They say, “Your parents mess up the first half of your life, and your kids mess up the second half.” I don’t know if that’s true, but it’s funny. At least it was until I remembered I’m a parent.

I preached on parenting the last two weeks. Not that I’m an expert, but God is, and no doubt I have jacked up more than a couple of our four kids. I used to think I did a pretty good job as a dad, but I’m realizing in my old age that I have more than a few regrets. Too bad we don’t get “do-overs” in the parenting department.

Today’s family bothers me, not that they care, but LifeWay research shows that they only attend corporate worship services 1.6 times a month. No wonder the church is in a slump. Judges 17:6 & 21:25 explains the slump, “everyone is doing what is right in their own eyes.”

We all know as parents of little kids that if we spare the rod, we will spoil the child (Proverbs 13:24). And I’m not advocating corporal punishment, but we know some form of discipline is needed within the home or it will get pretty western, pretty fast. My point is it is somewhat easy to direct little kids, but how do we influence our adult children?

I encouraged parents of adult children to pray for their kids. I also shared with them to get out of the shallow water of praying for their kid’s latest emergency and to pray a deeper, more serious prayer. The Apostle Paul captured this idea as he prayed from prison for his spiritual children in Philippi.

We tend to get wrapped up chasing the distractions of life, and the main thing becomes no longer the main thing. I heard about hundreds of whales that died after chasing sardines into shallow water, and when the tide went out, they got stuck. We all get stuck, but are our adult children equipped to get unstuck?

In Philippians 1, starting at verse 9, he prayed that his kids would have greater “love, knowledge and discernment.” This makes total sense right? Rather than pray for their finances, marriage or career, let’s pray for the tools to navigate the waters of life, the waters of finances, marriage and career. The result, Paul writes in verse 10, is that they will know what is “excellent, pure and blameless.”

Finally, he prays in verse 11 that his spiritual children would be “filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God.” As we concern ourselves more with the things in life that really matter (Jesus), we will live a surrendered life that is full of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22 & 23).” Who doesn’t want those things for their kids?

He told me to tell you that.

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Ken Ansell currently serves as a pastor and local minister in small, rural Texas communities. He plays lots of tennis and fly fishes when he can. He can be reached at kenansell1@gmail.com.