Recently I shared the post: 5 Ways to Lead Your Children’s Hearts to Christ where I talked about practical ways you can help your kids understand their need for a Savior. Only He can truly change their hearts. I will be discussing each of the 5 ways in more detail in the coming weeks.
Today we will be discussing number one, “Keeping Distractions at Bay.”
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 (NLT)
Distractions can keep our children from loving and following God with all their hearts. There are two types of distractions I am talking about.
The first type includes things that are good but that can become idols. For example, when our kids are more focused on their peer-group or favorite activities than on God, it is easy to let these “good things” become number one in their life and take the place of God.
The second type of distractions include negative influences that can lead our children into sin or believing things contrary to God’s truth. If our children are around these type of influences, the enemy can use them to pull our kids away from their growing relationship with Christ.
Here are four ways to keep these distractions away from our children, so they can more easily grow in their relationship with the Lord.
1. Realize there is a battle for our children’s hearts.
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12
Leading our children to the Lord is a very real battle. We know from scripture that the enemy wants nothing more than to keep our children from following God. Half the battle is knowing there IS a battle.
When we are making decisions about where our children go, with whom they spend time, and what entertainment they watch, we can consider if the messages they will be hearing come from God’s truth or from the enemy’s lies. If they are messages that sound like the enemy, (fear, following your heart (emotions), idolatry, lusts of the world) do we really want our children to be hearing those types of messages?
We can use the questionable messages they happen to hear as teaching points to call out the lies and help our children learn discernment. However, just as the FBI studies real dollar bills to discern the counterfeit bills, the more we can focus our kids on God’s truth and not the enemy’s lies, the better equipped they will be to stand for and discern His truth.
2. Recognize the Distractions
You shall have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:3 (ESV)
The enemy and his tactics can be so deceptive that sometimes we don’t even recognize them. Just like in the Garden of Eden, the apple looked good, not evil. We as parents can become deceived and buy into the lies that the world is trying to feed us while parenting too. One such lie is that we need to make our children happy, whereas God says in His Word to make our children holy. (Leviticus 11:44-45)
We need to be alert to these little lies from our culture hidden in the themes of movies or lyrics of songs, so that we can talk about them with our kids. We will then be able steer them away from messages that will distract our kids from thinking Biblically.
Other distractions may not be overtly negative, but they become an idol holding first place in our children’s hearts instead of God holding first place. If activities or worldly pursuits are distracting our family from growing in our knowledge, love, and devotion to God, it is better to put them aside and make Jesus number one again.
3. Choose to Be “That Mom” That Says “No”
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7
God’s Word says if we resist the devil, he will flee from us. All we have to do is say, “No!” and he’s gone, just like Jesus did in the desert when the enemy tempted him to sin.
When our kids are young they do not have the maturity to say “no” in every situation. Be aware of your kids’ environment, their peers, and their entertainment to discern when you need to say “no” for them. I have talked to so many parents whose kids have turned from God in their adult years, and they regret some of the peer groups, entertainment, and the social media messages they didn’t say “no” to at an early age. This is where the enemy lies, and we need to be vigilant to protect them from messages that are going to try to capture their heart and keep it from the Lord.
As parents, we do not like to say “no” to our kids. Of course we want them to be happy, but we have to look to see if these influences are going to draw them closer to the Lord or farther away from Him. If it’s the latter, then we can explain to them why these influences may be harmful. This will, in turn, help them learn to discern negative influences as they grow and mature.
We have seen the statistics of kids leaving the church. The consequences are too great to just appease momentary happiness to let them fit in or fill a desire.
4. Choose Godly Substitutions
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:1 (ESV)
Just like there are many great sugar-substitutes when going on a sugar-free diet, there are many great books, movies, peer groups, and environments where our children can thrive and not be influenced by the enemy’s lies. Here are a few suggestions:
Check out Go Minno, Pure Flix, or Right Now Media for great movie options.
Check out my Christian resources: at growingkidsforthekingdom.com under the resource tab, you can find reviews on books, audio dramas, devotions, and parent resources that have positive, Christian messages.
Spend quality time as a family going on adventures and choosing “family fun nights” where our kids get to pick what you do.
Find a good church and youth group where you can find like-minded parents and kids who can encourage your children in their relationship with the Lord.
Help your kids learn to focus on spending time with God and using their gifts and talents to bring Him glory rather than social media, which often leads to comparing and negative ideologies.
The enemy is prowling around like a roaring lion, but he won’t have as much opportunity to devour our children if we keep them away from the places where he roams. If Eve hadn’t been walking by the one tree she was forbidden to eat from, she may never have met the deceiver that day.
We can’t shelter our kids from temptations completely, but we can teach them to discern situations and know how to stand firm and follow God’s ways.
Realistically, our children will wander at times because we are all prone to wander, given our sinful nature. But at least when they do wander, we can help them recognize the distractions that got them off track and encourage them to get back on the road that leads to life. There is nothing greater we can do as parents.