Faith that Works (Helping your Child and Teen Grow in their Commitment to Christ)

Posted by Ty Fischer on Oct 29, 2015 5:35:49 AM

Two women praying in library

Raising children takes faith! It is also hard work!

Many times I find parents worrying about how (or if) their child's faith is growing. Sometimes this causes great distress for parents; other times it should cause more stress for parents than it seems too. So, I wanted to talk about a few practical ways in which you can help your child grow in their faith.

First, remember that your children are children and that their faith is going to be as immature as they are. As a young father I had a fairly grandiose and unachievable vision for the spiritual life of my children. I wanted them to be much more mature than I was at their age, or than the apostles were when they were full grown! When they were not, I tried to "help" them. That was even more frustrating for them and me. I had to come to terms with the fact that I needed to consistently help them see themselves the way God saw them and also, I needed to equally and consistently put the hope of the gospel before them. Sometimes I thought I could see their faith; sometimes they looked far from Christ. I trusted God and kept on moving forward, bringing the law to bear (especially when they broke it) and holding the gospel out to them as the only cure for guilt and sin.

Also, I will add, don't panic until it’s time to panic. I know that parents hold different views on how to view the children of believers. Some want to press their children to make a decision for Christ; others count on that commitment being a normal thing that happens in the course of a Christian family. (This short post is not aiming to fix those disagreements.) I would recommend the following for all parents whatever they believe about their child. The most important thing is not whether you made a decision in the past, but whether you are trusting Christ today. There is a change the Spirit works in the heart of every believer that is definitive, transformative, and (I believe) irrevocable. Remember, however, that children growing up need reminders of what it means to be a Christian. It is a life that starts with faith and repentance, but it is a life of continual repentance and faith. Focus on them following Christ today. They might follow in an immature way, but teach them that the Christian life is about repenting and trusting God.

Second, see sin and sin patterns as opportunities. Your children are going to blow it. I tell broken hearted children in disciplinary situations at school two things: first, you are going to blow it much worse when you grow up, and, second, Jesus is the answer now and then. When you blow it, take your sin to Christ. Sin and the brokenness that it brings is an opportunity. It is a time that God might be using to change your child and grow them into the person He wants him or her to be. Don't miss the opportunity by being too angry or too disappointed for them to hear the voice of the Spirit. Sometimes the Spirit whispers. Also, when your children blow it, it is a great opportunity for you to model the love of God to them. Show them that even when you are disappointed or angry or sad about their behavior that your love for them--beneath all of it--is what is most real.

Third, pray, pray, and pray again (part of the process is aimed at you!). There is so much of the life of your child that you cannot control. Because of this, your prayers are as important as your efforts. Remember Job, he prayed just in case his children had sinned. Remember, Monica, she prayed for her son Augustine for many years before he went to church and heard the gospel preached. On an important side note for moms with teenage sons, nagging is not praying. Teenage sons can be a mess. This often gives wonderful mothers great distress. Pray for them and love them; don't nag them. Nagging hardens men--especially immature young men. Pray and love; love and pray. Your prayers in secret will move God. God will move your child. Don't give up. Don't give in. Pray.

Finally, hope is a virtue that you should model. Too often, I see parents give up (sometimes for a season, but sometimes for good) on a child. Sometimes children hurt us so much that it is hard to have any hope. But remember, that God knows you completely. He knows all your sins. He knows every jealous, petty, harsh, judgmental, unrighteous thought that runs through your mind. He knows all the ways you are going to blow it tomorrow and He has great hope in and for you! When your child is hardhearted, pray that God would change his or her heart. When your child's heart breaks, encourage them and point them toward a life of repentance, faith, and faithfulness.

Topics: Faith, Family