Raising Heavenly-Minded Children

Families of faith have a common goal -- to raise heavenly-minded children, but how can we live with Heaven in mind while here on earth, and how do we impart this eternal perspective to our children? How do we go about this without making idols of our children? Here are a few cautions and suggestions that I hope you will find helpful.

Biblical Knowledge is not enough
We want something measurable to gauge our child’s spiritual progress so we teach our children the ‘catechism’, fill their heads with biblical knowledge, and have them memorize scriptures. However, none of this will guarantee a heavenly-minded heart. They are merely outward forms, instruments to help one along the path. If relied upon too heavily, history has revealed that those very tools create puffed up Pharisees or even worse, atheists. While it is important to teach our children Biblical truths, we must realize that materials alone cannot form the Spiritual.

''Being good" is not enough
We also tend to preach to our children about the virtues of being good, but the knowledge of God is distinct from morality. Being good is the natural fruit of the knowledge of God. Therefore, if we focus our efforts on helping our children discover the character of God- his goodness, his kindness, his justice, his compassion, his power and his love, then their hearts will yearn to please him and 'being good' is the natural outflow. It is important to understand that this vital knowledge cannot be found in books alone, but is imparted through others..

Example is the Greatest Influence
So how do we impart this knowledge? We cannot give what we do not have so we must begin with ourselves. If we cannot answer the following questions in the affirmative, then we must seek revelation of the knowledge of God with all our heart. Do we believe Him when He states over and over again that He loves us with an everlasting love? Or is it mental assent? If we truly believe that we have the Perfect Lover who will never leave us and hurt us without a cause, then we will respond in kind. We will long to become more intimately acquainted with Him, to be near Him, to share every secret of our heart with Him and ask for His counsel. We will spend our days and nights thinking of Him. We will yearn to see His face. Our life will revolve around pleasing Him, because we have learned that He is the ultimate benevolent King. Our heart will skip a beat when He speaks our name. (And He DOES speak YOUR name.)

Perfect Love Casts out Fear
We will no longer fear for our loved ones if we are taken before them, knowing that we did our best, and now their Perfect Father, who loves them so much more than we ever could, will finish the task. It’s not that we don’t love our children enough; it’s just that we love Him more. We begin to find that earth’s pleasures leave us unsatisfied and they begin to fade, while heaven’s light seems to glow behind a thinner shroud.

Our Devotion is Enough
If we love Him this much, then we will not be able to stop ourselves from speaking of Him with great feeling to our children throughout the day. We will often recall the good gifts He has blessed us with, we will speak of the wonders He has wrought in creation and His many miracles through the ages. When we fail, we will thank Him for His mercy and forgiveness and then do the same for our little ones when they stumble. We will continually compare Him with the kings of the earth and brag of His surpassing greatness. Our children will see us spontaneously worship with a full heart. We will often speak of heaven with yearning in our eyes, not because of that beautiful mansion we want, but because the King lives there and we will finally see His face and be near Him. We need not be perfect parents, only devoted.

And then, one day…we catch a glimpse of Love’s mist in our own dear children’s eyes.

"Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way.What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination will affect everything.It will decide what will get you out of bed in the mornings, what you will do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything." 
~ Pedro Arrupe