Mar 06

Creating an Intentional-Push for Growing Kids in their Faith, Part 3

Parents often feel inadequte when it comes to pushing their kids to grow in their faith.  This is common and normal for several reasons.  First, parents have never been parents before!  Each day is a new day, and each season and stage of a kid’s life is a new. Unless a parent has raised a kid until they are twenty before raising a second kid, each day is essentially unchartered waters.  Second, each kid is different and requires different techniques and strategies.  Our oldest daughter is wired very differently than our younger daughter.  We have had to learn how to lead and challenge our kids in two very distinct ways.  Third, I often talk with parents who have come to faith later in life (after they were teenagers), so it is at times there are feelings of inadequacy in that parents are unsure personally of the stages of faith development, or are unsure as to how much or how little their kids needs to be challenged.

As I mentioned in my first post of this series, parents are the number one influence in a kid’s life.  You set the pace and direction in which a kid will view as the model for faith.  If you want to know what your kid’s faith is going to look like, the best measure is to look at your own faith, as that is typically what they will follow.  Think about what this means; our feelings of inadequacy of raising our kids can be subsided primarily from our continued growth and development in our own faith.  If we want kids with strong faith, we must have a strong faith that they can see and emulate.  Their faith will be authentic as your faith is authentic.  This is the essence of the Great Commission found in the book of Matthew:

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age…Matthew 28:18-20”

Take a moment and go back and read the highlighted part of that verse.  What we have learned from Jesus is the very same thing we should teach our kids.  If we are feeling inadequate, then we need to spend more time with Jesus!  More than that, Jesus says that he will be with us as we teach our kids (they are, of course, the first disciples we are to be tending before we head out to the nations).  We have all the resources that we need to help our kids develop a lifelong faith.

While we teach our kids what Jesus has taught us, there is an art we have to develop in order to create a culture that provides an intentional-push for our kids.  Jesus was a master teacher. Remember, if we over-push we can push them further away, but if we self-push, they may not end up anywhere.  What does an intentional-push look like?  Here is what we find in the Bible:

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.  Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  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.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates…Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Raising our kids to have an authentic faith doesn’t happen automatically.  We have to be very intentional about building times into daily schedules and routine in which to create an intentional-push for our kids to be engaged in faith development, and help navigate with them through life.  Here is a diagram that helps to illustrate this:

Source: "Thinking Orange", by Reggie Joiner

Just like there are times when Jesus is a teacher, counselor, friend and coach to us, we must become these things to our kids.  Each of these roles helps us to create an intentional-push, building a healthy, intentional balance of teaching, discussion, encouragement, and intimacy.  As we work to implement this kind of rhythm in our family, we have not been perfect, but it serves as a helpful guide for us.  It reminds us there are times to push, times to back off, times to encourage, and times to be a comfort, all the while nurturing their heart as we go to God to nurture our heart to become more like Him.

Is all of this time consuming?  Yes.  Require us to evaluate priorities?  Yup. Challenging?  You bet!  I’ll help with the challenge part tomorrow.  Until then, may your love for God develop a faith that is authentic and contagious that it causes an intentional-push in the faith development of your kids.