How to Raise Children that Love Jesus with Ease
When my second son was a toddler, we went to visit relatives in Kansas, and one of them asked him, “So what do you want to be when you grow up?” And he plainly answered, “A bad guy.” And began acting like he was violently fighting imaginary good guys in the air.
My husband and I laughed with embarrassment and said, “Don’t you mean you want to be the good guy that fights the bad guys?” And he responded again, “No. I want to hurt the good guys.” And we quickly regretted our decision to ask for clarity as we escorted him away from the group.
Being a relatively new mom at that time who was teaching parenting classes at my counseling office as well leading a bible study at my home, I found his desire to be a bad guy humbling to say the least and a blow to my Christian-therapist-mom pride to say the most. And I instantly found myself wondering if there was a manual I could buy that would teach me how to raise kids that love Jesus. (And I also wondered if they offered expedited shipping on it.)
As Christian parents, I think we can all relate to this story of seeing our kids act in a way that makes us doubt if we really know what we are doing as parents even though we are striving to raise kids that love Jesus. And sometimes it can feel like a lot of pressure to do the right things and avoid the wrong things in order to raise children with strong faiths.
But today, I want to remind you of one of my favorite scriptures in regard to parenting and it comes from Deuteronomy 6: 5-9 which says:
“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.”
When I read these words, I am reminded that God wants us to teach our children about Him, but He doesn’t want us to stress about doing it the right way or the wrong way. Instead, the Bible says that if we want our children to know Jesus, then we should focus on our own faith first, and then tell our children about it as much as we can in the everyday moments of our lives.
Because when we love the Lord with all our heart and soul and strength as the verse indicates, then our children will experience the power and presence of His love through our words and actions. And when the commands of God are on our hearts, we have them stored up and ready to apply in our everyday lives.
Once this happens, God tells us to talk about our faith and His teachings every chance we get because when we do this, our children begin to embrace it too. But this verse doesn’t say it has to
be at a certain time or in a certain way but instead, conversations but God and His word should just be a part of our everyday lives in a consistent way.
For example, instead of panicking when our child says they want to be the bad guy, we can respond with something our faith has taught us, like: “Yeah, sometimes I want to be the bad guy too when I get mad. But Jesus has taught me that I win the fight by showing love not anger. So if you really want to have the power to win in this world, choosing love is your strongest tool!”
And if your child shrugs and keep playing bad guys, you can know that you have put a nugget of truth into their little mind as they grow. Or when someone is mean to them, we bring up how we are taught to love our neighbor. Or when someone is mean to us, we bring up how we are taught to forgive. Or when a friend says they are richer than they are, then we can use that opportunity to teach them about humility.
In other words, we teach our children to love Jesus when we genuinely love Jesus and talk about the impact He is making in our lives in a practical and helpful way. It is never rigid. Instead, it is the outflow of our hearts.
Because words are powerful, and actions are powerful too. But when our words and actions match the faith we teach, there is nothing that can stop the profound impact our example will make on creating strong faiths in the hearts of our children.