What Do You Want Most for Your Kids: Pt. 2

“God can’t give us peace and happiness apart from Himself because there is no such thing.”

Last week I mentioned that C. S. Lewis quote in support of an important, biblically grounded point for parents: while there are many good things that we rightly want for our children (a great education, a good job, a family of their own, etc.), the best thing we could ever do for our kids is to introduce them to and consistently encourage their faith in Jesus Christ.

But that brings up another key question: how might this fundamental truth change the way we parent on a day to day basis? Here are a just a few suggestions:

Take responsibility for your kids’ spiritual development.

As parents, you have the greatest share of responsibility for encouraging your kids’ faith. It doesn’t fall to your church, or other family members. It falls to you. For one thing, no one else spends as much time with your kids. And no one else has a greater potential influence on how they view and live their lives. That’s surely one of the reasons why we read this in Deuteronomy 6:6-7: “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (dads, see Eph. 6:4 as well).

But here’s the thing, it’s hard to impress something on your kids if you’re not impressing it on yourself first. In order to make a consistent impact on your kids, you need to be consistently pursuing your own faith in Christ. Yes, it’s an investment that will take time, energy, and other resources. And so we need to remember the goal…in this case not just for our kids, but also for ourselves.

So what are the ways in which you’re regularly seeking to grow in your own faith? And what regular opportunities are taking advantage of to bring your kids up in that same faith? (Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day.)

Make it a priority to get your kids involved in the church and its ministries.

I get it. There are all kinds of things that compete for your time, whether on Sunday mornings or any other time of the week. But again, remember the goal: if our kids greatest good is wrapped up with knowing Jesus, then it will help us to regularly prioritize involvement in a Christ honoring, Bible believing church. It will prevent that involvement suffering the death of a thousand cuts from a virtually limitless list of competing concerns. This isn’t to suggest that going to church regularly, or your kids being involved in an age appropriate ministry of some sort, is some moralistic box we need to check so that God will accept us. Rather, it’s simply to say that the church community (not the building) is the environment in which we so often meet with God’s grace: through his word being taught, worshipping in song, building significant relationships that are mutually encouraging, serving and being served, and so on.

And yes, I realize that I just wrote that we as parents need to take primary responsibility to encourage the faith of our children. But leading them to the church community, and modeling participation in it, is a crucial way in which we carry out that responsibility. If it’s not a priority for us, then it’s highly unlikely it will be for our kids either—particularly when they leave our homes.

View setbacks and challenges as opportunities for learning and growth.

Living as fallen people in a fallen world means our kids will inevitably confront disappointment, failure, and other challenges. But if we remember the goal we’ll look to take advantage of the grace such things often bring.

Maybe your ten –year-old will be sad because other kids in his class make fun of him. Maybe your sophomore in high school won’t make the honor society, the basketball team, or first chair clarinet. Maybe your senior won’t get into her first choice of college. Maybe the girl you all hoped your son was going to marry breaks up with him. These are situations in which it will often be wise to “weep with those who weep.” But when the time is right, they may also be opportunities to remind our kids (and ourselves) of where—or in whom—we will ultimately find hope and happiness.

I don’t write these words lightly, because adversity of many kinds can be extremely painful. But God often uses these difficulties to convene the school in which we learn the most.

View achievements and triumphs as opportunities for learning and growth. 

Life is often full of positive experiences as well. Our kids will demonstrate an astonishing array of gifts and resources, through which they will accomplish many significant things, both big and small. And when they do, we’ll want to celebrate with them.

But if we remember the goal, we’ll attempt to guard against our kids seeing their Little League record, ACT score, soccer scholarship, or acceptance to law school as the defining characteristics of their lives. Along with their achievements, we’ll celebrate their growth in humility and other character traits that will encourage their faith. And we’ll teach them to see their talents and accomplishments as gifts they really are, gifts from the Giver of all good things (James 1:17). This will help our kids escape the prison of towering self-regard for the freedom of a God-centered, God-dependent world.

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