When You Want Your Kids to Change

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“Lord, I feel that my children don’t listen to a thing I say! What’s the deal here? I need You to change their hearts!”


I sat in my chair grappling with the huge responsibility of raising my family, and felt overwhelmed at just where to turn. I needed some specific direction and intervention of God. 


As I cried out, my eyes fell to a verse in my open Bible. But the help wasn’t quite what I expected.


“And I set myself apart on their behalf, so that they too may be truly set apart” (John 17:19 NET).


Jesus’ words pried open my squinty eyes, and turned me to look inside with poignancy. My answer was there in black and white. For my pleas to have power, I needed to be set apart first.


What a new revelation! I’d been praying passive “go-sic-’em-God” requests. He wanted to discuss me. Yikes.


Now I applied the question to my own heart. Was I willing to be set apart on behalf of my children?


Over the next several weeks, He revealed three truths:


1. A set apart life doesn’t mean merely doing good deeds

for others to follow.


My random acts of kindness didn’t necessarily constitute a holy life. Even being selective in my choices wasn’t what delighted God. It was faith and faith alone that pleases Him (Hebrews 11:6).


My children knew the discrepancy between my “good deeds” and lack of “gut-level faith.” Saying things without doing them only placed me in the category of the Pharisees. Too often I had done just that (Matthew 23:3).


Jesus made it plain that words without follow-through have no authority. The multitudes were amazed at His teaching, not because Jesus was especially passionate, but because “His message was with authority” (Luke 4:32). I could place my children in all the right schools, all the best activities, and all the most influential programs, but they would have little impact if they did not see me actively faithing.


2. You are only set apart when you are connected to the Father.


Being set apart doesn’t mean being alone and isolated. John Henry Thayer says that “The stamp of sacredness passes over from the holiness of God to whatever has connection with God.” Look to the Greek language and you find that the term “set apart” shares synonyms with holiness, consecration, and sanctification. Being set apart is being holy.


It is God Himself that conveys whether or not an individual is set apart. Just as it takes contact between two wires for electricity to pass through them, I must meet with my living God to experience on-going sanctification.


3. The best way to set my children apart is to immerse myself in Truth.


Truth is not just knowing all the best morals. Nineteenth-century commentator Henry Spence-Jones said, “The Word of God is the great instrument in God’s hand for his people’s sanctification.” When my children see me daily and diligently washing in the water of the Word, they will be more likely to jump in His shower of blessings themselves.


Seeing Him is the transformative power. More explosive than words and actions, seeking actively for Him is the key. “We shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2). Because my children are under my spiritual authority, I must be properly aligned underneath His authority for true power to flow to them.


Take the promise from the Master. As you set yourself apart on behalf of your children, you will find that they too are truly set apart.


Now that’s a promise we can cling to!


water of the word


Photography by Sara Jeng Grewar. Follow her on Instagram!