May 28, 2020
Faith and parenting is tricky. We want our children to be exposed to the richness of faith, without it feeling forced or pushed on them. It’s a difficult tightrope to walk. I’m not sure we’ve always do this right, but we continue to try.
Our job as parents is to simply expose our children to an authentic, love-saturated, grace-driven relationship with Jesus. The rest is Holy Spirit work. We must trust that God is working, even when we don’t see it, and even when our children seem to have no interest.
We often spend the majority of our children’s lives cultivating their minds (school) and bodies (sports or other), yet we often don’t make room for the spiritual side, which is just as important.
Here are three things we do that our children point to as having made a significant impact on their spiritual lives:
1. We send them to a local church camp in the summer
We happen to have one of the greatest summer camps on planet earth in our area (Camp Spalding). One of the best parenting moves we have ever made is sending our kids to this camp. Not only do they hear about God in fresh ways, they also unplug from technology and plug in to nature. The influence of the high quality college age staff has also been a significant part of our children’s stories. They have found mentors, champions, and friends amongst that group.
We love that they are hearing about Jesus, faith, and the Bible in fresh ways outside of us. So many powerful moments have happened at camp for our kids.
2. We take them on service trips
The combination of serving others and seeing people’s lives up close is powerful. Tweens and teens tend to view the world from their limited view point, usually with themselves in the center. When they travel, experience how others live, and give their time, resources, and talents in a way that is truly helpful to a community, beautiful change happens in the heart.
There is a mysterious power in service. We are meant to pour out, not just receive. Our God is generous, and when we reflect that part of His nature, we thrive. We’ve taken our kids to Honduras, Nepal, and Guatemala. Our kids have also served domestically at an inner city ministry to the homeless. All of these experiences have shaped a part of them and have taught them how to look up and out.
3. We read Scripture together
God’s word is powerful. In Hebrews it tells us it is “living and active.” Meaning, as we read the bible, the bible simultaneously reads us and works its way deep into our hearts.
Many times our Scripture reading is a Proverb in the morning. Sometimes we memorize verses and write them on the kitchen chalk board. Other times we read larger passages of Scripture. It doesn’t matter much what we do, but simply that we are bringing God’s word into our center as a family.
There is a higher authority in our lives other than ourselves, and this reminds all of us where wisdom, truth, and true hope are found.
There is no formula for building faith in our kids. I’ve known incredible parents whose children have turned away from faith, and I’ve known parents who have done nothing whose kids are living faith-filled, vibrant spiritual lives. It’s important we not focus so much on the result, but on the journey.
It is my responsibility as a parent to expose my children to faith, to provide white space in their lives where they have the opportunity to hear God, and to pray without ceasing, even when I don’t see movement.
Then I let go and trust that God cares for my kids even more than my husband and I do, and He will be faithful in their lives. We do our part, and let God do His!