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"And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4).

Nurturing is a kind word, not a harsh word. When we nurture those under our care, we take into account their individual temperaments. We don't compare them with others, because we respect their individuality.

My husband and I handled our younger son differently from the way we handled our older son, because our younger son has a different temperament. Actually, we were a bit more lenient with him, but we taught him the same principles. We just used different methods to do so.

A gardener would tell us that all plants and flowers cannot be treated the same way. Some can handle direct sunlight; others need indirect light. Some require more water than others; still others can endure great temperature changes while others would die if exposed to sudden changes.

I cannot keep plants alive, because I am not educated in how to treat different ones. I treat them all alike by putting them in the ground and hoping it rains enough to keep them alive. Most of them do not survive, because they need more care than that.

Our young people are the same way. We cannot treat them all alike. I am glad I have been a better parent than I was a gardener. Part of the word "nurture" means to cultivate.

"Cultivate" in the Webster's Dictionary is defined in part as to prepare and improve by fertilizing or plowing. I like to think of cultivating and nurturing as meaning "to work with." We must work with people if we are to help them be all they can be.

In nurturing our children who all work in our ministry now, or in nurturing our employees, we have found that we must mix mercy with discipline. Sometimes God will fill our hearts with mercy and cause us to let something go and not deal out punishment.

At other times, He will insist that we deal more harshly even when we do not want to. Whether we want to or not, we must learn to confront when God says to confront and we must learn to cover mistakes when God tells us to.

Move With God's Timing
There have been times when in my flesh, I wanted to make a big deal out of something that made me angry, and God would not give me peace about doing so. At other times, I was not ready to deal with something and God would keep urging me that now was the time.

Part of proper nurturing is learning to move in God's timing with our corrections, not according to the timing we would pick. In my ministry, we have worked with a lot of people who, at times, I would have rather just written off. Now those people are key leaders in our ministry.

Having our children work for us was quite a challenge in the early days. We had to work through and work with a lot of things, but it has all been worth it. One of the greatest blessings of my life is the fact that all of my children are with me in the ministry.

But remember, we had to work with them - nurturing and cultivating them. We had to stick with them through hard times, and they had to resist running off to something that would be easier on their emotions.

Teach young people to press through the hard times, and to follow their hearts and not their emotions. They will always be rewarded in the end.

The Bible tells us to train up our children in the way they should go, in keeping with their individual bent and personality. (See Proverbs 22:6 AMP.) We are not to train them in the way we want them to go, but the way God has ordained for them.

Some parents and leaders try to make teenagers become what they wanted to be and never accomplished, or what they have become. For example, a father who is a doctor may try to make a doctor out of his son who really wants to be a singer. Raising a child this way is not in accordance with Scripture. God loans His children to us to nurture and cultivate according to His will for them, not our will.

I know there are instances when parents and leaders do everything right and the child still turns out sour. All human beings are free to make their own choices, and some seem to make consistently bad choices all their life, no matter what we do. But if we do our part correctly, the child is much more likely to be successful in life than if we do not.

What if you are dealing with teenagers who have not had correct training at home and probably never will? Is it possible for them to turn out all right? Is it possible for them to overcome their bad beginning?

Absolutely! Many key leaders in today's society are people who were abused physically, mentally, emotionally, verbally, and/or sexually. They were rejected, abandoned, ignored, and disciplined improperly, or not at all.

We need to teach them that they can overcome improper childhood training. I was abused sexually by my father for many years. Our home was very dysfunctional. There was violence, alcoholism, and abuse.

The example I saw was very poor - there was no proper nurturing, the father figure was not someone I could respect, and so forth. And yet, through my personal relationship with Jesus Christ, I have grown up and done something worthwhile with my life.

Often people who have had rough beginnings have been forced to learn the principles of hard work and determination to survive. Learning these principles early in life is a benefit to them later on.

What Satan meant for harm, God will work out for good when we trust Him and follow His principles for daily life. (See Romans 8:28.) We need to tell teenagers that they can overcome anything with the help of God.

Copyright © Turning the Hearts of the Fathers
by Ron Luce & Contributing Authors
Excerpt permission granted by Albury Publishing

Author Biography

Joyce Meyer
Web site: Joyce Meyer Ministries
Joyce Meyer is one of the world's leading practical Bible teachers. A New York Times bestselling author, her books have helped millions of people find hope and restoration through Jesus Christ. Through Joyce Meyer Ministries, she teaches on a number of topics with a particular focus on the mind, mouth, moods and attitudes. Her candid communication style allows her to share openly and practically about her experiences so others can apply what she has learned to their lives.

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