Raising Kids in the Faith
As I launched my new Radical Mentoring Group last week, I heard it again . . .
“I want to raise good kids . . . kids that will believe in Jesus and follow Him.”
There is no known formula. There’s no specific set of “do this” or “don’t do that” to ensure Christ-following kids. But here are three ideas for you:
- Talk about God . . . a lot – Think about it. If you had an old dead Grandpa somewhere in your past, but you never talked about him at home or around your kids, how would your children ever know he existed? Or what difference would he make to them? If God makes no difference to you in your daily life and rarely comes up in your conversations, how can you possibly expect your kids to even believe He exists, much less trust Him with their lives and decide to live like Him? Too many of us confuse having a personal faith with a private one. Yes, it IS personal, but why would we want to keep our faith a near-secret from our kids? Isn’t the main thing that keeps us from going public is what other people think? Go public, especially at home. Ifyour faith is real and expressed, your kids are far more likely to engage with Jesus. If it’s not or you don’t, they’ll begin their faith journey in the deep woods. When they “wander off the farm” in college (like most of us did) they won’t have anything to come back to. You’ll regret your “private faith” for the rest of your life.
- Pray out loud . . . a lot – Invite your kids to “listen in” while you talk to God. Asking them to pray, especially at younger ages, may scare and frustrate them. Remember how it felt when you heard your dad (or mom) saying good things about you to someone important? Imagine how it would feel for a child to hear his daddy and mommy pray for them. First person. Real time. Real stuff. Gratitude-laced. “Non-churchy” prayer. Oh and by the way, you’re calling the attention of the Creator God to your kid. That’s huge. And they get to listen in while you do it!
- Let them see you in personal study, prayer and worship . . . a lot – Very few of the men I mentor have “hero stories” of their dads. But last year, one of my guys described waking up early and peeking downstairs to see his dad studying his Bible or on his knees in prayer. On his knees. He described how sometimes he’d go down as soon as his dad left and put his face into the still-warm imprint of his dad’s face on the sofa. He could feel the presence of his dad, but he could also feel the presence of his Heavenly Dad, Abba, then and there. Don’t you want to be “that Dad”?
I’m not suggesting you do this for show; I’m suggesting you do it for real. For yourself and for your kids. You can’t export what you don’t have, so stepping into a deeper, more committed relationship with God is crucial. But with that relationship in place, there may be nothing more vital to your kids’ spiritual development than intentionally letting them in on what you’re doing with and saying to God.
Prayer – Lord, please wake up men who read this to their need to “go public” with their faith, especially in front of their kids. Give them courage to start and the discipline to stay with it. Father, let them know You’re counting on them to do their part and that the faith-life of their children may depend on their obedience. In Jesus name, Amen.