The Hard Parent Question

September 25, 2013

“O God, You have taught me from my youth, and I will declare Your wondrous deeds…
Until I declare Your strength to this generation.” Psalm 71:17-18

I have two Godly, amazing sons-in-law. One of them sent this question recently:

“Hard question of the month for you. How do we raise kids who love and pursue God
because they love Him, not kids who know about Him but put up with Him because
parents make them go to church and endure prayers among other things? I know
the first thing is prayer”…

I’m struggling with this because it is so easy to know about God without actually knowing
Him. I want (along with every other parent) my kids to understand the difference between knowing God and knowing about God. That is much easier said than done…”

Dear Samuel,

Could there be any more important question for a parent? You have the heart for God to ask it with grace and courage. And yes, it is easier said.

I have written twice but not sent them and your Christ-centered question chases me. You are exactly correct: to pray is primary, for the Christ-enamored heart of a child first comes from God. I especially think you’re on target to make the goal and means God.

At the onset I must say this: children and adults have their own wills. Parents can do what is right and children can, on their own, reject Christ. (Too many parents are weighed down with inappropriate guilt.) But children who choose Jesus for themselves must see the real Jesus in you. He is, after all, the most colorful, unique, engaging, powerful person in history.

I agree with the quote, “More is caught than taught.” Parent by faith in God based upon Scripture, not by your fears. While constant in prayer (you were right), talk about Jesus, grow in knowledge and fascination about Jesus. Openly love the Word of God that points them to Jesus. Say yes to everything you can (the grace of Jesus) but say no when you must (the justice, instruction, and discipline of the Lord). Like Jesus, live out an emotionally healthy, God-centered, creation-appreciating, people-loving life. Take them into the world and love people as Jesus did. Live holy lives and avoid religion like a plague—like Jesus. Adore your bride openly, because Scripture says she is the bride of Jesus.

Love your heart and you Samuel,

I think Samuel and Robin are on the right track. Last week, we joined other family for a funeral in Macon, GA. Shawna, their two-year old, behaved well during the service. Cute as can be, she did call out “Popi” when she saw me right in the middle of it all! But something was wonderfully right (and cute) when the pastor prayed his last prayer, said “Amen,” and Shawna said—out loud—“Amen.”

It was a little, profound moment in the midst of her young life with God.


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