You think you know everything about parenting until you have kids and then you realize you don’t know nearly as much as you thought you did.
Parenting is one of life’s most rewarding…but challenging…roles. And if you’re in children’s ministry, you’re not only pouring into your own kids, but into other people’s kids as well.
And even more importantly, you should be pouring into the parents of the kids in your ministry. Parents hold the most critical components of kids growing up to love Jesus.
Sounds like a lot of responsibility on our part, doesn’t it? How do we help kids grow up to love Jesus? How can we equip parents to lead their kids spiritually?
My two sons are both adults now. In spite of all the mistakes I’ve made along the way, they love Jesus and His church. I don’t have all the answers…but who does? I have, however, seen some commonalities in parents whose kids grow up to love Jesus.
Let me preface this list by saying it does not override a child’s free will. Each person must decide for themselves whether or not they will follow Jesus. God doesn’t have any grandchildren. I know what you’re thinking, “But what about Proverbs 22:6—Train up a child in the way he should go and he will not depart from it.” You can read more about my thoughts on this verse in this post.
All that being said, we can equip parents to create homes that are fertile soil for kids to grow in their faith. Here are 10 keys to raising great kids who love Jesus.
Walk the Talk
You’ve probably heard the saying, “Your kids can’t hear what you are saying, because what you are doing is speaking so loudly.” Isn’t that true? Parents who raise kids that love Jesus don’t live a double life. This doesn’t mean they are perfect, but it does mean they follow Jesus every day of the week. They practice what they preach. They lead by example.
Affirm the Gift
They see the gifts that God has placed in their child and they affirm those gifts. The words “I believe in you” echo in their child’s ears. The move beyond calling their child “out” to calling their child “up” to be all that God intended them to be. Kids who don’t receive affirmation often go looking for it in all the wrong places.
Read the Word
Kids who grow up to love Jesus have parents whose Bibles are worn out…and it’s not from sitting in the hot sun on the car dashboard all week…waiting to be grabbed next Sunday upon arriving at church. It’s from being read each day…in front of the kids and with the kids.
Eat the Meal
Research shows that children who have dinner with their parents are less likely to drink, smoke, do drugs, get pregnant, become depressed or develop eating disorders. They also do better socially and academically…and I believe spiritually. Why? Because a family meal is much more than eating. It’s a time to pray, communicate, connect, mentor and disciple.
Serve the People
When a child sees his or her parents serving others, it makes a huge impact spiritually in the child’s life. Serving is a key component of discipleship and kids who grow up to love Jesus have families that serve. Kids’ faith becomes animated as they watch their parents serve and begin serving themselves. One of the best things parents can do for their kids spiritually is to get them serving others.
Love the Spouse
The best parenting tool is a happy marriage. Solid marriages create solid kids. Parents who love each other have kids who love Jesus.
Pray the Prayers
Prayer is a vital part of kids growing up to love Jesus. Kids who grow up to love Jesus have parents who pray for them. Here’s an example of a prayer calendar we created for parents.
Set the Boundaries
Children who stray the most are kids whose parents didn’t set reasonable rules and boundaries. Parents who are consistent in enforcing set rules and boundaries actually end up becoming very close to their children. Of course, this doesn’t mean over-doing rules or having rules without relationship.
Monitor the Friends
Peers are a huge part of whether or not kids grow up to love Jesus. You become like the people you spend the most time with. Parents whose kids grow up to love Jesus know who their kids are friends with and make sure they have good influences around them.
Cultivate the Gratitude
A sense of entitlement is the opposite of the heart of Jesus. Parents whose kids grow up to follow Him help their kids cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Thanksgiving is not just a day of the year to eat turkey and watch football in their home…it’s a way of life.
The floor is yours. What are some other keys to raising great kids who love Jesus? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.