A simple Google search for raising godly children brings up a myriad of ideas and a substantial amount of resources. I lose my parental confidence in the plethora of choices. Which kid Bible is best? Discipline strategy? Verses to memorize? Family devotional? The questions—and options—never end.
Do you wonder if you are doing enough to raise Christians of the future? If so, here are 3 pieces of wisdom gifted to me by others that may serve as gauges for spiritual parenting.
- Raise them in Christ, not just in the church.
Kyle Idleman, teaching pastor at Southeast Christian in Kentucky, shares about a father who told him that his adult daughter wanted nothing to do with Jesus or the church. He told the pastor, “I raised her in church, but I did not raise her in Christ.” (Right Now Media, Galatians Small Group Curriculum, Lesson 1).
As a mom trying to navigate what it means to raise Christian kids, I tend to make checklists and standards. If I can measure the information my kids know about the Bible, if I can check off the kind things they did to serve others, if I can see the right behaviors…but I was actually starting to raise Pharisees, not saved-by-grace followers of Christ.
In addition to right information, I am learning to teach right relation to God.
When my kids hit each other, I remind them of sin and God’s forgiveness. When the neighbor kids call my son a baby, I remind him of the cross and God’s love for others. Not in a preachy, push-it-down-your-throat kind of way (at least I hope)—but in a regular conversation as we experience life. I want them to see that we are saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:10). And the life we live, we live by faith in the Son of God who loves us and gave Himself for us (Gal. 2:20).
- Give them the gospel every day.
Recently my son said while playing with Legos, “I’m not sure I want to be a Christian. It’s too hard to be good.” I replied, “Yep. It sure is. That is why we need Jesus. We can’t be good because we have yucky sin inside that makes us want to do the wrong things, but God forgives us and gave us the Holy Spirit. The more we know God’s Word and follow the tug of the Spirit inside us, the more we live like God. But we sometimes still mess up.”
Like my son, I have spiritual amnesia. I know I’m saved by grace through faith, but sometimes start living like the fruit of the Spirit is up to me (Gal. 5:22). Saved, check. But now, work hard. But that’s not the gospel. The gospel of Jesus Christ is something we—and our kids—need every day.
- Show and tell.
The Apostle Paul was a spiritual parent to many. He said, “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). He wasn’t talking to his physical progeny, but to his children in the faith. However, we can apply it to anyone we minister the gospel to, including our children. Making disciples is spiritual parenting.
I am told by older and wiser parents with grown children, that our kids will remember more of what we do with them than what we tell them to do. They will remember more of what we show than what we tell.
That is why I think the best way to raise a Christian family is to be following after Jesus ourselves and to take our kids along.
Let our kids see us reading the Bible and to read it with them. Let our kids hear us praying and to pray with them. Let our kids see us serving, and to serve with them.
Deuteronomy 11:19-20 is part of Moses’ instructions to the Israelites before they enter the promise land. And as he reminds them to obey God, he talks to parents about teaching their children the law. He says, “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
In other words, teach your children about God in everything we do, where ever we go. Like what Jesus says in Matthew 28:19, to make disciples as we are going. When we are on the way to the grocery store, teach truth. When we are tucking in kids at night, teach truth. When we are helping with Math homework, teach truth. Life situations can make the greatest parables or object lessons.
I really wish God guarantees that my kids will follow Jesus. It’s hard to trust their lives to the Holy Spirit when I want to push some buttons and make them walk a straight line. But if God can take a crazy, strong-willed girl like me, and bring me to Himself; if He can take murderous Pharisee Paul and turn him into humble Apostle Paul—He can have my children too. I will just do my faithful best to lead them well.
Read more from Seana Scott at SeanaScott.org.