4) They need you to stop protecting them.
The world is broken. No argument from me there. It seems as though our world is more sinful than ever.
But I wonder what the response would be if the same microscope were placed on cities like Ephesus and Corinth? During the time of Paul, Ephesus was overtaken by witchcraft. Every spring, roughly 1,000,000 people traveled to the temple of Artemis, which was filled with prostitutes. Let’s just say these people weren’t going to the temple to talk about the weather.
To top it off, Ephesus hosted the Festival of Dionysus, a keg party that would have laughed in the face of any St. Paddy’s Day party you have thrown (not that you would do that sort of thing).
So, how does Paul instruct the Ephesians to respond in the midst of a culture blanketed with sin? He tells them to put on the armor of God (Eph. 6:10-20). In other words, jump in the fight. Paul didn’t understand a theology of retreat. There is no such thing. He expected the Christians in Ephesus to engage the culture, not run from it.
When the ultimate goal is to make sure our children never experience the evils of the world, we not only do them an injustice socially, we rob them of seeing the gospel’s transformative power.
As a parent, your goal should not be to teach your kids how to flee from evil. Your goal should be to show them how to engage it. For the glory of God. In those spaces, they will see the gospel. And it will become real.
5) They need to see God as more than rules and church attendance.
Every decision, every thought and every action comes down to this: In whom do I place my trust? Kara Powell
Looking back on my childhood, this was the most important factor in my faith as I transitioned into college. I needed to see that my parents trusted the promises of God. I needed to see that my parents made decisions as though God was real and alive, not a set of rules or a list of “do’s and don’ts.” I got that from my mom. Not so much from my dad.
And until God surrounded me with men who modeled an unwavering trust in Him, I thought following Jesus was just a piece of the puzzle.
Parents, especially fathers, never underestimate the impact of your decisions on your children. They need to see you trust God with your time and money. They need to see you approach your job as a mission field. They need to see you love people well. All people. They need to see you trust the promises of God in Scripture.
If you boil Christian living down to church attendance and morality, your children will notice. And who wants to follow a God who is nothing more than rules and showing up to a building? I sure don’t.
6) They need to see your struggles and doubts.
You need to be strong for your children. They need to see that you have it together. I understand that. But let’s get real for a second. God is mysterious. Faith is not easy. Some questions about God don’t have easy answers. You have probably experienced days where you considered throwing in the towel.
Join the party. I want you to meet some people. These are the apostles. Yeah, the ones who walked with Jesus and started the church. Yes, they are at the “I have doubted my faith at some point” party.
Parents, your kids have doubts. And they need to see that you have doubts as well. Otherwise, when questions about God come, your kids will either internalize them or turn to another source for answers. Both are bad options.
I am not telling you to have confession hour every night. But there is power in vulnerability and authenticity. Your kids need to know you are human. And they need to know the path to intimacy with God involves seasons of doubt and struggle.
7) They need you to plead for God to build and sustain their faith.
Parents, in the journey to lay a foundation of faith for your children, nothing is more important than prayer. Pray for your children. Pray with your children. Every day.
The best part of my day is when my boys lay in bed and ask Tiffani and I to pray for them. I also know a day will probably come when they won’t ask us to pray for them. Instead, we will have to fight through the tension and pray for them even though they don’t necessarily want us to. But we are committed to praying for them every night.
I am eternally grateful for my mom. She is awesome! And I am convinced that my faith is a product of her relentless devotion to prayer. I think my mom prayed so much eventually God got tired of hearing her ask for transformation in my life. So, after years of hearing thousands of versions of the same prayer, he called me back home. And I haven’t looked back since.
Even if your child is a long way from God, He is only one prayer from them.
Never stop praying for your kids. Don’t allow their current circumstances to impact God’s power. Even if your child is light years from God, God is only a prayer away from them. One prayer can change everything.
Parents, you are painting a portrait of God for your children. What does the picture look like?
It is never too late to start investing in the faith of your children. God doesn’t operate like money. The outcome of your kids’ faith isn’t necessarily determined by the time you put in. God isn’t confined to such things.
It is also never too early to get started. Set the trajectory of faith for your children now.
The church plays a role in the faith of your children. But the primary responsibility is yours, parents. You got this. God would never give you a task and not equip you for it. Your children don’t need the funniest, most knowledgeable or best communicator to build their faith. They need you.
So, give them what they need.
In your experience, what do youth need from their parents to build a faith that lasts? Leave a comment below and let’s continue the conversation.
I love you all. To God be the glory forever. Amen!