“Let the man of the true God . . . instruct us about what we should do with the child who will be born.”
SONGS: 88, 120
1. What did Manoah do when he heard he was going to be a father?
MANOAH and his wife were sure that they could never have children. Then one day, Jehovah’s angel told Manoah’s wife that she would have a son. What a wonderful surprise! When she told Manoah the news, he was very excited. But he also thought seriously about what Jehovah expected of him as a father. How could he and his wife train their son to love Jehovah and serve him when so many people in Israel were doing bad things? Manoah begged Jehovah to send his angel again and said: “Please let the man of the true God whom you just sent come again to instruct us about what we should do with the child who will be born.”
2. What do you need to teach your children, and how can you do that? (See also the box “Your Most Important Bible Students.”)
2 If you are a parent, you probably understand how Manoah felt. You too have the responsibility to help your children to know and love Jehovah. (Proverbs 1:8) During family worship, you can help them to keep learning about Jehovah and the Bible. Of course, you need to do more than study the Bible with your children every week. (Read Deuteronomy 6:6-9.) What else will help you to train them to love and serve Jehovah? In this article, we will discuss Jesus’ example. Although he was not a father, you can learn from the way he taught and trained his disciples. Jesus loved them and was humble. And he had insight, that is, he understood how they really felt and knew how to help them. Let us now see how we can imitate Jesus.
LOVE YOUR CHILDREN
3. How did Jesus’ disciples know that he loved them?
3 Jesus often told his disciples that he loved them. (Read John 15:9.) He also spent a lot of time with them. (Mark 6:31, 32; John 2:2; 21:12, 13) Jesus was not just their teacher; he was their friend. So there was no doubt in their minds that he loved them. What can you learn from Jesus?
4. How can you show your children that you love them? (See opening picture.)
4 Tell your children that you love them, and show them how important they are to you. (Proverbs 4:3; Titus 2:4) Samuel, who lives in Australia, says: “When I was very young, Dad used to read My Book of Bible Stories to me every evening. He would answer my questions, hug me, and kiss me good-night. What a surprise when I later discovered that Dad was not raised in a family where hugs and kisses were common! Yet, he made a real effort to express his love for me. As a result, I developed a strong bond with him, and I felt contented and secure.” Help your children to feel that way by often saying to them “I love you.” Hug and kiss them. Spend time talking with them, eating with them, and playing with them.
5, 6. (a) Because Jesus loved his disciples, what did he do? (b) How should you discipline your children?
5 Jesus said: “All those for whom I have affection, I reprove and discipline.” * (See footnote.) (Revelation 3:19) For example, his disciples argued many times about who was the greatest among them. Jesus did not ignore this problem. Instead, he patiently counseled them again and again. But he was always kind, and he waited for the right time and place to correct them.
Choose the right time and place to discipline your children, and do so in a kind way
6 Because you love your children, you know that you must discipline them. Sometimes it is enough to explain to them why something is right or wrong. But what if they still do not obey? (Proverbs 22:15) Learn from Jesus. Patiently continue to discipline them by guiding, training, and correcting them. Choose the right time and place to discipline them, and do so in a kind way. A sister in South Africa named Elaine remembers the way her parents disciplined her. They always explained what they expected of her. If they told her that she would be punished for disobeying, then that is what they would do. But she says: “They never disciplined me in anger or without explaining why I was being disciplined.” Because of this, she always knew that her parents loved her.
7, 8. (a) What did Jesus’ disciples learn from his prayers? (b) How can your prayers teach your children to rely on God?
7 When Jesus was about to be arrested and killed, he begged his Father: “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you; remove this cup from me. Yet, not what I want, but what you want.” * (See footnote.) (Mark 14:36) Imagine how Jesus’ disciples felt when they heard, or later learned about, his prayer. They realized that even though he was perfect, he still asked his Father for help. So they learned that they too should be humble and rely on Jehovah.
When your children hear you ask Jehovah to help you, they learn to rely on Jehovah too
8 Your children can learn much from your prayers. Of course, you do not pray only to teach your children. But when they hear you pray, they can learn to rely on Jehovah. In your prayers, do not just ask Jehovah to help your children, but ask him to help you too. Ana, who lives in Brazil, says: “When there were problems, such as when my grandparents were ill, my parents would ask Jehovah to give them the strength to cope with the situation and the wisdom to make good decisions. Even when under terrible pressure, they left their problems in Jehovah’s hands. As a result, I learned to rely on Jehovah.” When your children hear you ask Jehovah to give you the courage to witness to a neighbor or to ask your employer for time off for a convention, they realize that you rely on Jehovah for help, and they learn to do the same.
