Parents everywhere want their children to be successful. But God's idea of success is far different from the world's concept of it.  If you build a foundation of faith in your children's lives, they can achieve success of eternal significance.

Here are some ways you can give your children the right foundation:

  • Ask God to give you a vision of who He wants your children to become.  Then work with God to fulfill it.  Create a parenting mission statement based on the vision God gives you.
  • Accept the primary responsibility for teaching your children about God.  Don't rely on others to tackle this important task that God has given to you.  Work with Sunday School teachers and others, but make sure you're leading your children's spiritual training, investing lots of time and energy into it.
  • Evaluate the spiritual environment of your home.  Honestly consider how your current home life will help your children grow in love, obedience, and faith.  Identify changes you need to make, then implement them.
  • Evaluate yourself as a model and teacher.  Consider how effective you are right now in these roles, looking at such areas as your personal faith commitment to Christ, your Bible reading, your understanding of biblical principles and the Holy Spirit, your love and reverence for God, your prayer life, your church involvement, and your evangelism.
  • Evaluate your children's spiritual needs.  Think and pray about how closely your children are walking with Christ right now, and what ways their spiritual life needs to be strengthened.
  • Build character in your children.  Teach your children how to respond rightly to life's challenges by teaching them the Scriptures, implementing a consistent system of discipline and rewards, modeling the right way to live, and setting strong rules and boundaries while also enjoying a warm, loving relationship with them.
  • Evaluate your own character.  Consider how you rate with qualities that include honesty, patience, faithfulness, respectfulness, courage, humility, kindness, generosity, peacefulness, and hopefulness.  Ask God to help you grow in areas where you currently fall short.
  • Evaluate your children's character needs.  Use the same qualities to rate your children.  Identify areas you want to see strengthened.
  • Train your children to love others.  Develop and maintain close relationships with family and friends so your children can see what meaningful, loving relationships look like.  Reflect on how well you, your spouse, and your children currently interact with others.  Consider such areas as showing respect for others, showing love for others, listening, speaking the truth in love, forgiving, regarding others' needs as more important than your own, and praising others.
  • Impart a sense of purpose to your children.  Understand that God has designed your children to be released, not retained.  Help your children understand that the best thing they can ever do is reach out to people with Christ's love.  Encourage your children to begin serving others in tangible ways, meeting needs you learn about among people you know.
  • Do creative activities together to illustrate spiritual principles.  For example, dump the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle out, and ask your children to put it together without getting to see a picture of what it should look like when completed.  Then, after they give up in frustration, explain how the Bible can guide them as they try to put the pieces of life together.
  • Share faith stories.  Tell your children how you came to faith in Christ and how He has changed your life.  Read about people in the Bible or the news who have acted with great courage to obey God in the midst of trying circumstances.
  • Keep a family prayer journal.  Using a notebook, write down your family's prayer requests on a regular basis.  After God answers your prayers, record how He did so.  Rejoice over requests that were granted, and discuss the importance of trusting God's wisdom when He chooses to answer prayers in different ways from what you had requested.

Adapted from Raising Children of Faith, copyright © 2003 by Dennis and Barbara Rainey. Published by Family Life and Group Publishing, Inc.

Dennis Rainey is the executive director of FamilyLife, host of the nationally syndicated daily radio program, "FamilyLife Today," and a best-selling author. Barbara Rainey has spoken at FamilyLife conferences across the United States and overseas.  She is the co-author with Dennis of such books as Moments Together for Couples, Parenting Today's Adolescent, and Two Hearts are Better than One.