Kids can smell hollow religiosity from a mile away. I'm glad they can. Such a shallow picture of relating to God is never what He had in mind. They are aching for so much more. You can show them what it looks like.
Man was alone once. Once. God did something about it so that man would never have to be alone again. Sadly, soon after God remedied Adam's aloneness with a partner, man was ceaselessly lured back into that place of isolation. It's been that way ever since.
Even at a young age, I see my kids tempted to isolate themselves from everyone or everything around them. If they are hurt, tired, angry - whatever - their answer seems to be in their bedroom, insulated from anyone who might bother them.
I want to invite them out of that, though. Their room might be comfortable, but it's not where all the action is. God is moving on this earth. He is wooing people to Himself. My wife and I have joined Him in that adventure. We want our kids to know that, see it, and hopefully one day join us in it as well.
We realized there are things we are currently doing that our kids would never know about. Instead of keeping them hidden, we decided we had an opportunity to give our kids a vision of mission. Here are a few things we have intentionally done because of it:
1. Show them the money you give away. Years ago I met a rich guy. He was worth hundreds of millions of dollars. In tears, he told me how vividly he remembered helping his dad put his checks into envelopes each month as they mailed them to the church, to missionaries and various ministries. It marked my friend to this day.
Most of us either don't give, are secretive about what we give, or just use automatic withdrawal to support organizations. I'd encourage you to tell your kids how much you are giving, to whom you are giving it, and why you are doing so.
2. Consider what your family can do, together. I've written about fostering on this blog more times than I know. Yet, I would not say I am passionate about fostering. Fostering is a way for us to live out our faith - as a family. We accept into our family a hurting child. We all sacrifice for them, care for them, and then send them to their new place. Our young kids are experiencing loving the orphan. I love that for them.
You might not be able to foster. What can you do as a family? Could you invite over a neighbor for dinner, cook a meal for a widow, do some random acts of kindness throughout your neighborhood? Any of this can be done with deep meaning and reason. It is like starting with training wheels on a bike. Who knows, someday your daughter, the missionary, might look back on these days as the time when she learned to live out her faith.
3. Vocalize your prayers. You and your spouse might be praying for things individually. What if you let your kids in to that - to an appropriate level? Your kids will never see your need fulfilled unless you include them in the process of needing, praying, waiting and thanking.
I've noticed my oldest has just started feeling more comfortable praying out loud with me. Now that he is willing to do so, I want to start asking him to pray for specific things. When God answers, I want to point that out as well. If God answers differently than what he asked, I will be able to show him what faith is - trusting God.
4. Show them that authentic faith results in action. Authentic faith does not result in just church attendance, but in action. Kids need an example to follow. They need to see you love the unlovable, or bless someone for no good reason. They need to see a faith on display. When they do, they will be able to test the waters of living out their faith as well.
I have to fight hard to not let our family just fall into the rut of church attendance christianity. My wife and I want to be used by God, and we want our kids to see what it looks like to join Him. It is our opportunity to show them.
What are some other ways to help your child see the mission of God?
Show them a faith that results in action.
If you liked this post, check out Kevin's personal blog, Following to Lead, where he regularly writes on following, leading, fostering and family.
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