How do we raise our children to know and love Jesus? It’s an exercise in faith, grace, prayer, and a deeper understanding of Jesus’ love for us! The first in a series of posts by my fabulous friend, the amazing Allison Harris… ~TCGWWhen The Church Girl asked me to share about parenting, I thought
“I failed as a parent!”
“My grown kids could tell stories!”
But God is merciful! My husband, Jerry, and I have raised four children who love Jesus in spite of our parenting. He is the senior pastor at our church and I have been involved with children’s ministry for forty years and directed preschools for 25 of those.
Along the way, I’ve learned faith.
In my experience in youth and preschool ministry, I’ve seen many styles of parenting.
Some are great,
some are good,
some are less than good but not bad,
some are just bad.
We could discuss parenting styles for years, but what I know beyond a doubt is that God is the best parent and following His example is what will always work.
Christian parenting is not for the faint of heart! Take courage. Tell you kids every day about Jesus in Everything. (Photo Credit: Natalie Halma)
How do we parent our children to know and love Jesus? I am no expert, but here are a few things I’ve learned:
- Be real! Kids pick up on fake faster than adults. Walk out your faith daily in a real and tangible way so that your kids will not stumble. There’s no faking faith in front of your kids – they can smell it a mile away. (Some examples: You’re yelling at your kids on the way to church and then smiling as soon as you walk in as if nothing happened at all…you are praying with your kids before before bed and then sneaking out to the bar while they’re asleep…you drop them off at church but don’t go in yourself…you watch inappropriate things on streaming device…that’s not demonstrating an authentic Christian walk in front of them.) Being transparent shows meekness; meekness is strength under control.
- Don’t be afraid to laugh when they point out things in the Bible or church that are weird to them or even to you. There are some weird and funny things in life, in church and in the Bible. Include them in conversations about church and the Bible. When you keep conversations a little lighter, add a little humor, acknowledge that certain bible stories are plain weird, then children will lean in more and conversation will flow easier.
- Be proactive in asking questions. You want to know what and how they think! By asking good questions, it’s very possible they will come to the conclusion you want without you being the bad guy. Questions like “Who do you think God is?”, “What do you think Jesus thinks about…….”, “How does that make Jesus feel?”, “How does Jesus talk to you”, “Do you talk to Him?”, and “What do you think you ought to do about…..” stimulate discussion and prompt spiritual thoughtfulness. Just be ready for some funny, troubling, and wild answers!
- Respond, don’t react
There are things I wish I would have done more of for my own kids, so here’s my advice to you:
For as long as they will let you, read the Bible to them before they go to bed.At night, the heart is softer, and they will remember what they hear as they fall asleep.
No matter how tired you are, read them a Bible story. EVERY DAY! Read them the fun stories, the gory stories, the gigantic faith stories, and the songs (Psalms). EVERY DAY!
As they grow a older, have them read the stories to you. If you’ve put in the time with them when they’re little, when they’re teens they’ll discuss, analyze, and apply the stories of their youth. They will remember!
PRAY FOR WISDOM, DISCERNMENT, DIRECTION, AND DEVOTION. EVERY DAY! EVERY PHASE! EVERY CRISIS! EVERY FITFUL AND SLEEPNESS NIGHT! EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE – PRAY FOR YOUR CHILDREN.
“And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. REPEAT THEM AGAIN AND AGAIN TO YOUR CHILDREN. TALK ABOUT THEM WHEN YOU ARE AT HOME WHEN YOU ARE ON THE ROAD, WHEN YOU ARE GOING TO BED AND WHEN YOU ARE GETTING UP.” (Deuteronomy 6:5-7 NLT, BOLD mine)
Allison Harris and her husband, Jerry, serve as leaders of a multisite megachurch with 10,000 members and nine locations in the midwestern United States.