5 Ways to Turn Kids into Passionate Disciples of Jesus
I have a seven year old and a three year old. Which means of course, I’m exhausted most of the time. I came to the parenting role a little older than most of my contemporaries. I’m 46 years old. And Yes I notice the age difference at school events, and sports, and scouts. I’m in the vast minority in those gathering. I’m among the grey-headed parents of young children. There are some advantages to being a bit older while parenting. Perhaps the greatest advantage has been the opportunity to watch other parents over an extended period of time.
Most of my friends, in my age bracket, have kids who are preparing to finish high school or have already begun life after high school. Some of these kids, even at a relatively young age, are amazing examples of mature Christ-followers. I really hope my kids emulate them. I want my kids to become just like them. I hope my kids are committed to Jesus, to developing their faith, and to living out the mission of Jesus in the world the way some of these kids are doing. Now, clearly not every kid turns out the way their parents would like. Kids will make their own decisions in life, and their own mistakes. And some kids make really bad decisions regardless of whether or not their parents were ‘good parents’ or not.
However, I have observed a few things over the years that tend to happen in families where the kids turn out to be great followers of Jesus. Simply put, there are some things that parents can do that will increase the chances their kids will follow Jesus with passion and devotion.
1. Partner with the church.
One of my observations has been that families with full-on Jesus follower kids tend to be families that have partnered with the church in discipleship. These families don’t simply rely on discipleship to happen ‘at church,’ or ‘at youth group,’ or in ’Sunday School.’ No, these families, these parents, take the lead in discipling their kids, and then they partner with the church in the process. I can promise you this, the church can not do in one or two hours a week what parent’s neglect to do the rest of the week! Now, occasionally a particular kid will break the mold and become a deep follower of Jesus in spite of what’s happening in the home, but that is the exception and not the norm.
2. Be the primary example.
Here’s an observation that inspires prayer and repentance in me. Kids often become the kind of disciple of Jesus they see modeled in their parents. Your kids need to see you live a life of devotion! They need to see you make the life of faith a true priority; and really, more than just a priority, they need to see your way of life with Jesus. And then, they need to be incorporated into that life. Pray with your kids. Study the Bible with your kids. Worship with your kids; and not just on Sunday mornings either. And that leads to the next one . . .
3. Let them see you serve-invite them to serve with you.
Kids of parents who serve tend to become servants as well. In a self-obsessed culture this is a huge deal, truly huge. Service counteracts self-centeredness. Service is the cure for selfishness. But it’s not easy. And it might take years of letting them see you serve before they understand. Do it anyway! Here’s an idea, instead of just supporting the youth on a mission trip, how about you sign up to lead one? And then talk your kid into signing up for it! Imagine the statement that would make!
4. Equip them for the spiritual life.
I think of this as a step beyond modeling the faith. It’s more than just studying or worshipping with your kids and family. But actually taking the time to teach them how to do it for themselves. Have them lead family devotions. Get your kids to arrange a family day of service in your community. Perhaps you could have your kids lead a prayer walk through your neighborhood? Take the opportunity to have spiritual conversations with your kids whenever that opportunity arises. Teach them to recognize how God speaks to them, to be attentive to the Spirit’s activity in their own lives.
5. Pray without ceasing for them.
You might think this goes without saying. It doesn’t. There is nothing more important than praying for our kids continuously. Pray for them to encounter Christ in life changing ways. Pray for them to find their place in the family of faith the mission of Jesus. Keep praying, especially on those days when you are exasperated, exhausted, and they’ve just jumped all over your last nerve! Pray!
So there are five things parents can do to model the way of Jesus for their kids. What do you think? Will you give it a shot with your kids? Maybe you have a suggestion to add to the list….
Grace and Peace, Rich
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