Have you ever cringed at hearing your kids tone as they talked to each other or to you? I have. I thought, “Where did they learn this behavior?” Then the moment of exasperation came when I realized, “They learned it from me!” I had not sat with them intentionally instructing, “You need to use this tone when you’re frustrated, or when you disapprove of something.” But, they watched, they heard, and they began copying. I wept before Jesus, asking Him for His forgiveness. I am still on a journey to correct my way of sin when I am frustrated.
The idea that we will get what we are is sobering and scary! You might be thinking, “I sure hope this isn’t true because my kids are doomed!” I know what you might be feeling. You might be ready to throw in the towel after reading this principle.
Don’t throw in the towel just yet! The fact that you are reading this blog, I am hoping, is an indicator that there is a desire for more of Jesus, not just in your kids, but for yourself. I know that it is my heart’s desire. I want to love Jesus more because He deserves more. He is worthy of all our worship. So, let this principle spur you on towards seeking and loving Jesus more! Because of God’s amazing grace toward us, my prayer is that “my children will be better than what I am!” Nothing is impossible with God!
We will get what we are – This principle is a good reminder to us that the starting place for raising children who love Jesus wholeheartedly begins with your own relationship with Jesus.
Think about your day. What is your day to day life filled with?
From the moment you get out of bed, is your mind already racing with all the things you have to accomplish today? Do you wake up anxious and begin your morning worrying about the rest of the day? How do you end your day? Do most of your days finish with you vegging out in front of the T.V. or Facebook? We all have days like this. I sure have. But, if most of days begin and end this way, it begs for an evaluation of what is happening in your soul. It might be a sign that you need a reset in your life.
I have had multiple conversations with moms about what I do to help nurture my children’s relationship with Jesus. They are diligent in praying with their kids before bed time. They never miss a day of Bible reading with their kids. But, if I dig a little deeper and ask about how they are doing in their relationship with Jesus, the answer is, “I don’t spend regular time with Jesus.” Why is this? Why are we so religious about making sure our children grow in the knowledge and fear of God, yet we neglect our own relationship with Him?
My parents used lots of different techniques to teach us about Jesus, but I caught their faith because I experienced Jesus as real in the context of them experiencing Jesus as real. Jesus was number one for them, and I got to see how that worked out in real life.
One of the books I like on this topic is Sticky Faith: Everyday Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in Your Kids. After years of research and interviews of parents and teens, reveals a central theme among parents who had developed enduring faith in their kids. They made the cultivation of their own faith a priority. In her research, she found that there were no universal methods parents took to make their goal of having a vibrant relationship with Jesus a reality.
What she discovered was that the parents found their own methods to keep connected, to grow, and to flourish in their relationship with Jesus. They were committed to their own growth as followers of Jesus, not only their children’s.
They found that children who grew up in a Christian environment and continued on to have a thriving relationship with Jesus had parents who had, and continued to have, life-giving and life-transforming relationships with Jesus. Children who grew up in a context where Jesus was being worshipped, where life was being transformed, and where there was joy in following Him, the likelihood of them loving and following Jesus was really strong.
Sticky Faith is research based and has lots of practical ideas. I encourage you to check out their book. You can get the book on Amazon.com.
So the first key to raising kids who love Jesus wholeheartedly is you prioritizing and intentionally cultivating your relationship with Jesus. The methods will look different. But, if you do not prioritize your own relationship with Jesus, the chances are that they won’t either. What they will learn is to compartmentalize their religious activities to do the behaviors that meet their parents expectations. In other words, they will become good religious kids that don’t really love Jesus. We’ve seen many of these kids either leave the faith when they leave home.
As you read this post and felt a prick in your heart that before I worry about my own children’s spiritual development, I need to have a reset in my own spirituality, you are not alone. We all need it from time to time. There is always more intimacy with Jesus available for us.
Here are some practical steps you can take to reset your priorities to reflect your internal desire.
- Find a consistent time, preferably the best time of your day, to spend time with Jesus. Again, there are no universal methods that work for everyone. You must discover what methods work for you. If you’re like me, sometimes the methods change depending on the season of my life or what I am going through. But, it is consistent.
- Take a moment to think through your daily schedule. Find a time where you can consistently meet with Jesus. When I had little kids at home and I needed more sleep, I had to discipline myself to prioritize spending time with Jesus over my friends. I would schedule playdates around it.
- These days, my best time is early in the morning. I love silence. I love waking up and having some time to be with Jesus before my little family is fully awake. Right now, I am going through the book of John on my own, and my soul has been feasting on His Word.
- Find a consistent place. Where is that place where you can go and be free from all distraction? For me, it is my kitchen table. I know what you’re thinking. Kitchen table? Isn’t it the most distracting place? Not for me. I try my best to have that area completely clean before going to bed. The living room still has too much clutter but my kitchen table, it is clean and ready for me to focus.
- Lastly, it takes commitment. Commit to being disciplined in making your relationship with Jesus a priority. Without intentional commitment and discipline, I guarantee you, Jesus will become an afterthought.
As Jesus said in John 15:4: Abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” We want our children to bear fruit in their lives. They need to see that we are bearing fruit in our lives. It happens by abiding in Jesus. Commit to making Jesus your priority by finding a consistent time and place to love and be loved by Jesus!
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