:26).
One pastor wisely explained it like this:
“The key ingredient in raising good children is to get their hearts early, keep their hearts, and be extremely vigilant not to lose your children’s hearts. If you do lose your child’s heart, then quickly find out where and when you lost it, and put into action a plan to get their heart back no matter what it takes to do it. No matter how much time or trouble or money it takes to get back your child’s heart, you must decide ahead of time that you will be willing to pay the price.” – Dr. S.M. Davis
You know how to do this if you’ve ever dated or courted someone. You can tell if their heart is with you or not. You know when something is not right, when the connection between you is strained. If this is a relationship you really want to pursue, you’ll talk as long as they want, go the extra mile, fulfill any promise, do whatever it takes to make sure you have her heart and she know she has yours.
Why should your relationship with your children be any different?
Jesus was so loyal to His heavenly Father that He was able to say, “Whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner” (John 5:19). And here’s why: “For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing” (verse 20). The Father knew the heart of His Son, and the Son entrusted His heart to the Father.
How well do you have your children’s hearts?
How sure are your children that they have yours?
This article is an excerpt from Chapter 7 of the book The Resolution for Men by Stephen and Alex Kendrick with Lawrence Kimbrough Published by B&H Publishing Group, Copyright 2011 Now Available Where Books are Sold