Parenting is hard work. And, if you’re a believer in Jesus trying to raise your kids to have a heart for Him, it can seem doubly tough sometimes. With that in mind, I want to just offer a quick suggestion.
Genuinely live out your faith in front of your children. Kids have a way of seeing through the nonsense and the charades. They know when something is really important to us. We can tell them to love the Lord with all their hearts (Matthew 22:37), but we’re better off showing them what that looks like. I’ve been reminded anew this week of how easy it is for parents to profess a deep love for Jesus, but never really manage to prioritize their lives around Him. They never seem to have time for worship or service. They never really seem to put feet to their faith or practice to their profession. Everything else is more important. Our kids see that. Our actions tell them what really matters to us.
Now, before you start throwing the “legalism” stone at me, hear me clearly. Our actions do not make us right with God. Only Jesus and His atoning work can accomplish that. I’m not advocating some works-oriented salvation or even some quota of activity. I am, however, trying to say what the Bible says: saving faith works. Once we’ve been grabbed by the love of God, we cannot help but live for Him. The love we profess for Jesus is seen in how we live and what we do. And, that’s what we want to pass on to our kids.
Every now and then I’ll hear some parent say, “Well, none of this matters. None of this guarantees anything.” And, they’re right. There are no guarantees. Plenty of genuine God-loving, Jesus-serving parents have seen their children go in a different direction. But, I counter with this. My doctor cannot guarantee I won’t ever get lung cancer. But the odds are more in my favor if I don’t smoke than if I do. When it comes to parenting, genuinely living for Jesus has better odds than simply talking about it all the time. Parenting is tough enough without the odds being stacked against you. I like the odds found in living for Jesus much better.