Raising Children to Live as Overcomers

As a dad of two children I love dearly, I have chosen to live passionately in every aspect of their life. My intention is to extract each moment of enjoyment as I walk in the treasure of raising them.

I realize the spiritual influence I carry as a father, so I refuse to ever relinquish that responsibility over to things that call for my attention, namely work, busy living or outside pressures.

Many parents work hard, but the goals for their children and family are often out of whack. Instead of being focused on what matters, many families look more to:

  • how the family looks to others
  • what financial comfortability can we achieve
  • what marks of performance can we display as a mark of “success.”

What’s up with that?

Getting Real About Our Motives

At the end of the day, our true motives in raising our families will shine through. Too often it seems like we just want kids who act nice and live comfortably. This may seem appealing, but our poor focus may develop generations of entitled, complaining and weak-hearted adults that don’t know how to overcome obstacles in their life.

Over the years, this questions has deeply penetrated my heart and challenged me on how I lead my home. Technology has provided a world with many conveniences. But this must not shroud the fact that everyone has areas in their life where the must learn to beak-through and overcome. The difference will be if we will actually face those issues of our lives and learn to develop an overcomer spirit.

I believe the goal of parenting should be to raise an overcoming adult believer. 

  • Someone who knows how to lead, not just follow.
  • Someone who is willing to stand for what is right, when others don’t seem to care.
  • Someone who will start something and stick with it to the end.

I believe equipping overcomers in the home starts right away. In our home, we deeply desire to raise our family as overcomers, while equipping other families to live with that same relentlessness; ministering breakthrough for generations to come. This vision ought to permeate how we do everything, because in the end, God is looking for those who carry an overcomer’s heart.

I am by no means perfect in this. I have had many years of self-pity patterns to break. Yet there were many people in my life who pushed me to overcome in all things.

I believe the greatest influence for overcoming in a child’s life is their parent. Your heart to overcome in your own journey will be a compass to guide your child’s life.

Here are some key things to remember when raising an overcoming heart in your children:

1. Don’t Try to Be a Good Parent. Be an Authentic Christian.

We have lived with generations that heard lectures from their parents–monologues of what should be happening in the child, when in reality, the parent is not following those precepts in his own life. We must move from a hypocritical model of parenting and keep ourselves accountable to the same areas we are asking our children to grow up in.

In over 20 years of working with parents and families, I have been dumbfounded to watch parents scold their children of sins they themselves have not dealt with. Many times our children are actually manifesting the sins in our generations that have not been overcome in our own lives. Yes you may have left your rebellious teen years, but the sin patterns that festered in those times were never confronted and dealt with. Now we are actually shocked to witness our own kids manifesting the same things.

Understanding your children’s battles in this light helps to see they need your mentoring, more than lecturing. If you remember, you had some junk you had to face in your own life. So remember to bend the knee before God in compassion to help, rather than just lecture.

Instead of just telling your children what you want them to be, why not just BE what you want them to be?

Model for them what it means to walk this walk and overcome. Let them see you praying, going after God and manifesting change. Le them see that you are pursuing character change and development each day. As they notice the fruit of the spirit in your life, they will have a template to reference in their own life.

Instead of just telling your children what you want them to be, why not just BE what you want them to be?

I have also learning that parenting like this cannot be done in performance. When I learned that our son Maximus was diagnosed with autism, I went into high gear to try and help him. I realized very quickly that I cannot help him or raise either of my children in some performance or striving kind of mindset. My best parenting is actually when I come and just bring my full self to relationship, where I can interact with them from my heart and who I am in God really bless them.

2. Whenever You Are With Your Children – Be Present

We have phones, tablets, TV shows and constant distractions surrounding us. Not to mention the various distractions in our own minds. How many times have you noticed you are with your kids but you are not WITH them?

My number one struggle as a parent from the jump was learning to be present in each moment. Coming home from the days labors, I would struggle to land and just be with my family, without mulling over the day’s pressures. A major battle ensues over my ability to just stop and be engaged in the time I have with my family–for I will never get it back.

The top regret I see in most dads is that they did not make the most of their children’s early days. They spent so much time building their career, business, church, ministry or any other pursuit and saw being a “dad,” not as fulfilling. Yet it is one of the most powerful roles I have been given!

Because my heart’s desire is to grow in this, I find myself moving towards a better rhythm. When I am not with them, I make sure I am 100% about what needs to be done. When I am with them, I position my heart to be 100 percent present and engaged. Its one of my greatest gifts to my household.

I promised myself that I would extract every ounce of enjoyment possible with my family. I already have hundreds of special moments locked away in my heart, in photos and on paper–precious memories that no one can take from me. I refuse to look back years from now and wonder why I wasn’t able to enjoy the memories I wasn’t a part of.

So when you are with your children, whether its most of the day, part of the day or even in segments, take it all in and enjoy who they are as a blessing from God.

3. See Your Children Not As They Are, But As God Sees them to Be.

Anytime I have grown immensely, its often through the influence of people who saw things in me that I didn’t always see in myself. God sees us in who we are becoming, so its important that we convey this in how we see our kids. So its important to step back and get a picture of what your child has been destined to in their identity.

