Raising Faith Filled Kids
By Melanie Spence
One Sunday morning an excited toddler bounced through the church doors three steps ahead of his parents while his reluctant teenage brother lagged behind. The mother turned toward her older son and searched his face. Ten years earlier he was the one who had raced up the stairs. What caused that teen’s excitement to turn to apathy?
Her question is a common one. Is there anything we, as parents, can do to keep the enthusiasm toward faith and ministry alive in our children? As I sat at the kitchen table eating lunch with my grandchildren, the solution became clear. When I took a bite of sandwich, so did they. When I took a drink, so did they. It was so obvious! Our children and grandchildren imitate us. As unsettling as that realization may be, it can also be a valuable teaching tool.
The Apostle Paul knew the importance of being an example. He told the believers at Corinth to follow his example because he followed the example of Christ (1 Cor. 11:1). This also applies to us as parents. As we follow biblical principles, our children will see us as their example.
Here are a few biblical principles to keep our children turned on to growing spiritually:
“Do everything without complaining or arguing” (Phil. 2:14). How do we speak about our faith and church responsibilities? Do we give the impression that our duties are an opportunity to serve God or a burden to bear? Our children need to observe a positive attitude toward God and ministry. This doesn’t mean that they can’t see our frustrations, but through these difficulties we need to show them that our confidence rests in God’s ability to handle each situation. Our children need to hear our positive prayers as we search for a solution.
“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deut. 11:18-19). For us to teach our children and be an example, we must spend time with them. They won’t absorb biblical truths through bedtime prayers alone.
Our children need to know that they are more important than our small group Bible study or the church board meeting. This is not to say that we are to neglect those commitments, but there will be times when our children need us to be at their spelling bee, school play, or important track meet. Our presence at those events will show them that, even though ministry is important, they are more important. As our children spend time with us and watch our lives, they will understand that nothing comes before our relationship with Christ.
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe…” (Heb. 12:28). Our motivation to serve must come out of an overflowing heart of gratitude for what God has done for us. If we serve for self-centered reasons, our children will see right through us.
“Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 28:31). Even though Paul was on house arrest, he didn’t allow his passion for spreading the gospel to languish. He had been beaten, stoned, and shipwrecked (2 Cor. 11:25); yet, his fervor to serve Christ remained. No matter what we face in life and ministry, we need passion and excitement in our relationship with Christ.
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Col. 3:17). So easily our lives can become compartmentalized. We go to work and fulfill those responsibilities; we come home and take on the role of parent; we go to church and act spiritual. If we’re enthusiastic and committed, our words and actions won’t change when we exit the church doors.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thess. 5:11). When we are in the trenches of ministry—serving on the church board or teaching Sunday school—we tend to focus more on the negative aspects of our fellow workers than on their positive traits. When we concentrate on others’ shortcomings, it is easy to vent our frustrations. When that happens, our children may ask if Christian service is worth the trouble.
“It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night” (Ps. 92:1-2). Our commitment to Christ requires a daily interaction through prayer and Bible study. We should allow our children to see us in prayer. Our worn Bibles can be a testimony of our constant dependence on the Lord.
Even though our actions at home and at church are consistent, we have no guarantee that our children will enter the church doors enthusiastically. However, our children are watching us, and we will have a major influence on their lives.