Raising Children from a Place of Fear
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In this episode, Elizabeth Urbanowicz addresses the question about raising children from a place of fear. What is healthy vs unhealthy fear? Listen in for insight and encouragement as you disciple the children God has placed in your care.
Note: The following is an auto-transcript of the podcast recording.
Hello, friends, and welcome to another episode of the Foundation Worldview Podcast, where we seek to equip you to get the kids in your care carefully evaluating every idea they encounter so they can understand the truth of the biblical worldview. I'm your host, Elizabeth Urbanowicz, and I'm thrilled that you've joined me today for another episode of the Foundation Worldview Podcast.
Our question for today says, "How do I prepare my children without doing so from a place of fear? I was raised in a Christian homeschooling family, and yet I am the only one of my five siblings that is a Christian today." I'm so thankful that this question came in because I think it's such an important one. And so I think that is an intimidating place to be, to come from a family where your parents were intentional about discipleship and then to see that all of your siblings have walked away from Jesus and are not walking in the truth. I know that that can be a really discouraging place. So I'm just so grateful that this question came in.
And so my response, how do we disciple our children, how do we be faithful in this without doing this from a place of fear, I would say it really depends on what we mean by fear, because some fear is very healthy. Some fear is actually a godly fear. Like Proverbs 1:7 says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge." Proverbs 9:10 says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." Proverbs 10:27 says, "The fear of the Lord prolongs life." Proverbs 14:26 says, "In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence." And Proverbs 14:27 says, "The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life."
So when we are actually fearing God, when we have a healthy reality-based biblical fear of God, then that's a good thing. That's a healthy thing. That's what we're called to. We see that it brings life, it brings security, it brings wisdom, it brings knowledge. And so when we fear God above all else, that's a place of truth. Now, if we fear anything else above God, that's idolatry, and that is not a good fear. It's not a healthy fear. It's saying that we're actually believing that something has more power than God has. It's saying that we're not actually trusting God. Instead, we're trusting in ourselves to protect us, where we know this type of fear is not the type of fear that honors the Lord because it is idolatry.
As I read this question the first time I was thinking of Second Timothy chapter one, and specifically I want to read for us verses five through nine. So Paul is writing to Timothy, and in Second Timothy 1:5-9, he says, "I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother, Lois and your mother, Eunice, and now I am sure dwells in you as well. For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control. Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began."
And so in this, the part I wanted us to focus on is that God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control because of who he is, because of what he has done for us, because of the power of the gospel we are not to fear. And so we need to remember that the gospel should cause us to have a rightly placed fear. So when you're thinking about the fear that you have for your children, think about, "Okay, am I fearing the Lord in this or am I fearing something else that's actually idolatry?"
And now, most of our fear, most of our anxiety, all of our anxiety, I should say, actually stems from a place of not fearing God the most. And so whenever we find ourselves in a situation of anxiety, I think it's really helpful to ask ourselves several questions to help shift over from a place of anxiety to a place of actually resting in the Lord by fearing him above all else.
So the first question that I think is really good to ask is, "What am I fearing or what is causing me anxiety?" So just so that we recognize what are we fearing? So in this case, I would assume that the person who wrote in this question is fearing that his or her kids will walk away from Jesus just as their siblings did. So fearing, "What if my kids walk away from Jesus?" And then I would also assume that another part of this fear stems from that if this person's kids walk away from Jesus, part of that would stem from parenting decisions that this person has made. So recognizing, "Okay, why am I fearing? I'm fearing that my kids will walk away from Jesus and that it will be my fault."
Then the second question that I think is really helpful to ask ourselves is, "Why am I fearing this thing? Why is it that this thing is causing me anxiety?" So in this case, I would assume, I can't be a hundred percent positive because I haven't talked to this person, I would assume that this person is fearing this because of what he or she has seen happen to their siblings. "So why am I fearing this thing? Because this is what happened to my siblings. I love my children. I want them to know and love Jesus, and I'm fearing failure as a parent." So the answer to this question, "Why am I fearing this? Because I saw it happen to my siblings, because I love my children and because I'm fearing that I'm going to be a failure as a parent."
