I’m often asked how to change a child. How do you make a child follow Jesus? How do you make a teenager make better choices?
There are a few realities of parenting I’ve learned. One is, you can’t change a child or a teenager. The Holy Spirit can. I’ve talked before about how you need to be praying for your child, but there is something you can do beyond that.
What is important to you often becomes what is important to your child. Think about it, there is a good chance you have a hobby because one of your parents had a hobby. Maybe you like working on cars because you used to do that with them. You might like camping or hiking because they did.
In our house, our kids have a deep love for music, for nature, sports in general and the Steelers. Why? Because Katie and I love those things. We pass on what we love.
The reality of parenting is that if our kids are not growing in their love for Jesus, the first place we need to look is our own lives. It isn’t the church’s fault, it isn’t our kid’s fault, the fault often lies with us. If Jesus isn’t important to us, why should we expect it to be to our kids? They pick their cues up from us.
I remember talking with two dads a few years ago who each had teenage kids. One of the dad’s was lamenting that their kids were seniors in high school and wanted nothing to do with church or God. The other dad looked at him and said, “How can you be surprised? You’ve spent the last 6 years skipping church and missional community for basketball and soccer. You’ve taken your kids all over the state for competitions. You’ve spent 6 years telling them that sports are more important than God, they are just doing what you taught them.”
Those words have stuck with me; they are just doing what you taught them. Our kids do what we teach them. They pick up their cues from us. If we tell them something is more important than church, reading your bible, praying, giving, attending a missional community, they will learn that lesson.
Here’s the question to wrestle with, are your kids growing in their love for Jesus? If your kids left home right now, would they be reading their bible? Would they look to join a missional community or do they not know how important biblical community is?