I had a great question from a mom at an event at which I spoke. She asked:
I would like to know if you can suggest some things I can do with my kids to help them more to lean on GOD and His purpose in their lives?
Such an important question. I know far too many people who felt they had faith crammed down their throats by well-meaning parents. I’ve seen people walk away from God because of overly-zealous and overly-legalistic approaches. But embedded within this precious mom’s question was a great phrase. With my kids. That’s really the key, right? Not ‘to’ them. Not ‘preach’ to them. Not ‘insist’. With. Here are seven ideas for walking out faith with our kids.
1. With My Kids
This to me is the hallmark of equipping our kids to see God working in their lives. We need to walk the faith walk with them. Too often we try to protect our kids from the challenges we are facing in our own lives. We think it would make them feel insecure, would make them feel scared, if they were to know about the times we are struggling and are facing difficulties. But our kids need to see us lean on the Lord when job challenges or financial pressures or relationship hiccups are looming. We don’t have to expose every unedited detail. However, they benefit when they see us lean into the Lord in a deliberate way. Deuteronomy 6:7 gives a great recipe for with.
2. Active Prayer
We can also model going to prayer in the midst of life. I’ve prayed with my kids over skinned knees and hurt feelings and lost Barbies. Small things, but big powerful prayer habits can be the result.
3. Be a Tour Guide
From the time our kids are little bitty through their approach toward adulthood, we can point out the God-moments and God-design evident in our worlds. Everything from the delightful design of a ladybug to the wonders of space to the mysteries of life at the cellular level, we can be the tour guide, navigating our kids through a creation full of incredible exhibits. We have the ability to help ‘train’ the eyes of our kids to look for the fingerprint of God, for His holy signature, across the experiences of our lives, just as Romans 1:20 reveals.
It’s not the Scout troop’s job or the teacher’s or the youth pastor’s. It’s ours, as parents. We have to teach and make priority and live a life of service. Have your family serve as a team at church. Choose a project to work on together for your community or neighborhood. And talk about the ‘why’ of serving.
5. Be Real and Visible
Let’s face it…our kids see the ‘real’ us, the habits and quirks and reality of who we are more than anyone. We can claim a walk of faith to our peers and Bible study pals…but it’s our kids who know if that rings true. Our kids need to ‘catch’ us reading the Word, listening to teaching, singing praise songs while going about chores, being patient even when it’s tough. For our kids, one of the greatest hindrances we create is if we continue to walk in hypocrisy.
6. Keep Resources Available
Just as we keep educational resources around the house, so too can we keep faith books, puzzles, DVDs, music around the house as well. While I’m not a parent who thinks that every single play toy or movie and soundtrack has to be ‘Christian’, I do think that having those options available allows kids to incorporate it as part of their play life, entertainment and home experience.
7. Don’t Force It
I’ve seen it. Maybe you have too. A very well-intentioned parent who pushes, pushes, pushes all things faith and God and Bible and Veggie Tales…and you can see the kids’ eyes glazing over. At the end of the day, our kids will have to make faith decisions of their own. Yep. We can’t make that step for them. We can create a great environment, model a life of faith, teach them Bible songs. Those are great things. But the idea here is to create an echo, just like Isaiah 30:21, that resounds in their hearts long after our time with them tucked into the bosom of our home has come to a close. I want the tenor of my voice in my kids’ hearts to be one of authenticity and love, not of agenda and control. The goal is for my kids to walk their walks of faith, to live boldly with their God.