So once we've recognized what am I fearing, why am I fearing this, another helpful question to ask is even if the worst were to happen, okay, even if all my fears came true, what remains true? Even if the worst happens, all my fears materialize, what still remains true? And so even if all of the children in our care walk away from Jesus, they don't love him, they don't trust him, they don't repent of their sin, what's still true? God is still sovereign. God is still sovereign overall. The gospel, the good news of the gospel is still true. God is still good. God can still use our mistakes in parenting for his glory and even for our children's good. Another truth to remember is that God loves our children even more than we do. So these are truths that we need to remember. Even if the worst happens, these things are true.
And the final question that I think is important for us to ask ourselves is what action steps can I take to live out truth in this situation? So once I've just reminded myself that God is sovereign, God is good, God is faithful, the gospel is true, God loves my children even more than I do, what can I do? What action steps can I take? In this situation, I think some good action steps would be to remind ourselves that our children belong to God and not to us.
Another good action step would be to pray for our children, to pray for them fervently that God would soften their hearts towards him, that he would let them feel the weight of their sin, that he would bring them into relationship with him. Also, pray for wisdom in parenting. You know, have no idea the different situations you're faced with every day. So pray for your children's hearts. Pray for wisdom for yourself, for parenting. God, give me wisdom that I need for everything I'm going to encounter today.
Then strategically learn how to be a more effective parent, how to parent well while also leaving the results to God. Read scripture. Read scripture. Talk to those in your church about how to parent well. Take parenting classes, do more research. I hope you know our Foundation Worldview curriculums are part of your family discipleship in teaching your kids to understand the truth of the Christian worldview. And then with all these things, trusting God with them that God is the one who's sovereign over the results. You are not. And thank God for the privilege of parenting your kids. As scary as it is, thank him for the privilege of this.
And then I would encourage you, after you've gone through these four questions, pour your heart out to God. Let him know your fears, your anxieties. Ask him to help you fear him above all else. And then share this with a trusted brother or sister in Christ. Share with them, "Hey, I'm struggling with this. This is what I'm fearing." And so that they can hold you accountable. "How are you doing with this week? Are you trusting God? Are you praying consistently for your kids? What are you doing to intentionally disciple them within your home?" So that would be the first part of my answer to this question is really get to the root of what you're fearing, why you're fearing it, what's true, and then what you can do in response to these fears.
And then the second thing I would encourage you, which I kind of already mentioned, is be intentional about your parenting. Be intentional about how you're using this time that God has given you with these children. And so the things I would recommend, the first thing I would recommend, be intentional about building relationship with your children. The gospel is all about relationship. It's all about God reconciling us to himself. And so relationship with our children is key. Seek to do what is genuinely best for them where you're meeting not necessarily their felt needs but their actual needs. What is best for your child in a situation? What is the best discipline situation? What is the best schooling situation? What is the best routine and rhythm for life? Seek to actually seek their good.
Then in discipline, discipline out of a place of love, making sure that you're continuing that relationship, that you're not just crushing their spirit, that you're not disciplining out of a place of anger that's going to cut down your relationship with them. And then in times when you sin against them, make sure that you repent so that you're continuing to build that relationship with them.
Just as a very practical thing, I was talking with a friend about this earlier today, how important it is just to know how do our children best give and receive love? Do our children most want a hug? Do they most want something like a little gift that they love, like a dessert that they like or a sticker or something else? Do they need time with us? Do acts of service speak of love to them? Do they need a word of encouragement? Learn how to love them well as God has uniquely gifted and designed them. So that would be the first thing. Really strive to build relationship.
