Help Your Kids Develop Faith that Lasts
- Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Dr. Kara E. Powell and Dr. Chap Clark's book, Sticky Faith: Everyday Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in Your Kids, (Zondervan, 2011).
Tragically, many people who grew up as Christians end up drifting away from the faith once they become adults. Parents are heartbroken to watch their children leave behind the faith they’d hoped would become a lifelong priority. Meanwhile, God’s great purposes for people He loves go unfulfilled.
But it doesn’t have to be that way for you and your kids. You can help them develop “sticky faith” – faith that lasts and grows their whole lives long. Here’s how:
Recognize how important your own spiritual example is to your children. The way in which you express and live out your faith has a greater impact on your children’s Christian walk than any other factor. So pray daily that God will help you become the person He wants you to become, so you can set the best example of faith in action for your kids. Make your relationship with God your top priority in life.
Pray for your kids often. Regularly ask God to strengthen your children’s faith and draw them closer to Him.
Teach your children what it means to trust Jesus. Help your children discern the difference between placing their trust in Jesus and trusting in something lesser, such as their instincts or their desires. Encourage each of your kids to focus on the quality of their relationship with Jesus rather than in how righteous they can make their lifestyle. Focus on relationship instead of rules. Tell them that God cares much more about who they’re becoming as people than He does about what religious activities they do. Your children will eventually get burned out on religion, but pursuing close relationships with Jesus will give them ongoing excitement and peace, which will motivate them to stick with their faith.
Love your kids unconditionally. Ask God to help you love your children in the same way that He loves them: unconditionally. Modeling that love to them will help them understand and appreciate how God loves them, while also inspiring them to love Him back.
Use your resources wisely. Show your kids what it looks like to manage your God-given resources (such as time, money, and energy) wisely. Let them see how you struggle sometimes to make the best choices, and what a difference it makes in your life when you choose to trust God’s guidance over making selfish decisions. As your children watch you manage your resources faithfully, they’ll learn valuable skills that will help them live healthy lives, and they’ll see firsthand how important it is to trust God.
Help your children discover their true identities. Encourage your kids to build their identities around the fact that they are God’s beloved children, made in His image, with important purposes to fulfill in the world. Focus on their character development first and academic achievement second, rather than vice versa. Teach them to develop the character traits that Jesus models, such as kindness and self-control. Help your kids discover their God-given talents, develop them, and put them to use to contribute to the world around them.
Talk about faith with your kids. Be completely open and honest about discussing your personal spiritual journey with your children. Talk with them about how you’ve dealt with doubts, temptations, and sinful mistakes. Let them know how Jesus has helped you overcome challenges. When your kids know that you’re comfortable sharing your thoughts and feelings about faith with them, they’ll become more comfortable opening up to you about how they think and feel about faith. Be creative about how to fit quality conversations with your kids into your life – perhaps you can talk with them while you’re in the car together, or while preparing for bed. Listen carefully and non-judgmentally when they talk with you, so and do your best to help them answer their spiritual questions while assuring them of your unconditional love for them.
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