God’s purpose for our lives runs adjacent to His plan. When, as parents, we acknowledge the hand of God on the direction of our lives, we can then turn and lead our children to seek His path and purpose for theirs.
“Why can’t we live by Papa and Grammy?” my little girls ask through streaming tears every time we say good-bye. In those moments, I wrestle with God and the lump in my throat, because I don’t always understand. In those moments I cling to truths like Ephesians 3:20, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work with us.”
Hope is not anchored in having all of the answers, understanding why, or knowing how. Our hope is anchored in Who we run to. The hope of Proverbs 22:6 is that as our children see us seeking God, they will eventually bypass our voice for His.
Here are 10 ways that parents can lead children to seek God and follow Him:
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1. Location. Location. Location.
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all our might,” Ecclesiastes 9:10.
Many of us picture our futures in dream destinations. But God says in the above verse, “whatever,” not wherever. Some of us may be called to get up and move, while others are directed to stay put. Wherever we are, we can work hard at whatever He’s given us to do. We can focus on the next thing He’s given us to do or the last thing we remember Him telling us to do.
There are two important lessons that I have passed on to my kids to help cope with physical distance from family. One: if God intends to move us, He will move us as a family. And second: if He has us here, there is something important He has for us to do. When we seek Him first, we grow momentum in the purpose He has for us. He is faithful to amaze and overwhelm us, wherever we are.
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2. Talent isn’t Everything.
“Live in whatever situation the Lord has assigned you, just as God called you,” 1 Corinthians 7:17.
To combat entitlement that runs rampant in society, it’s important to remind children that talents and gifts come from God, require hard work, and exist to glorify Him. Reading the Bible together daily is the best way to guide them as they grow. There are many different versions of the Bible and daily devotions catered to kids of every age group to help parents tackle tough issues.
Life will still get hard and for our kids, and unfair circumstance will find them no matter how much we prepare them. But through confidence in God’s hand, our own journey produces the clarity we need as parents and guardians to teach our children how to root their confidence in Him.
Jeremiah 29:13 says, “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” God faithfully grows us through each experience to reveal a vein of unstoppable purpose.
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3. Pray to Prepare.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus,” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.
Our children can learn how to ready their hearts through the time we take to teach them how to talk to God. Through Christ our children can learn to be joyful in all circumstances. As parents and guardians, we have the opportunity to teach them how to praise God, pray, and give thanks as we walk beside them through all of highlights and hard times that growing up entails.
By our example of prayer, we have the honor of modeling how to humbly glorify God in triumphs and cling to Him through the incomprehensible difficulties. God wants us to celebrate our victories with Him and fall apart at His feet when we are hurting.
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4. They Do What They See.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit,” John 15:5a.
Kids will most likely mimic what they see. Every parent doesn’t have to run for the hills thinking that every mistake they make will inevitably ruin their child’s life. What we choose to do with our mistakes can have a powerful impact on how our children handle theirs.
The above verse challenges us to maintain a deep relationship with Christ. When we do, we realize the power of His forgiveness working in our daily lives. Teaching our children to acknowledge their mistakes and imperfections allows them to embrace the reality of that forgiveness too. It takes the pressure of life off, knowing we don’t have to be perfect or that we even can be!
When it comes to the purpose and path for their life, children need to know just as much as we do that Christ will never discount them due to their mistakes.
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5. Helping Kids Cope with Fear.
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise- in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me,” Psalm 56:3-4.
My youngest daughter has been tormented by “the scarries” ever since she her eyes accidentally absorbed a scary picture. The only way I know to replace her fear is with the God of Peace. “God is bigger,” we pray, but the fear threatens to linger.
No matter what age our children are, there will be fearful moments that we don’t have answers for or understand.In those moments, sometimes all we can do is pray. Thankfully, praying the most powerful thing we can do. Over and over again, we can pray the same prayers and speak the same truths over our children’s fears. Teaching them that it’s OK to get real with God in scary moments affirms His continual presence in their lives.
