What does a godly child look like?

You may want to stop reading this blog when you discover:

  • my kids fought – one actually pulled a knife on another one time.
  • I got called to the school to discipline them.
  • I accidentally abandoned a 6 year old on a dangerous street in Central America.
  • much of the time Jana and I were at a loss for what to do – other than pray a lot.
  • we made lots of mistakes, some of which still hurt to think about.
  • we were definitely “no perfect parents”.

But, hallelujah! Our kids survived and are all thriving.
All 3 love God and love His people.
All 3 actively serve in the local church.
All 3 married spouses as passionate about the Lord as them.

How in the world did that happen?

If we’re to raise godly children we need a picture of what we’re shooting for.
What does a godly child look like?

If we think godly children never talk back, never get upset, never make messes, never disobey, never embarrass their parents, never argue or hit their sister – we are going to always be disappointed.

The only child that meets that description is a dead child.

Godly kids still behave like kids.
And behavior is important but behavior is not a good measure of godliness.

Godliness is more about inward attitudes than outward actions.
The outward behavior needs to spring from an inward desire to please God.

Jesus put it this way, First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.  Matthew 23:26

The Pharisees looked good outside but inside were full of “greed, self-indulgence and everything unclean”.

If behavior is our primary focus we are training a new generation of Pharisees.
If developing a heart that loves God and loves others is our focus we are training godly children.

First clean the inside then the outside will be clean, also.
That doesn’t mean the outside will be clean overnight.

I’ve been at this Christian walk over 40 years and still have grime on the outside – because I’m still working on grime on the inside.

Likewise, with our kids, it’s a lifelong path we set them on. Teaching them that “people look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1Samuel 16:7) And it’s God’s approval we seek. It’s His approval that matters.

Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children – Deuteronomy 6:5-7

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  • Reply Elizabeth Ziegler April 27, 2015 at 4:29 pm

    I remember once in Guatemala when you said that you could imagine your teenager “getting smaller and smaller in the rear view mirror!” At the time, I thought it was out of character for you. Now that we are training our own teenager, I get it. Our Jonathan turned 17 yesterday. He is a god student but not particularly interested in getting a part-time or summer job to save for college. What are your thoughts on motivating him to work this summer?

    • Reply Rick Malm April 28, 2015 at 6:47 am

      Funny that you would remember that because I will most certainly use that story sometime. Teens can be frustrating because they are still kids at times and yet adults at others – and usually want to be treated like adults at all times.
      As for motivating to work, they say true motivation is internal. That you aren’t truly motivating someone unless you have changed their internal attitude to a point where they WANT to do what you are requiring of them. With that definition of motivation I am not sure it is possible to motivate some young men to work. But you can still require it of him – explaining the reasons why it is required, teaches responsibility, is NOT part of the curse (Adam had a job assignment before the Fall), is part of moving into adulthood, etc, etc.
      He will likely not be impressed with all that but it is good to give him “the speech” so he can at least file it away for future reference – to give to his kid in the future.
      In the meantime, don’t panic that he is not motivated to work as that is pretty common. Be more concerned about his heart for God and be grateful if that is on track. Finally, I think of a Proverb that says, “The workers hunger drives him on.” Now THAT is internal motivation. 🙂 There will come day when he will seek out a job on his own – after mom and dad stop paying the bills. Of course, by the true definition of motivation he is still not motivated – just hungry.
      Hope that helps some. Blessings. PS – Leaving today for 6 days in Guate with CTEN missionaries.

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