by Bette Owens
Acts 11:23 – “Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.”
How are children reared with a purpose? How did we do it? What did we do that families are not doing today? Raising children to have a purpose is done on purpose! When I look at the average Christian family today, it seems as if they do not really believe God’s Word. That may sound harsh, but it appears that they just do not take God’s Word literally. Families just pick and choose what they like or want to obey. It is okay to believe God’s Word when it comes to salvation, and “thou shalt not steal or kill,” but suddenly when it comes to faithfulness to church, soulwinning, tithing, or “Go ye into all the world…”, then we think God does not really mean what He says or that part of Scripture does not apply to us.
When we first got married, my husband and I wanted to serve God. When we read the Bible we believed that all of it applied to us and that living the Bible works, so we followed it. Whatever God said applied to us and was important to us. When God said to be faithful to church, we were. Nothing was more important than going to church: not a family reunion, the Super Bowl, a job, a headache, bad weather, mother-in-law or grandmother visiting, a funeral, etc. Nothing kept us from God’s house. When we read the Bible and it said, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel…”, we believed that applied to us and to our children, and we started supporting missionaries. We never read in the Bible that we should get an education to become a doctor, lawyer, or vet. If God said it, that settled it, and we learned to like it. It did not matter whether we agreed at first or not; this was God speaking to us. God was not here for us, but we were here for God! On purpose, we were going to follow God and serve Him with all of our hearts.
What is your purpose? What is God’s purpose for you?
Many go through life just doing a routine, or living as if “whatever happens, happens.” We did not believe in, “Well, we’ll wait and see what happens.” We made it happen. If God says it, it is possible!
Do we really live our lives with a purpose?
Parents will say that they want their children to grow up and do right. Some will even add that they want them to serve God, yet I see very few who have that purpose or direction in their lives. Everything we did was for the purpose of serving Jesus and to bring honor and glory to Him. In Matthew 22:37, “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” We knew we had to give God our whole hearts. This means there was no room left for anything else. As we were living for Him, we would also pray and ask God to show us things in our lives that we needed to do or not to do in order better serve Him. This included the way we dressed, the places we went, the jobs we had, and the children we would have. The only thing that mattered to us was to live for and to bring honor and glory to our Saviour. We on purpose determined that nothing and no one would stop us.
We on purpose served Him. When we prayed, we asked God to help us serve Him and to help us to stand strong in following the Word of God. We prayed that God would give us children to raise for Him and that they would serve Him. They were not to serve Him by accident, but on purpose. We even prayed that if our children were not going to serve God that He would just take them. Our whole purpose in having children was so we could raise them with a purpose to serve God. Was that an easy request to pray? No. However, we meant it, and on purpose we have raised our children to serve God. Is it a surprise that they are all serving Him today? Was it an accident? Did they have to wait for some spiritual calling? No. It was on purpose, and God called them.
As our children were growing up, they knew that the most important thing in life was serving Jesus Christ. Nothing came between us and our purpose: not a job, school, family reunion, bad weather, finances, sickness, a broken-down car, fear, sports, vacations, hobbies, or feelings. I could go on and on. We put everything into serving the Lord. He was and is our purpose for living. We had a purpose and nothing came between us and our purpose. Better yet, God gave us a purpose and we were set on fulfilling that purpose. Our children have a purpose because they were trained on purpose, and they followed our example. In order to raise children with a purpose, parents must first have their own purpose and believe God’s Word. If we do not understand this truth from God’s Word about purpose, we are no different from the unsaved parent. Any unsaved parent or carnal Christian can raise a child to adulthood or can even instill character. Only a Christian parent who believes God, makes serving Him their purpose in life, and truly follows His Word can raise a child with Christian character who will serve Him with purpose of heart.
Now, we must understand the cost.
Just because we have a purpose and live it does not mean that opposition, heartache, or disappointment will not come.
They will indeed come because these things are all part of life. Opposition and problems do not mean that we have the wrong purpose or that we are going in the wrong direction. We must now teach our children how to handle these obstacles. Our children are not perfect, and when they did wrong or made mistakes, we had to be very careful that we did not just give up and think, “God cannot use them now.” We sometimes have a hard time moving past the hurt to see the real picture. When troubles come, the carnal response is to get bitter against others or against God. We play the blame game, the cry-baby game, or the quitting game. We have to be careful when our children disappoint us or when there is an obstacle that we do not think that God is finished with them. Every one of us has messed up. Let us quit dwelling on our children’s faults or life’s unfairness and get busy helping them move on to accomplish their purpose. Other people may have their opinions and even think that their children are never going to make anything of themselves, but we understand that God is still cheering them on. If every time our children were told they would never amount to anything for God, had they believed that and given up, none of our children would be serving God today! Just because children get demerits in Bible college, or smarts off to a teacher, or makes a wrong choice does not mean God is through with him. No one is perfect; everyone is a sinner. Just because children do not fit into a certain mold or do not follow some man-made course does not make them failures. We must keep working with them and encouraging them. God just might need them to go in a different direction, or their troubles may be just the experience they needed to accomplish their purpose. We must continue to remind them to on purpose follow their purpose.