This is not a performance thing, but an identity thing. Speak to your kids not as they are, but who you see them to be in God. If your emphasis is always pointing out the behavior you don’t like, you will probably get that bad behavior repeated. If you speak into their higher potential in who they are, eventually they will respond to the greatness you see inside of them.

This starts by getting with God and asking Him what He has placed inside of your children. Get a glimpse of what He sees and interact with your children out that belief in them.

4. Don’t Wait to Teach them how to Practice the Ways of God

As soon as my children knew how to speak, I taught them how to pray. Not just those, “Thank you Jesus for my food” kind of prayers, but prayers to move mountains.

For a while, my foot has been inflamed and in a lot of pain. It took me a while to even find out what was wrong with it. But during that time, Max came over and prayed. He often prays for me now out of his own choice, not because I ask him. I noticed instant change in my foot through his prayer. Max also has a teacher at school that had some pain issues in her feet. In school, Max got on his knees and laid hands on her feet to pray for healing.

I teach my daughter the same thing. She has an incredibly nurturing heart. When someone is hurting, she wants to give them bandaids, boo boo buddies, ice, a drink, pillow and a mountain moving prayer. At 4 years of age, she already knows how to combine relational care and supernatural healing. She knows how to pray the prayer of faith and declaration.

Every day, I seek to affirm the divine qualities in my children. I am not waiting til they are grown, for that will be too late. The Kingdom of God is available to them, now.

5. Walk With them Through Opportunities to Overcome

I am concerned that this generation is raising our children in a bubble where they never experience pain, disappointment or hardship. We always want to help our children experience and break into things we did not always have, but we must also realize there are mountains our kids have to climb themselves.

We have to know when its time to step back and let them push through to overcoming. They need to know we are for them, backing them up and loving them like crazy. But there are many challenges they have to face themselves. Developing the overcoming heart is so critical to this.

My son has struggles in certain classes. Because he is working through some learning issues, it could be easy to just give him a pass on so many things. But we believe in the power of God to meet his overcoming heart. Some nights, I have sat with him for hours to finish a couple math problems.

We would try every way possible to help him learn. We’d then stop and pray to ask the Holy Spirit to help us. Then we’d get back to it. When he sees that I am not quitting, it empowers him to not quit on himself.

Practicing not quitting helps our children from ever knowing how to.

I believe it is a parent’s job to instill an overcoming heart in our children. They must see us overcoming and see our commitment to walking with them through their own personal victories. Teach them start something and stick with it. Empower them to remain committed when others are quitting. These experiences will stay with them and form their ability to live relentlessly.

6. Celebrate the Victories – No Matter How Big or Small

I have observed that most great man and woman of God practice celebrating even the smallest of victories. This week, I had some victory milestones that deeply encouraged my heart. Events which personally showed me the effect of consistently investing into my children’s spirituality can bring.

Max just recently finished first grade and he had his annual field day. One year ago, while in kindergarten, Max could barely function through the school’s field day. He cried the whole time. A teacher had to hold his hand through every single game event. He completely melted down through the whole thing. When he saw my wife and me, he only wanted to be with us and could not comprehend that we were there to cheer him on.

We left that day deflated; crying the whole way home. We were bombard with thoughts of how “stuck” Max will be in life. After a good cry, we gathered ourselves together. We determined to love Max in the place he was at, while hearing from heaven what the next level would require. A year later, when we saw field day on the calendar, we actually didn’t know what to expect, but knew that all the investment of overcoming in Max’s heart would not be for nothing.

What a day it was! Max not only participated in every game, he did not require hand to hand help from a teacher! He saw mom and dad on the sidelines and was able to enjoy his triumph with no meltdowns! What an amazing step of victory from just one year ago!

That’s something to celebrate and I have encouraged my family to celebrate any milestone or step of progress in a positive direction. Too often, we become overwhelmed with discouragement, because we have lost sight of where we’ve come! Celebrating each step of growth, no matter how small, keeps the big picture moving towards hope more effectively.

7. Teach them that life is Not Fair

I could give many more points, but I will stop at this one. Our kids need to know that they may make major investments that don’t work out. They may not get picked for every team. They will have failures, mistakes and disappointments. Things will occur out of their control.

I am concerned that the current generation wants blessing with little sacrifice, pain or patient enduring.

We can’t prevent life from disappointing our children, so stop trying. Instead, teach them to face those events with resilience.

I want my family to know that no matter what happens to them, the one thing they can choose is their attitude. I define attitude as the emotional and spiritual atmosphere you set in your life. We subtly let that temperature get set by our circumstances, subtly training us to live as victims. When you realize that your attitude is a choice, any setback is a place of growth. Any mistake is a place of learning. Any harsh treatment received is an opportunity for character formation. Any disappointment is a place for hope to grow more firm in our hearts.

The greatest thing you can choose is your attitude.

Be encouraged today. Its not too late to pray into your child’s overcoming heart. Whether your child is 4 or 40, invest yourself relationally to draw out the overcomer in them!

Question: In what ways are you teaching your children to live as overcomers?