9. (a) How did Jesus teach his disciples to be humble and unselfish? (b) If you are humble and unselfish, what will your children learn?
9 Jesus told his disciples to be humble and unselfish, and he also set the example. (Read Luke 22:27.) His apostles saw that he made sacrifices to serve Jehovah and help others, and they learned to do the same. You too can teach your children by your example. Debbie, who has two children, says: “I never felt jealous because of the time my husband spent with others as an elder. I knew that whenever our family needed my husband’s attention, he would give it to us.” (1 Timothy 3:4, 5) How did the example of Debbie and her husband, Pranas, affect their family? He says that his children were always willing to help at assemblies. They were happy, made good friends, and wanted to be with their brothers and sisters. All in the family now serve Jehovah in the full-time ministry. If you are humble and unselfish, you teach your children to be willing to help others.
10. How did Jesus use insight when some people in Galilee came looking for him?
10 Jesus had perfect insight. He did not focus just on what people did but on why they did it. He could read their hearts. For example, one time some people in Galilee came looking for him. (John 6:22-24) He realized that the main reason they were there was, not because they wanted to listen to him teach, but because they wanted food. (John 2:25) Jesus knew how they really felt. Then he patiently corrected them and explained to them what changes they needed to make.
11. (a) How can you try to understand how your children feel about preaching? (b) How can you help your children enjoy the ministry?
11 Although you cannot read hearts, you too can have insight. For example, you can try to understand how your children feel about the ministry. You might ask yourself, ‘Could it be that they only look forward to the time in the ministry when we might stop to rest and eat or drink something?’ If you realize that your children do not enjoy the ministry very much, try to make it more interesting for them. Give them small tasks they can do so that they feel useful.
12. (a) What did Jesus warn his disciples about? (b) Why did Jesus’ disciples really need his warning?
12 How else did Jesus use insight? He knew that one mistake can lead to another and even to serious sin, and he warned his disciples about this. For example, the disciples knew that sexual immorality was wrong. But Jesus warned them about what could lead to immorality. He said: “Everyone who keeps on looking at a woman so as to have a passion for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If, now, your right eye is making you stumble, tear it out and throw it away from you.” (Matthew 5:27-29) Jesus’ disciples lived among immoral Roman people who liked to watch plays full of sex scenes and dirty language. So Jesus lovingly warned his disciples to avoid anything that would make it difficult for them to do what was right.
13, 14. How can you help your children avoid immoral entertainment?
13 As a parent, you can use insight to protect your children from doing something that does not please Jehovah. Sadly, today even little children are in danger of seeing pornography and other immoral material. Of course, you should tell your children that it is wrong to look at immoral things. But there is more you can do to protect them. Ask yourself: ‘Do my children know why pornography is so dangerous? What could make them want to look at these pictures? Do I make it easy for them to talk to me about anything, so that they will ask me for help even if they are tempted to look at pornography?’ Even when children are very young, you could say to them: “If you ever see something on the Internet that makes you curious about sex and you want to look at it, please come and talk to me. Don’t be scared or too shy to ask me for help. I want to help you.”
14 When you are choosing entertainment for yourself, also think carefully about how you can be a good example for your children. Pranas, mentioned earlier, says: “You can say a lot about a lot of things, but your children will watch what you do and imitate you.” If you are always careful to choose music, books, and movies that are clean entertainment, you can help your children to do the same.
JEHOVAH WILL HELP YOU
15, 16. (a) Why can you be sure that Jehovah will help you to train your children? (b) What will we discuss in the next article?
15 What happened when Manoah asked Jehovah to help him be a good parent? “The true God listened to Manoah.” (Judges 13:9) Parents, Jehovah will listen to your prayers too. He will help you to train your children. And he will help you to express your love, to be humble, and to have insight.
16 Just as Jehovah will help you to train your children when they are still young, he can help you to train them when they become teenagers. In the next article, we will discuss how Jesus’ example of love, humility, and insight can help you train your teenager to serve Jehovah.
^ par. 5 The Bible teaches that discipline means guidance, training, correction, and sometimes even punishment. Parents should give discipline in a kind way and never when they are angry.
^ par. 7 In Jesus’ time, children called their father Abba. This word was both loving and respectful.