My parents were the single-most important factor in leading me to pursue a relationship with Jesus Christ. Without applying any pressure, their examples of godly living and genuine transformation made me want to know more about God, read the Bible, attend church, and eventually ask Jesus Christ to be the Lord of my life. Since I have not had the experience of raising children, I asked Karen Wolff, of Christian-Books-for-Women.com to write this article with me. Karen is the mother of two grown children. We offer this guide as a simple, practical starting place for learning how to pass on your faith to your children.
Passing on Your Faith to Your Children
Where is that instruction manual on raising kids? You know, the one the hospital gives you just before you leave with your new baby?
What do you mean, there isn't one? Raising a child is such an important, seriously sobering task, it should at least come with a manual, don't you think?
What do you suppose this instruction manual would look like? Can't you just see it? It would contain some great categories like, "How to Stop the Whining," and "How to Get Your Kids to Listen When You Talk."
Christian parents face just as many obstacles as non-Christians in raising kids. When you add all the distractions and the pressures in today's world, Christian parenting becomes even more than a challenge.
A huge part of that challenge is passing on your faith to kids whose priorities are more focused on video games, sporting events, and the latest trends in clothes. And let's not forget to mention peer pressure and media pressure that offers temptations to kids to do drugs, drink alcohol and get involved sexually. Today's kids face an overall absence of godly examples and moral living in a society that is moving toward "freedom from religion" instead of "freedom of religion."
But the good news is that there are things you can do to raise godly kids and even share your faith with them along the way.
Living Your Faith
First, as a parent you must live out your faith in your own life. It is impossible to give away something you don't have. Kids can spot a phony from a mile away. They're looking for the real deal from their parents.
Living your faith can start with simple things, like showing love, kindness, and generosity. If your kids see you finding ways to "be a blessing," it will become a natural and normal way of life for them too.
Sharing Your Faith
Second, start sharing your faith early in the lives of your kids. Being a part of an active Christian church shows your kids that you think spending time with God is important. Make it a point to let them hear you talk about the great things happening in the church. Let them hear how much you've been helped by being in the midst of people with similar beliefs who pray for you and you for them.
Sharing your faith also means reading the Bible with your children in a way that causes it to come alive for them. Find age appropriate Bible resources and lessons to incorporate into your family-fun times, as well as your child's education. Make family devotions and Bible reading a priority in your weekly schedule.
Also, incorporate Christian entertainment, videos, books, games and movies into your child's life. Instead of feeling deprived of fun, let them discover and enjoy quality and inspiring forms of amusement that will also encourage them to develop spiritually.
Another great way to share your faith with your children is to allow them the opportunity to make and develop Christian friendships. Their faith will be strengthened if they can share the same values with their friends. Make sure your church offers a children's program and youth group that your kids will want to be involved in.
What's in it For Them?
Lastly, show your kids what's in it for them. This is probably one of the most difficult things for many Christian parents. Often people are brought up to believe that faith is some kind of obligation you fulfill by attending church on Sunday. And let's face it, kids today aren't interested in obligations unless there is some kind of pay out at the end.
Here are some great pay outs:
- When you give your life to Christ, you secure your place in heaven. What kid do you know that doesn't want something they don't have to earn, but rather is given to them as a gift?
- When God enters your life, you receive unconditional love. What a concept for a young person! Someone who will love and accept them as they are with no strings attached.
- Being a Christian means experiencing freedom. As you develop your relationship with Christ, you can be free from worry and anxiety, addictions, and so many other problems that seem to plague young people. When you do things God's way, you receive the benefits of that relationship.
- Having God's favor on your life is like unwrapping a gift every single day. God's favor is an amazing blessing that makes people want to be good to you for no apparent reason. What young person wouldn't want God's blessings in their life?
Of course, it wouldn't be fair to tell your kids about the pay outs and not tell them about the responsibilities that come with Christian living. Here are some of those:
- Putting God first. This means making the commitment to seek God. This isn't an easy concept for kids. There's a lot of competition for first place in the life of a young person. But parents can help kids understand that God wants them to be happy and successful even more than they do. What a great thing for a young person to hear!
- Finding ways to be a blessing. Many kids are very self centered. The concept of "being a blessing" means taking the focus off them and onto someone else. This is best learned if they can see you living it. Include them in the process when you can. You'll be amazed at how good your kids will feel about themselves.
- Acting right on purpose. This means treating people with kindness, respect, and patience, even those that are hard to love. Even parents, brothers and sisters. Right behavior is Christianity in action.
Sharing your faith doesn't have to be complicated. Start by living it in your own life so your kids can see it in action. Demonstrate your commitment and the value you place in an ongoing relationship with God by finding ways to be a blessing. Kids learn best by example and modeling your faith is the best example they will ever see.
Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens, Second Edition (Resources for Changing Lives)
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