There would not be any pastors, missionaries, or great men of God if, when they messed up, someone was not there to encourage them to keep going. We have this crazy idea that because we are living the Christian life (praying, tithing, reading our Bibles, and being faithful to God’s house) that this will make everything perfect and there will be no opposition. We sometimes think that nothing will break down, and we will all live happily ever after. This is so far from the truth! Even when we are serving the Lord things will still break down, sickness will still come, discouragement will still come, and life will still go on to be what we make it, on purpose. We are still living here on Earth, and we are not exempt from the problems of life.
We have to teach our children how to handle things in life. Problems are an opportunity to teach. Deuteronomy 13:3-4, “…for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.” It is the opposition, discouragement, and problems in life that can turn our hearts from our purpose and cause bitterness if we do not learn how to handle these things and teach our children how to handle them. For every wrong action in life there is a right reaction. We must teach our children how to react correctly.
Our children know that obstacles in life are not there to stop us, but to build us. We taught them to use the problems to help them to fulfill their purpose, not to stop them. Almost daily in our house the statement could be heard, “What do you think you should do, and what does God say you should do? So, what should you do?” We made it clear to them that it does not matter what I, the parent, say or their teacher says. We wanted them to know what God said. Anyone who has ever done anything for the Lord has had to stand alone and face great opposition, even from well-meaning Christians. Psalm 119:69, “The proud have forged a lie against me: but I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart.” We must teach our children to do right, no matter what the obstacle is, and to follow what they know God wants them to do, no matter what others say. Some will say it is impossible. Others will say they will never make it, and that they will not amount to anything. Some will even say, “Not everyone will serve God full-time.” That does not matter when we have a purpose and follow it on purpose. When this is the case, nothing will stop them. It is a necessity to have a burning desire to follow our God-given purpose.
It was no surprise to us when our sons, who are missionaries, raised their support in record time. Others said, “You cannot do it,” but they did. They had a purpose and nothing was going to keep them from their purpose. When they worked secular jobs, they did it well and moved up fast because they had a purpose. The purpose was not to get rich but to get them to where God wanted them. It is no surprise to us that we have four sons on the mission field. It is also no surprise to us that our daughters are pastor’s wives, assistant pastor’s wives, or serving in a good church by soulwinning and teaching Sunday school. Everything in our lives is for the purpose of serving Him. Everything was used on purpose as a means to accomplish our purpose.
1 Samuel 12:24 – “Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart; for consider how great things he hath done for you.”
We must not wait to teach our children that they need to serve the Lord. We knew our children were going to serve the Lord before they were ever born. Their whole purpose in coming into this world was to serve Him. We believed that they were called at conception to serve Him. It was all done on purpose. This may be blunt, but we did not want to have children if they were not going to serve the Lord. No one ever accomplished more than their purpose. We must hold our purpose and our children’s purpose high. God’s purpose for a husband and wife is to be fruitful and multiply, not to raise a bunch of humans who do not have a purpose or do not love God. They are to produce many more Christians who have a purpose, love the Lord, and want to serve Him. We would be better off with no children if they are not going to serve Him. We did not wait around for God to “call” our children to serve Him. We did not wait around for our children to “figure out” what God wanted them to do. We picked up a Bible and told them what God wanted them to do. We on purpose trained our children to serve Him. We on purpose had them around evangelists, missionaries, and preachers. Whenever an evangelist, missionary, or preacher was visiting our church, we had them in our home. If they were within driving distance, we went to hear them. Our children understood that these people were very important servants of God. They enjoyed talking to them and listening to them. We made great men of God our heroes, which in turn became our children’s heroes. We never considered a doctor, lawyer, politician, policeman, fireman, nurse, celebrity, or ball player a hero and neither did our children. These people may do good deeds or have some talent, but the real heroes are those serving the Lord. Missionaries, preachers, and evangelists were those that our children knew were important people, and we knew one day our children would be doing the same tasks that these men and women were doing. All of our children knew that their purpose for being alive was to serve God. They never had any doubt that their parents’ purpose was to serve God, and they determined to do the same. They also knew that they had to work hard to accomplish their purpose, that it is not always the easy road, but that it is the only road worth traveling. They believed it was the only life that brings honor and glory to Jesus Christ.
2 Timothy 3:10-17 – “But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”