The Game Plan


By John Croyle

Many years ago, a friend came to me asking for advice. His young son was playing a game on his computer. The game was very dark—and obviously very addictive. His son was in a downward spiral with each passing day he was allowed to play on his computer. 

As we sat in my den, he wept tears of regret, pain, guilt, and frustration.  He asked me what to do. My immediate response was, “Unplug the computer.”

He said, “I can’t do that. What will my son think?”

I responded, “That is not the issue right now. Until your son has a godly, built-in filter and the maturity to handle the infusion of this type of evil, you as his dad must remove the source of the evil at all costs.” I asked him, “Do you want to be liked, or do you want to be respected?  You must do your job to protect your son whether he likes it or not!”

But don’t be so quick to judge. Are there outside influences that have been having a direct negative effect on your own child? Naively, you feel like these unwanted influences will eventually go away. Wake up! They won’t simply go away.  As a matter of fact, they will try to gain even more ground in your child’s heart, mind, and soul with each encounter.

“No” is a word that needs to be used when your son or daughter wants to do something that has a proven negative impact on them.

Remember Solomon’s warning in Proverbs 6:26b, “An adulteress hunts for the precious life.” That precious life is your child. An “adulteress” does not necessarily have to be a person—it can be anything evil that Satan is trying to use to infiltrate our children’s hearts and minds.

All the experts in the world combined, with their years of research and numerous degrees, cannot even touch the advice given by the wisest man who has ever lived. Obviously, in Solomon’s day there was no Internet, radio, television, etc. But sexual temptations were there for the young people of his day. Solomon’s counsel is just as relevant today as it was back then.

Solomon, in Proverbs chapter 4, gives us the keys to instruct our children how to live correctly.  Here are seven points that are not only our responsibility, but our quest as parents.

1. Teach your children to listen (verse 1). 

We need to pay attention when our children talk to us, thus building their respect of us when we talk to them. Once I heard a little boy call “dad” five times before the father looked away from the television program he was watching to answer and listen to his son. The seed was planted in the boy’s heart that “the show is more important to my dad than me.” You have to earn the right to be heard.

2. Give sound wisdom (verse 2).

As your child grows up, from preschool to high school, your times of wise correction and being heard will start to become fewer with each passing year. Make the most of each opportunity you have to share wisdom with your child, but remember every talk does not have to be a sermon or lesson. Ask God’s direction (Psalms 32:8) as you acquire wisdom to pass on to your child.

3. Give direction, not ultimatums (verse 11).

When you start on the path of ultimatums you have to fulfill every one you lay down, or I guarantee you will lose your child’s respect. Once respect is gone, you are on a steep uphill battle to reclaim it. Making threats does not build respectful integrity.

4. Instruct your child as they choose their friends (verses 14-17).

Even when they are young, show your child the importance of picking good friends. With your support and guidance, they will hopefully choose good friends as they mature through adolescence into young adulthood.

5. Show them how to watch over their heart (verse 23).

Notice the word “show.” It is imperative you show your children, by your example, how to watch over their heart with all diligence because you have learned “from it flows the springs of life.”  Start praying with your child every night no matter what their age. Place your hand on your child’s heart and ask God to protect them from all evil so the “springs of life” will not be polluted with garbage (bad Internet, television or friends).

6.Teach them to tell the truth (verse 24).

Do it yourself, and they will see it is important. Your example will outlive your advice. When you tell your child you will not come unglued when they tell you the truth, as bad as it may be, then don’t come unglued no matter what. If you do, you may cut off the line of communication. Don’t be guilty of “losing it” when you said you wouldn’t.

7. Teach them to look directly ahead (verses 25-27).

Help your children to set goals—and keep their eyes focused on their goals. Lovingly and firmly direct them when you see they are getting distracted by negative influences. 

Proverbs chapter 4 is THE game plan Solomon gave us—it is now time to put the plan into action. As you ask God for wisdom, cling to the mission of protecting your child’s heart from evil.

Let’s do this! Your children are counting on you.

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