Help kids grow in faith

It was a Sunday morning in January, and after traveling for a few weeks, I was looking forward to going to church with my kids.

I looked out the window and saw snow—lots of snow falling steadily with no sign of a snowplow in sight. Driving in these conditions without having the streets plowed definitely meant getting stuck.

I went from excited to disappointed and discouraged, and then, strangely enough, guilty. Didn’t the Bible talk about ‘not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together?’ (Hebrews 10:24–25 KJV)

Did I try hard enough to get to church? Had I failed my kids? What did God want me to do?

Isn’t this often how real life plays out? We want to raise our kids to honor God, yet we seem to fall short.

Sometimes it’s our fault, and other times it’s due to circumstances beyond our control. But what then? Do we give up and quit trying?

The Message version of Hebrews 10:24–25 puts it like this:

“Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do, but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:24-25

Inventive. I like this word. When applied to our walk with God, it opens up so many possibilities. We just have to figure out what works for our circumstances.

As moms, God can take our paltry efforts to point our kids to Christ and multiply them. In fact, the Word He promises, “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way thou shalt go; I will guide thee with mine eye.” (Psalm 32:8 KJV)

How to help your child grow spiritually

If you’re a mom like me who wants to help your kids grow in their faith, here are four key things that can help.

1. Don’t stop trying

Our snowy January Sunday morning ended up looking like this: I summoned the kids for online service.

Everyone had breakfast, got dressed, and showed up to ‘attend’ church. Of course, the toddler had his own plans and came with a Lego set. The teen grudgingly sat down, and the tween paid special attention to our pet rabbit during the online service.

But we did it. Some of the best times were when the toddler spoke or prayed out loud with the congregation. They are listening, I realized. There was peace as we gathered at home as a family to worship our Maker.

At dinner time, in the midst of the usual back-and-forth banter, I desperately wanted to share something meaningful for the start of a new year. So I said a prayer, reached for my phone, and opened the YouVersion Bible app. As we ate, we listened to the audio version of Joshua 1. Afterwards, without prompting, my kids shared opinions from the chapter and asked about words they didn’t understand.

They are listening, I realized.

I’m learning that if something doesn’t work, just try something else. There are lots of amazing resources on faith and parenting. Sure, it can be disheartening when you buy a devotional and it just doesn’t work, or family morning devotions never works as well as evening ones.

But what matters is that we try. There are nights when I simply share lessons from my own quiet time and trust that God will make that enough.

 

2. Share what you know

We teach our kids lots of things—to read, write, dress, share, clean up, drive, etc. We never claim to know everything, but we share what we know. So why do we end up feeling so unqualified to share our faith? Is it because we struggle with the very thing we’re trying to teach our child?

God’s way, I have learned, is not a one-way street.  While I’m teaching my children, God is teaching me too.

Often, we’ll read a verse together, and I find that I need it too. God speaks to me through our time together. Of all the things we teach our kids, the one that will last forever is our faith, rooted in the Word. Shouldn’t we always strive to give them that which will outlast everything?

3. Hold on to faith in hard times

It’s always easy to sing and praise until life deals us a blows that take us down. But oh how powerful it is when we share our faith with our kids, even in times of pain and despair.

Of course there is always an age-appropriate way to do this. But our kids don’t see how we wrestled with our faith in hard times, they may be tempted to give up too easily, or think they are the only ones who struggle.

Our faith is not just for the flawless, the strong, and those who always believe.

I lost both my sister and my mother. It was devastating for our entire family. We talked (and still do) about the reality of times when we pray and things don’t turn out as we hoped—pain, death, and the fear of loss. Even in those painful seasons, we have prayed for each other, read God’s promises and sung songs of praise and worship.

My toddler has told me that since Jesus is in heaven and in his heart, then Shosho (his grandmother), who is in heaven, must also be in his heart. The faith of my kids has bolstered mine. 

4. Choose discipline over desire

Everything good that we achieve in life takes effort, consistency, and perseverance. Many times, we rarely feel like doing the things that we should do. That’s when perseverance and discipline have to kick in. When we as parents prioritize discipline, we’ll help our kids to do the same.

In her book, Seasons of a Woman’s Life, Dr. Lois Evans noted, ‘Just as our earthly lives require discipline, diligence and determination, a committed spiritual life requires the same plus full dependence on Him.’

Here is another quote on discipline that I love.

So then, let us press on.

In the fight, say, does your heart grow weary?

Do you find your path is rough and thorny,

And above the sky is dark and stormy?

Never mind: go on

Lay aside all fear and onward pressing,

Bravely fight and God will give His blessing;

Though the war at times may be distressing

Never mind: go on.”

(Richard Slater 1854-1939)

If you’ve ever asked yourself, “How can I help my child grow in faith?” We hope that these ideas would be both encouraging and inspiring for you. May we raise families who follow after Jesus and plant their lives firmly in His truth!