Second thing, immerse them in God's word. It's God's word through the power of His Holy Spirit that transforms us. So immerse yourself, immerse your family in scripture. So first thing to do, make sure that you're immersing yourself in scripture, that you're reading scripture every day, that you have it playing in the background as you're cooking or cleaning or preparing things or driving to work or dropping the kids off at soccer practice. Immerse yourself in God's word and then train your kids to study scripture. Train them how to soundly read, interpret, and apply God's word so that you're developing in them a taste for this. Think about the foods that you feed your kids. If you never feed your children vegetables, they're never going to develop a taste for vegetables. And vegetables may never be their favorite food, but they will be much more likely to eat vegetables in the future if you consistently feed them vegetables.
Every night growing up, we had a vegetable with our meal and then we ended the meal with salad. And to this day, I still have vegetables every day and I have salad every day because it's just this routine that my parents trained me in. And the same thing is true with God's word. Our children may never jump up and down out of excitement out of reading God's word, but we want to get them in the habit of reading it every day so that they do start to develop an appetite for it. So train them to read God's word. Spend time in God's word as a family daily, whether it's in the morning or in the evening. Just spend time in God's word together. So first thing, develop relationships. Second thing, immerse them in God's word.
Third thing, be active in the local body of Christ. Your children are not going to see the truth and the goodness and the beauty of the gospel if they don't see it lived out in your family in the local body of Christ. Your family is not a lone ranger Christian family. Yes, your family is a very important unit that God has given you for your benefit, for the benefit of society, but you are not to do life in isolation from others in the body of Christ.
So start practicing biblical hospitality. I did a webinar with Rosaria Butterfield several months ago on raising our kids in a home with biblical hospitality. Go check that out just to think through how can you open up your home so that your church family actually becomes your family. So those are people that you have intimate relationships with who know you, who know your children, who are able to call you out in sin when they see it in your life, and you can do the same thing, that you can love and encourage and support one another.
Serve in your local body. Don't just drop your kids off at kids' ministry. Actually have them serving in the local body, whether it's during a church service, whether it's just going out in the community and making meals for people in your church body, mowing their lawn. As a family, regularly pray for your church. Pray for your pastors and your elders. Pray for the other members of your church that they would know and love and trust Jesus even more. Pray for other needs that you know as they arise.
Discuss the sermon with your children. Your children are almost never too young to discuss the sermon with you. At the church that I attend, once kids are five there's no more nursery for them and they're in the service. And I know a friend of mine, she always has her five-year-old say, "I want you to be able to tell me one thing that you hear Pastor Kevin say by the end of the sermon." Does her child understand the entire sermon? No. Sometimes sermons in our church are long. Sometimes they're 40 or 50 minutes long. So her son doesn't understand all of that, but he's able to at least tell her one thing by the end of the sermon.
Then the fourth thing that I would encourage you to do is just equip your kids to think well, because Christianity should be, because biblically it is, a thinking religion. It's a religion that's based on the evidence found on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And so we want to equip our kids to think well. So ask them good questions, and in doing that, train them to ask good questions. Ask them good questions. "Hmm, that thing that we just heard that person say, is that true? How do we know that? What do you think about that? Have you ever heard that before?" Train them to ask good questions.
Then train them to think logically. Teach them the rules for careful thinking, the laws of logic. Teach them logical fallacies and how to recognize them. Then practice evaluating ideas in your home. If you're not sure how to do this, I have two webinars just on equipping our kids to navigate false ideas. And then we have an entire Foundation Worldview Curriculum, our Careful Thinking Curriculum, which teaches kids to systematically break down and evaluate ideas. And then have deep conversations about ideas with others. Ask your neighbors deep questions about what they believe and what they think. Just model these things for your kids.
So those are just four things that I think are really important in discipleship, building relationship with our kids, immersing them in scripture, being active in the body of Christ, and then equipping them to think well. I know that parenting can be overwhelming and it can be a really scary task, but if we're making sure that we're fearing God above all else, we're laying this before him and we're being intentional in discipling our children, we know that we can trust God with the results.
That's a wrap for this episode on the Foundation Worldview Podcast. As always, as we go forth from our time here, my prayer is that God would richly bless you as you continue to intentionally disciple the children that he's placed in your care. I'll see you next time.
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