If you are training your young people by hyper-focusing on the externals while neglecting the heart, you are "misapplying your energies," and you won't like the end result. A person who can put on a good public show while covering up a sin-filled private life is like my Grandma Bubbie used to say: "Pretty package; nothing inside."
Obviously, we have to keep externals in line because man can only see the "outward appearance," but we need to give more effort and energy to the part that God can see: the heart. We who are parents will find ourselves in the prime of our Christian lives just in time to witness the slow decline in the lives of our young adults if we’re not more conscientious about matters of the heart.
Many of us know parents who did an exceptionally good job training their children, only to have a child do something disappointing later in life. If you're that parent, you did your best. Don't blame yourself for choices that you didn't make. On the other hand, those of us who "missed a spot" or more in the training process need to accept the fact that some of the things we may not like are side effects from training errors. I am that kind of parent. Still, I am also the kind of parent who is willing to work hard to increase the chances of success while trusting the Lord for the long-term outcome. Temporary setbacks do not have to become permanent lifestyles. When God has the heart, great changes can take place!
If your child is already past the early training stages, make daily Bible reading a house rule. If their feet are still under your dining room table, your rules are still in force. Don't worry that you're "making them do it." No one was ever harmed from daily Bible reading, but many have been destroyed by trying to live without it. It's never too late to start a Bible reading habit.
If you don't like what you're seeing in the spiritual growth and development of your young person, maybe it's time for a change strategy. Expecting a young person to walk with God in this world while repeatedly immersing their minds in the popular media is like expecting an alcoholic to stay sober while living in a bar! Clean out the clutter of media influences, magnify the Lord and His Word in your home, and then watch God go to work from the inside out. God always starts with the heart, because God doesn't "misapply His energies."
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