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How to Teach Your Kids to Prioritize Their Faith

How to Teach Your Kids to Prioritize Their Faith

We prioritize a lot of things these days. When it comes to our children, parents in the United States are often very invested in looking toward the child’s future. We consider their sports experience—prioritizing games, tournaments, and championships, often with the consideration of potential scholarships or college scouts. We consider their careers and work ethic, often encouraging our children to enter the workforce in their early teens and steering them through high-school classes with ambition for the future. AP courses, honor societies, community volunteer work, etc., will maybe set them up for that grade point average and a resume that elite colleges will look at it with interest.

Do we prioritize their faith with the same degree of intensity? If you want your children to prioritize something, you must first prioritize it by example. Let’s consider the fall-out if you have not prioritized faith in your children’s lives:

1. Faith will be secondary to their real priority. 

It seems simplistic, but when you write it out, it stands in bold, stark letters. Think of that. Faith is secondary. Meaning that you can compromise on your faith, just not on whatever comes before it. This type of compromise sets your child on a faith foundation made pretty shakily. Have you ever been in a house that was poorly constructed? Where the contractor took shortcuts on the foundational elements in order to pay closer attention to the aesthetics? Upfront, the house looks fabulous, but once purchased, all the secondary elements that are pivotal to a strong home become very evident through uneven flooring, cracks in the drywall, and leaks in the basement. For some reason, in American culture especially, faith has become a bullet point somewhere lower on the priority list for many children in exchange for the more immediate and aesthetic elements of life.

2. Less important faith makes for less important God. 

Again, it’s not rocket science. If faith isn’t considered a top priority, that goes hand-in-hand with their relationship with the Lord. He then becomes something of an option. If something must go on the chopping block for the sake of time, energy, or attention, God is placed there to face the proverbial ax along with any other bullet points on the list that are lesser the priority.

3. An axed God equals self-centered choices. 

Granted, they may not appear selfish on the outside, but let’s be honest, if you annex God to the sidelines, the choices made become of their own making. In other words, they’re not filtered through the priority of faith, and the Lord is not necessarily consulted as to what His insight is for their decisions.

In short, if you, as a parent, do not prioritize faith, then your children will more than likely learn to live in a likewise fashion.

So, the primary step to teaching your kids to prioritize their faith is: Example faith as the priority. How do we do this?

1. Invite your kids to consider God’s input. 

It’s a great idea to help your children keep the Lord front and center by inviting them to evaluate what the Lord’s input might be on the particular situation, decision, or problem they are facing. Granted, maybe God doesn’t have a specific “will” about whether your child takes T-ball or soccer lessons. But have you asked? Have you encouraged your child to ask? Sometimes it’s just making a practice of asking God for wisdom as you make a decision. This builds awareness in your child. They become aware that God is an active part of their life, both in the small and the big decisions.

2. Be conscientious of prioritizing other things over opportunities for your child’s spiritual growth. 

A friend of mine’s son plays high-school basketball and loves it. But they’ve had games scheduled on Sundays, which take him away from church activities. In our grandparent’s era, that idea would have been reprehensible in many ways. I actually remember in my youth that no games were scheduled on Sunday mornings specifically. Not so anymore. My friend’s son had a choice to make. A justification was that it was only a few Sundays for a short season. However, my friend’s son chose to inform his coach he could not play Sunday morning basketball games because his priority was to take time out for worship. It’d be great to say the rewards for this kid were huge. In fact, they were not. He’s still a part of the basketball team, but the rather vindictive coach has him benched for most games. When asked why he didn’t just play the games and forgo the drama, my friend’s son stated that he was “taught to make Christ a priority in all things.”

3. Don’t underestimate the power of a praying family. 

Do you pray before meals? Before bed? Have you gathered the family together for prayer over a decision that must be made? Where does prayer fit into your family’s practice? It’s great if you practice the typical traditions of mealtime and bedtime prayer, but often as the child ages, the practice seems to become a thing of the past. We lay aside the communal bedtime prayer with the blanket and stuffed animal, or we have competing schedules, and mealtime prayer falls by the wayside. Don’t underestimate the power of prayer in your older children’s lives. I know one mom who says a short morning prayer over both of her teenagers as they head out the door for school. I know a father who clasps a hand with his son on his son’s way to bed, and they say a short prayer together—he’s sixteen. We don’t outgrow prayer. It’s essential to teach this to our children by not aging them out of family traditions simply because it’s awkward. The older they get, the more critical it becomes to focus on faith practices.

Your kids will learn to prioritize their faith by the example of others—specifically, those most influential in their lives. Through opportunities to worship and learn, regular Scripture reading, and an active, breathing relationship with the Lord via prayer and intercession, faith can become an integral part of your child’s life. Sports, career, education, and relationships will become secondary—still important—but less so than their faith. And isn’t that really the way it should be? We say, “God first,” but do we truly mean it? If we don’t, our kids will be the first to pick up on that, and they will inevitably model what they see.

All things considered, the truth of the matter is that all things will pass away. As the writer of Ecclesiastes says, all things of this world are meaningless in the end. Only our relationship to our Creator and Savior can be carried with us into eternity. It seems like a logical progression of prioritization, then, doesn’t it? So let us teach it to our children. Let us bind His Word to them, help weave it into their hearts, influence every movement they make, and saturate their thoughts, ambitions, and motivations.

There is nothing purer than a child’s faith. That moment a young one looks at you and says their favorite person is “Jesus." Let’s help them keep that faith. Grow that faith. Live in that faith. Now and into their adult years.

Photo credit: ©Unsplash/Aaron Burden

Jaime Jo Wright is an ECPA and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author. Her novel “The House on Foster Hill” won the prestigious Christy Award and she continues to publish Gothic thrillers for the inspirational market. Jaime Jo resides in the woods of Wisconsin, lives in dreamland, exists in reality, and invites you to join her adventures at and at her podcast where she discusses the deeper issues of story and faith with fellow authors.

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