Three Tips To Help You Share Your Faith With Your Kids (Christian Parenting Series, Part 1)
When I was a teenager and a new Christian, I realized that raising a child in a Christian home would not guarantee that child would follow Christ. Because of my inexperience in the Christian world, it shocked me to see teenagers at my church who were indifferent or even hostile to Christianity. For me, Christianity was exciting and wonderful; I was at the beginning of a great adventure – but they were not engaged enough with their faith to discuss it with me.
So when I had children of my own, I felt fearful about their faith. I remember asking God to close my womb if my children would not follow him, and I meant it. When he allowed me to have children, I took that as a solemn honor and privilege—and I didn’t want to mess it up.
Deuteronomy 6 tells us to impress God’s commandments on our children. We are to talk about them when we sit at home, walk along the road, lie down, and get up. Clearly, God made it a parent’s job to show their children how to follow him. The challenge we face is that we can’t just teach our children the facts about God, but we should help them have a passion and love for God and understand what it means to follow him. To do that, we must keep three things in mind:
1. Children live what they see, so demonstrate your faith in God to your kids.
The old saying, “do what I say, not what I do”, rarely works. It’s quite the opposite. A child is far more influenced by what we do than what we say.
Also, remember that rules without relationship often drives kids away from the faith rather than to it. But if you have a good relationship with God and with them, they will be much more likely to pay attention to what you say.
So, before we can pass our faith on to our children, we need to examine our own faith. Paul says, “Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example” (Philippians 3:17 NLT). As parents, we need to say the same thing to our children. To think through how you are doing in this area, ponder these questions:
- Do your children regularly observe you reading the Bible, praying, standing for your faith and serving others?
- How do you live out the values in God’s Word to your children in your behavior?
- How do you actively teach your children Christian values? Are these values a priority in your home?
2. Children understand the difference between duty and joy, so be sure to share the joyful and fulfilling aspects of faith with them.
If your faith is entirely an obligation and never a delight, your children will feel the same way about church, Bible reading, prayer, church and service. If they don’t embrace a love for God, they will most likely abandon the duty. Give some thought to these questions:
- Would your children say that you love God? If not, why not?
- Do your children see you sacrifice your money, time and energy for eternal things because you want to, or because you feel you have to?
- How might you begin to express joy over your faith more consistently in their presence? If you don’t have that joy, what needs to change about the way you practice your faith?
Psalm 21:6 (NLT) says, “You have endowed him with eternal blessings and given him the joy of your presence.”
Our enjoyment of being in God’s presence should be obvious to our kids.
3. Children must make their faith their own. Give them opportunities to stand up for their convictions.
If a child never has to stand for their faith, they most likely will have a weak faith. A child who is always on the defense and never on the offense becomes weary and worn down. So, teach your children to be on the offense. Instead of waiting to be “tackled,” teach them to “tackle” their faith with vigor.
Encourage them to share their faith with classmates, to invite friends to church, and to write papers on their faith. Encourage them to get involved in acts of service to those in need and to let the person know they are helping because they love Jesus. Making such stands will teach them quickly that they need to rely on God and be devoted to him to make their faith work. Spend some time thinking about the following:
- How can you give your children the freedom and courage to face their peers?
- How can you prepare them to share their faith in word and deed?
If you feel that you haven’t been living in such a way that your faith is contagious to your children, don’t despair. It’s never too late. Even if your kids are older, they will see the difference in you if you begin to live out your faith more joyously and determinedly. In fact, it may be even more powerful to them, because they will see the difference.
Begin today to make an eternal difference in not only your life but in the lives of those God has entrusted to you.
If you are looking for another resource, JoHannah has written a family devotional called Proverbs for Kids that can help you discuss your faith with your children.
Read an earlier post by JoHannah here.