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6. Embrace Age’s Wisdom
“How great is God-beyond our understanding! The number of his years is past finding out,” Job 36:26.
We can look back and see the tracks of God’s faithfulness at any point during our lives, if we choose to view the past in the light of His perspective Grace. Looking back allows us to move forward in wisdom. Our children learn to see God’s grace in their own journeys as we tell them of His hand on ours.
How much more infinite in wisdom is our God, who is timeless? That’s what Job was getting at in the above verse. All of the torment he endured allowed him to see God. God doesn’t desire for us to suffer, especially at the hand of mistakes He continually warns us not to make. But it happens. He allows it. And He promises to make good out of all of it. Sharing our stories of God’s faithfulness helps our kids relate to what that looks like in their everyday lives.
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7. The Threat of Comparison.
Comparison can rob kids of the joy that God has prepared for their journey. Growing up can be uncomfortable, and fitting in causes many kids to compromise who they are. Bullying has become an epidemic, and social media has stripped their privacy at a very young age. There isn’t a perfect solution to assure our kids don’t get sidetracked by the pressures they endure, but we can send a consistent message to defuse it.
It’s difficult for our kids to focus on the challenge of the above verse, “love one another,” when they’ve been pushed around or pressured to fit. But, as parents and guardians, we can meet them with love at the door. Assurance of our love is important, as well as the reiteration that God loves them even more. And as much as we don’t want to talk highly of anyone that has hurt our precious babies, we must remind them that God unconditionally loves those bullies just as much as He loves them.
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8. Life Lessons on the Fly.
“Do not worry,” Matthew 6:34.
When my daughters are nervous for a competition or a test, I remind them that “the hay is in the barn.” It’s an old phrase my track coach used to put my nerves at bay. It means, the work has already been done. By the time race day arrived, the workouts, long runs, and rest days have already been logged. Racing was my opportunity to go out there and enjoy the fruit of all that hard work, by doing what I loved – racing!
Our children can learn to walk out into life with the kind of confidence that comes from a reading the Bible and praying, daily. Just as we practice throwing the ball or flipping math facts, parents and guardians can help instill these good daily habits. Some struggles stretch beyond our reach and require professionals that are trained to help kids with depression and anxiety. If some simple steps aren’t working, don’t hesitate to seek those who are gifted to heal minds.
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9. The Timing is Perfect.
“For such a time as this,” Esther 4:14.
It’s no surprise to me that my daughters dream of moving to new places. Northern Ohio can wear on a person when winter treads far into spring’s territory.
The opportunities in store for us often lie in places we can’t wait to leave. It’s tempting for all of us to wonder if the grass is greener on the other side. Queen Esther had to wonder, too. But God was able to use her current situation to accomplish what she could not see coming. Some Winters are longer than others, as are confusing seasons of our lives.
It’s hard to explain that concept to a kid, so I use this analogy. “Even though it’s still cold and the skies are gray, somehow the grass is turning green and the plants see the sun. Though we don’t know how, spring is coming.”
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10. Choose Joy.
“Be content whatever the circumstances …” Philippians 4:11.
Helping our children find their place is hard. There are no guarantees in parenting. We can pray and prepare them to walk into God’s purpose for their lives, but they eventually need to take those steps on their own. Perhaps the best way to parent is to practice letting go and letting God move them.
When we humbly acknowledge that our children are ultimately His, not ours. It not only puts our plan in perspective, but also our purpose. If too much of life revolves around our kids, we can’t give what God is asking of us. Maybe being content in all circumstances, even parenting, comes from continually clinging to God through it all.
Meg Bucher (Megs) writes about everyday life within the love of Christ on her blog, https://sunnyand80.org. A stay-at-home mom, freelance writer and blogger, Bible study and children’s worship team leader, she resides in Ohio with her husband of ten years, two daughters, and their Golden-doodle.
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