In training our children, we need to aim them toward the bulls-eye of God's destiny. Instead of focusing on the "NO" side of man's legalism (emphasizing endless rules and regulations) it's much more fulfilling to challenge our kids to live on the "YES" side of God's life and love (emphasizing His eternal plans and purposes).
With an inward determination, the archer reaches across his shoulder and selects a favorite arrow. He checks the alignment then places it in his bow. His eye is focused on the target's center as he gently pulls back, feeling the string tighten and the tension increase . . .
The Bible says, "Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one's youth" (Psalm 127:4 - NKJV). Our children (and teens) are like arrows, and God wants each of these sons and daughters to hit the target of His will for their lives.
For a moment, try to picture a scene at an archery tournament:
Imagine an archer completely distracted by his surroundings and pledging, "Okay, in today's competition, I'll try not to hit that tree, I won't shoot any arrows into the river, I'll work at aiming higher than the grass and I'll try not to skewer my opponent!"
Most likely this contestant will miss even the outer rings of his target!
As Christian parents, it's not enough to "hope" our kids won't turn out bad; instead, our goal is infinitely higher. It's not a success to merely "survive" the teenage years without kids getting drunk, smoking on cigarettes, or sneaking around with drugs. It's not enough to get your precious daughter to her eighteenth birthday without getting pregnant, or your son into adulthood without getting arrested.
Our primary parenting objective is to glorify God, and to raise our family (both together as a team, and each member individually) to love Him and to fulfill His mission-minded purpose.
If we will keep our kids aimed toward God's long-term goals and purposes, today's short term decisions will be easier.
For example, if your teenage daughter keeps focused on a future desire to have a happy family with a godly husband, she will have the self-determination to make wholesome decisions this weekend (and guard conversations and actions with both boys and girls). If your teenage son comes to realize that a college degree (and financial provision, perhaps with scholarships) may be necessary to fulfill God's plan, he will be self-motivated and hard-working in schoolwork, and diligent in extra-curricular activities, leadership, and community service.
If our kids aim at nothing, they'll hit it every time; but if they aim towards knowing God and fulfilling His purposes, even today's difficult decisions will make more sense.
Right now in our family, we're on our fifth teenager, and by God's grace, we are absolutely LOVING and thoroughly ENJOYING this season in our parenting adventure. Our goal is not to merely "survive" until our kids grow up; instead, God wants our families to "thrive" . . . through each season of our parenting and child-raising years!
God doesn't want us to live in fear of the future; instead, He wants us to live in faith and joy, seeking Him for daily wisdom with love. As Christian parents, we need to constantly rely on God's word, and seek God's grace and help for simple day-by-day integrity and character (because any thinking young person will become totally disgusted with hypocrisy and double-standards, both in the church, but especially within their own home).
Our walk with God, as parents (and spiritual leaders) in the home needs to be genuine and consistent and based on the ultimate authority of God's Word.
Here are a few recommended Christian resources for on-target and successful parenting, especially through the teenage years:
Let's "aim" our children, as arrows, to fulfill God's mission-minded purposes and the bulls-eye of His destiny (in whatever "sphere of influence" He has called them to). Let's encourage our kids (and teens) to look beyond temporary and short-term pleasures, and let's challenge our teens to even see beyond those far-off goals of high school graduation, college success, and even marriage.
Let's focus on loving God and fulfilling His purposes . . . for eternity.
Waiting a moment, the archer realigns his aim . . . relaxes slightly . . . then releases his arrow . . . to hit the bulls-eye!
Let's train our kids (and teens) on-target!