As of this month, I have a 3.5 year old, almost 2 year old, and a 4 month old. My days are full of sticky hands, laughter, and caring for a variety of needs for my three children. These little years are transformative and shaping (in their lives and mine!). They are learning not only colors and shapes (not the four month old…that would be impressive), but how to communicate effectively, how to care for others, and how to love and forgive. They are learning what it means to live as image bearers of God- how to be godly men and women. Each day, amidst the many tasks I have to do, the most important one is raising my children to glorify God as image bearers of their Creator.
“Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth.“
Malachi 2:15 (emphasis mine)
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
There are times when I don’t feel equipped for this calling- teaching little ones how to love God and live godly lives. How can I teach them to be patient when I myself am impatient with them? How can I teach them to love and obey God when I myself sin every day? I am a broken, sinful, imperfect woman. And yet God has equipped me for this calling through His Holy Spirit working within me and by giving me His Word. Likewise, He has called you not to be a “good” mom as the world defines good (cue those lovely Instagram posts, flattering Pinterest outfits, and clever TikTok videos), but a godly mom- a mother who is quick to confess and repent when she sins against her children, who is diligent to teach her children about God, and whose own heart and actions show she deeply loves and knows God.
Whether you are with your children all day or see them only before and after your work day, it is our privilege and responsibility as mothers to trust God and in faith raise children to be godly men and women despite our own shortcomings. The outcome of their salvation is ultimately in God’s hands, but we can live in faith to teach them to love and obey God and trust Him with their hearts.
While only three years into the journey of motherhood myself, I can already see how this process of raising children to love God is not a sprint, but a marathon over the course of many years. Each day may raise our children to be godly image bearers by fighting for their hearts, teaching them the things of God, and trusting Him to transform their hearts.
Fight For Their Hearts
“Hear, my son, your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching; Indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head and ornaments about your neck.”
Each day with young children offers countless opportunities for a mother’s teaching. I have to be observant in watching not only their actions, but identifying their heart motivation as well. I watch for anger, rebellion, and coveting (to name a few), and help them learn how to identify these sins in their hearts, how to confess and repent, and how to seek forgiveness. All the while confessing to them when I sin against them and asking for their forgiveness (it is very humbling to ask a 3 year old to forgive you for unnecessary anger or impatience!).
Teach Them The Things of God
“You shall teach [these words of mine] to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates…”
Devotionals with toddlers can be quite interesting. Some days their responses are heartfelt and encouraging, while other days they respond with a blank stare and handing me a fistful of macaroni and cheese. Regardless, be encouraged that you are building a foundation on the Word that God will use throughout their lifetime. In Proverbs 31, we see how King Lemuel’s mother diligently taught him about godly living. Similarly, Paul writes to Timothy in the New Testament:
“You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
2 Timothy 3:14-17
Trust Him to Transform Their Hearts
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
It is God alone who saves the souls of our children. Being born into a Christian family, relying on free will, or declaring they are a Christian will not make our children love God. Only He alone has the power to do this. Yet we are still called to raise them up in the things of God while we trust Him to bring them from death to life. Let us be diligent to lead our children in their spiritual walks, have hope, and pray each day for God to soften their hearts and call them to Himself!