Last week a great question was posed to me. I was asked how I go about “spiritually cleaning” when it comes to items that belong to my boys. The point was made that it could cause bitterness or rebellion and I agree, it very well could.
Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
One thing we do when it comes to situations like this is we ask, what are we teaching them in the way we approach this? How are we training them? If we take a “I’m the parent do as I say” approach then it may teach them to submit but it could also cause them to rebel. And just to be clear we are talking about older children, approximately 12 and up.
The problem we run into at this age is that our children are attempting to discover who they are and why they believe what they believe. If we simply tell them what to think then it leaves room for doubt in their mind whereas if we teach them to seek God for themselves and make decisions based on their own research then we have taught them, or trained them, a life lesson that is beneficial in the future. Teaching a child at this age to simply believe what he is told is dangerous. Our children need to learn to discern and discover answers for themselves.
In this particular situation what we did was begin by praying with our boys and asking God to reveal to their hearts anything that may be dishonoring to Him. We waited a few days and watched as our kids came to us with different possessions: video games, trading cards, toys, and music. God had prompted them to question each item. What we directed them to do at this point is that if they already knew for certain that God wanted them to get rid of it then they should do so without hesitation. If they were uncertain then we directed them to do research on the item and then make a decision as to whether it was beneficial to their life and glorifying to God.
For example, one of the items was a military video game. The game was rated for teens and by all worldly means it was okay for him to play it. But, as my son did research he discovered that children who play video games more than 3 hours a week are 10 times more likely to have low test scores, be more violent, unproductive in sports, and have a weaker social life than those who don’t. In the end he made the decision that this game wasn’t the best way to spend his time.
Another example is some wizard cards that my kids had. I had no idea they even brought them into the house. Apparently one of the neighborhood kids traded them with my child for something else. These cards had spells and other evil looking creatures on them. My son had been having nightmares at night and said that when he saw all of these cards he recognized some of the creatures as the ones that were in his dreams. He burned them without hesitation.
In all of these examples we trained our children how to make decisions instead of making the decisions for them. This is a lesson they can take with them throughout life. We won’t always be there to spiritually clean their rooms and homes but now they know how to do it themselves. And, it strengthened their relationship and walk with God.
This also makes me consider what I would have done had they not been so receptive. If they had not been then I would have gone back to God in prayer and sought Him for direction. I would have also, in prayer, spoke words of truth over my sons and allowed God to change them from within. I do believe God would honor that. What are your thoughts?