When Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem in 605 BC, one of the young men who was taken back to Babylon was Daniel. The captives were soon fully indoctrinated into Babylonian culture and religion. In America today, our public schools are not so different. Every day our children are saturated with secular humanism. In school they are stripped of their spiritual heritage. Though only a teenager, Daniel became one of the finest examples of godly manhood. Through the example of his life, we can gain helpful leverage to counteract today's societal pull and grow strong men of the faith.
Help your son decide his convictions before he faces the choices.
When Daniel was faced with eating from the king's table, he "purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself" (Daniel 1:8). The choice required courage, but it was not difficult, because it was a choice he had already made.
Help your son decide what his convictions are before temptation grabs him. Many parents avoid discussing important issues because they are embarrassed or fear they might stimulate undue interest. Some question whether their pre-teen is mature enough. Ask the Holy Spirit to nudge you when the timing is right. He will! Then guide your son with Scripture toward establishing right convictions on his own.
Teach your son never to underestimate the importance of his choices.
Each choice your child makes is a step into his future—in one direction or the other. Don't let him underestimate the life-changing impact of each one. You can teach him this by discussing biblical examples (read about Joshua and Caleb, Abraham, David, Joseph, and Solomon). Or by offering clear examples from your own life of how one choice affected your future. And while older boys need the freedom to make some choices independently, don't hesitate to step in and help.
Train your son to determine the risk factor in every situation.
The aggressive nature of boys explains, in part, their risk-taking behavior. Unfortunately, analyzing those risks is seldom part of a boy's thought process. And even accidents are not always deterrents. Here's the point: Train your son to understand that most situations involve risk. Determining the risk factor of every situation will help your son avoid trouble and become a man of godly character.
Show your son how to depend upon God every day.
Understanding God's omnipresence will give your son unmatched strength and courage (Joshua 1:9). Train your son to develop a personal quiet time with God. Teach him to be consistent even when he doesn't feel like it. Then, slowly remove yourself from the process over time. Also, model the importance of communicating with God through prayer. Finally, encourage your son to journal some of his own choices along with the outcomes.
Motivate your son to declare his decisions with courage. Not once did Daniel compromise his convictions—but he did remain gracious to those around him—so much so that his captors called him "O Daniel, greatly beloved." Communicate this to your son by role playing potential scenarios involving peer pressure and decision making. Then help him formulate specific responses for saying no to bad situations. The goal should be to remain consistent, while influencing others in a positive way.
Encourage your son to develop friends who will stand with him.
Studies show that with just one person on your side, you are more likely to stand up for your convictions. As a parent, the most important thing you can do is pray about your child's friends. Then, as he chooses friendships, encourage him to look for the kinds of qualities God would admire. Loyalty, integrity, and high moral standards are a few that should make the list.
Finally, the most effective way to raise a courageous son is to BE courageous yourself. We all know what we tell our sons has little impact when we ourselves live timidly for Christ. Being a parent is no easy task, but God is with you. Bow to Him in prayer and ask Him to make you the kind of Christ follower that compels your son to stand up for Christ. If you live your life boldly for God, your son will notice, he will remember, and with God's guidance, he will follow your example.
This article was excerpted from Turning Points, Dr. David Jeremiah's Devotional Magazine. Call Turning Point at 1-800-947-1993 for your complimentary copy of Turning Points.
Original publication date: June 19, 2009