Find practical teachings from God’s Word. Boys seem naturally attracted to stories about action, even violence to a certain extent. Of course, we wanted them to understand those things from a biblical perspective. And the Bible is full of great stories. That meant looking at the characters of the Bible and how their lives represented Christ, how they heard from and obeyed God, and also how sometimes they failed to do so. Also, reading through Proverbs and Ecclesiastes was another helpful tool to help implant wisdom in our boys. We talked about the stories of the Bible and how they impacted us today.
Individualize teaching time for the child. We seldom did the typical Bible study setting. We weren’t the weekly family devotion family. It simply didn’t work for us. We looked for teachable moments with our boys—for one boy, with me that was often while pitching a baseball together, and for the other it was while kicking a soccer ball. Bedtime was another opportune time for teaching. It is amazing what children will do to delay bedtime, but if the discussion is productive we always felt their character development was most important. Dinner time was another opportunity when we could talk about the things of God.
Be purposeful to talk about the specific character traits you want your child to have. We decided each year what was most important for each boy to learn that year. We purposely brought up character topics, such as honesty or how to treat girls, and discussed it with them during teaching moments when we had their full attention.
Be willing to grow in your own learning of who Christ is. Over the years, our understanding of who Christ is and how He relates to us and the world around us has continually grown. We allowed our boys to walk through those changes with us. We weren’t afraid to let them know we didn’t have answers or that we were wrong.
Pray and trust Christ. I know plenty of examples where parents did everything we did, yet they haven’t experienced the same results. Only God’s grace can really build godliness and every child has the ability to resist that grace. In the end, do all you know to do and trust God with your children.
I took personally that one of my responsibilities as a father was to see that these implemented in our home. I am thankful for a supporting wife who has worked with me to balance my role with her more nurturing role (which she is excellent at completing). So far, our now adult young men are following after God’s heart in their own way.
My role has changed from my boy’s primary teacher to one of a mentor or coach. I’m their friend—still their dad, but it’s different now. They call me regularly for advice. They want my input in their life. More than anything, however, I’m thankful for the godly young men they have become.