We live in evil times where children of all ages are exposed to all kinds of vile ideas, dangerous options, and ungodly choices. Parents play a holy role in leading their children to Jesus and teaching them to make wise and God-honoring choices in their everyday lives. While parents are far from perfect they are powerful tools that God uses to shape the next generation. If parents are negligent or distanced in their role, popular culture and peer pressure will steal our children away and hold them hostage for the rest of their lives. In the book of 1 Samuel, we see the circumstances surrounding the birth of the prophet Samuel. His mother Hannah and the High priest Eli played pivotal roles in the upbringing and mentoring of the young boy Samuel. 

Hannah is an example of an unafraid parent who released her precious, much-desired son back to God very early in his life. She, first of all, prayed for him even before he was conceived and then prayerfully dedicated him to the Lord after his birth. We live in a scary time where if not for consistent prayer bubble-wrapping them we could lose our children right before our very eyes. The mother of the 2 great reformers John and Charles Wesley, Susanna Wesley had 19 children. She spent all her life seated amidst them with her apron covering her head praying for each of them - no wonder two of them changed the face of church history. We can pray for every little or big thing that concerns us regarding our children because the Bible says that God cares for us. Converting every worry to prayer can change the atmosphere in our hearts and homes instantaneously. When we pray for our children we find it easier to release them into the hands of God since we realize that they are good and precious gifts given by Him to us in the first place.

Eli is an example of a spiritual parent who although did not do a good job with his own sons, shaped Samuel beautifully. Eli in 1 Samuel 3:9 taught Samuel to listen for the voice of God, a trait which he would need for the rest of his life as a prophet to his people Israel. In the same verse, Eli also taught him how to obey the voice of God and to do his will, another important trait for the future spiritual leader of Israel. John Piper says that “Parents who do not teach their children to obey prepare them for a life out of step with God’s word.” The simple fact of the matter is that if children are not taught to obey their parents they will find it hard to obey God. 

Eli wasn’t the most successful father. He was a lazy parent who didn’t confront his children for their sin such as - womanizing, stealing, greed, and strip them of their priesthood as was required by Mosaic law. It’s sometimes easier to turn a blind eye to our children’s weakness rather than notice and it and correct it as required. Permissive and callous parenting will create monsters of our own making.

In 1 Samuel 2:30, God tells Eli that he will honor those who honor him but will despise those who despise him. It's a powerful command for every parent reading this- if we honor God with our time, talent, wealth, and everything else we can be sure to raise up a generation that honors God in all they do. We live in a time when we are told not to overemphasize God’s holiness and righteousness to children lest it makes them feel intimidated. We are asked instead to emphasize more on God’s love. The problem with this approach is that God will be reshaped to a bite-size commodity- one who the child will grow to use as either a genie who gives them what they ask for or a priest to whom they offer confession now and then. The infinite splendor and majesty of God cannot be diminished to our children since it will diminish the honor due His name. It is also of great importance that parents choose their calling over comfort which means that we pursue our God-given purposes with children in tow without giving excuses and slamming the door on God’s plans for our lives. Obedience is never easy but it is vital to staying on God’s track for our lives and enjoying protection even in the difficult seasons of life. Our children must see us honor God and obey Him consistently so that it becomes like second nature to them. In this day and age, where truth is relative, identity is fluid, and relationships are overrated it is imperative that parents live lives that are pleasing to God and consistently model spiritual disciplines like praying and meditating on the word, since after all, more is caught than taught.