"Experiencing Spiritual Breakthroughs" by Dr. Bruce H. Wilkinson encourages spiritual maturity in people's lives. The premise for this book is that everyone falls into three categories of spiritual status with God represented by three chairs. Everyone is sitting in one of these chairs. The First Chair person represents a committed Christian under Christ's Lordship, who has a growing personal relationship with Him. The Second Chair person represents a carnal (worldly) Christian who is compromising, inconsistent, selfish, and virtually undistinguishable from a non-Christian. The Third Chair person is an unbeliever, in conflict with God and others, who lives life totally for self.
The three ways of life signified by these three chairs have applicability to personal life, marriage, and parenting. The author takes Chapters 10 and 11 to specifically address the changes God wants us to make as Christian parents. These two chapters will be the focus of my review.
In God's mind marriage was to be the starting point for populating the world specifically with humans who would love God and serve Him.1 This quote from Dr. Wilkinson embodies the truth that our marriages are the means by which we pass godliness on to the next generation. Psalm 71:17-18 (NIV) contains this truth:
Since my youth, O God, you have taught me,
And to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.
Even when I am old and gray,
do not forsake me, O God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
your might to all who are to come.
Consider also Psalm 78:3-4,7 (NIV)
what we have heard and known,
what our fathers have told us.
We will not hide them from their children;
We will tell the next generation
The praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
His power, and the wonders he has done
Then they would put their trust in God
and would not forget his deeds
But would keep his commands.
Dr. Wilkinson explains: Evidence shows that between 80 and 85 percent of those children (who have truly committed Christian parents) come to personal faith very young before thirteen years of age.2 He also personally believes that those raised in a born-again Christian home by parents who not only loved the Lord and had a close meaningful relationship with Him, but also served Him with genuine commitment will come to know Christ as their personal Savior 100% of the time. This said, Dr. Wilkinson also states that a relatively small percent of those children become as committed to Christ as their parents and even less become even more committed than their parents. This can be described as a generational slide from First Chair parents to Second Chair children. This slide is what we are trying to avoid as Christian parents. We as parents are the greatest influence in a child's life above friends, teachers, and the media. So it stands to reason that we would want that influence to be positive, one that has the Lord at its center.
To achieve our goal of raising godly children, we must not rely on good intentions. We must make sure our actions support what we say we believe and what we want to happen. Dr. Wilkinson identifies seven parenting styles (not listed in this review) which have at their core sinful compromises such as laziness, greed, irresponsibility, fear, being outwardly religious, and worldliness. We must start in our own hearts if we want to pass on our love for God to our children.
This brings us to the practical application. The following outlines seven steps to raising godly children:
1. Love the Lord with all your heart Loving your children alone will not produce the results you are seeking. Obey God and be satisfied with His best for them, rather than doing what you think is best.
2. Know and obey God's word yourself Reading, studying, and memorizing of scripture should be a priority in parents' lives.
3. Tell your children frequently of God's works They need to hear specific stories and examples of how God has changed people's lives through provision, displays of power, answers to prayer and miracles.
4. Teach your children the truth of God's word Teaching opportunities are found formally, informally, at all times, privately, publicly.
5. Lead them to accept Jesus as their Savior They need to know Jesus loves them and that He died for their sins so they could live with Him forever. They have to choose to receive His gift of salvation and make Him the king of their life.
6. Encourage and train them to love and serve the Lord Every Christian, your child included, is called to a specific life work in which they can build God's kingdom wherever they are.
7. Take the long view The responsibility doesn't end when the children turn eighteen. The role changes to mentor and friend. There is also much value in godly grandparents.
We can have confidence and not look back with regret when we know we have carried out God's agenda for our families. We can trust Him for the outcome after we have done our best to live by His standards. How amazing that He entrusts this huge job to us! We can do it because we are learning from the best Father of all, our God.
1. Bruce Wilkinson, "Experiencing Spiritual Breakthroughs" (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, 1999), 188.
2. Ibid., 192.
Copyright 2004, Karri F. Compton