By Joel Persinger
It is every Christian parent’s dream to baptize their children. Dee Anne and I had the joy of baptizing our son Nick this past April (watch the baptism on the video below). Since Nick’s baptism we have learned a few things that I would like to pass along.
The days and weeks building up to a baptism of your kids are times of deep prayer and reflection. Your child is studying the bible several times a week to learn what he or she must know before making the decision to follow Christ. You spend a lot of time begging God for your child’s salvation and looking back at what you did right and where you messed up at the same time. You’ll find that you’ve messed up a lot and this is part of what leads you to much prayer.
It would be nice if that was all it took, but your life will take some interesting turns that you may not expect. First, your schedule will be a disaster because you’ll be doing all the things that parents of teenagers usually do, plus running your child to Bible studies all over the place at oddball times of day. Then there are all the stupid things that come up. Suddenly your kid, who never seems to get into big trouble, gets into big trouble. It could be a problem at school, high school drama with a close friend, a sudden desire to date or you may have the police knocking at your door. The thing to remember is that YOU are in a battle for your child’s salvation. This latest disaster, however terrible it may seem, is nothing more than the devil’s attempt to hang-on to your kid. Never, never, never stop praying and fighting for your child!
When the day finally arrives and your child comes out of the water a saved soul, you truly realize the greatness of God. Baptizing your children cannot be done without God’s intervention and it probably will not be done in your timeframe or in a way prescribed by you. It will happen when God says it will happen. He knows best. God is the one who turns those mistakes you made as parents into good and He is the one who truly brings your child’s heart to Jesus.
So, there you are at the baptizmal. You’re clothing is all wet because your kid just came out of the water and gave you the best and deepest hug you have ever received. You’re thinking, “Thank you God… The battle is over.” But, you couldn’t be more wrong. You have just managed to baptize your child. Jesus has forcefully snatched your kid from the hands of Satin and the devil is not a happy camper. What you must know and be prepared for is the simple fact that the war for your child’s salvation has only just begun. By comparison, getting your child baptized was easy. So, now that I’ve frightened you to death, here are some quick tips to help you guide your child to maturity in Christ. They are in no particular order. I typed them for you as I thought of them.
1. Think spiritually: This is a spiritual battle, not a worldly one. If you get caught-up in the worldly view of whatever disasters strike, you will miss the point and lose the battle. You cannot fight spiritual battles with weapons of the world. Use your Bible as the weapon that it is. Your Bible isn’t called a sword for nothing. Gently, but firmly bring your child back to the Bible.
2. Walk with God: Your kids know you better than you do. If you are walking powerfully with the Lord, they will see it and will emulate it. The reverse is also true, so be careful. Your example is the one they will see most. Show them an example of Christ in you.
3. Pray: Pray continually about everything and especially about your child’s salvation. Pray with your children and as a family every single day.
4. Have quiet times with God along with your child. Nick needed that time with me and with God as he approached becoming a teen. He still does. So, I got him up at 5:30AM each Saturday. We went to a different place each time; a place where he could see God. One week we went to the tide pools at the beach. The next week I took him to a mountain lake. We talked and prayed and sometimes we opened the Bible and read a scripture that fit the moment. Then we went to Nick’s favorite taco stand and got a burrito together. We were home by 8:30AM. Nick still asks, “Hey Dad, can we get a burrito?” My answer is always, “You bet!” He cherishes those times. So do I and so does God.
5. Be real: Nothing encourages your children more than when you are real with them. I don’t hide my sin from my kids. I talk about it with them. I’m open about it and I pray to God about it in front of them. Obviously, some sins we commit, such as sexual impurity, are best not discussed with your small children. But: anger, impatience, worry, unfaithfulness, selfishness and the like are all things that our children should see us struggle against in prayer and openness. They need to see us run to God for help. That way they will learn to run to Him too.
6. Patience is the key: Your newly baptized child is now a baby in Christ. You are essentially raising a newborn again. Newborn Christians need to learn everything from scratch. Don’t assume that they know how to get advice or how to read and study their Bible or even how to pray or what to pray about. My son loves to help people who are in trouble. What he doesn’t know, is how to do it. He tends to jump right into the trouble with them and finds himself in trouble too as a result. His heart is in the right place. He just needs training in order to be able to get the job done without getting smashed to the ground spiritually in the process. The important thing is for my wife and I to help him learn how to help others without causing him to lose the heart to do so in the process. This can only be done with prayer, patience and training.
7. Remember the Holy Spirit: Your newborn Christian child has a helper that he or she didn’t have before, the Holy Spirit. You will be amazed as you watch God’s Spirit guide your child and work to mold that young heart. It is truly a miracle to behold. Whatever you do, do not hinder the Spirit of God, not in your own life or your child’s. Listen!
8. Use your team: Work with your teen minister and with the other teens to help your child work through issues and challenges. They will come in great number and you will need the help. You must remember that you are not alone. You have God and you have your fellow Christians. Work as a team.
I hope these things are helpful and I pray that your children will come to Christ as our son has. God is good!