How to Raise Children Who Love God

How to Raise Children Who Love GodIt’s easy to slip into the thinking that if we just homeschool, all will turn out fine. Our children will grow up to love God; they will be well-educated and spiritually mature, always following the Lord and living godly lives.

Wrong.

A quick search of the internet will prove this is simply not the case. I loved the blog post Israel Wayne posted not too long ago addressing the current trend of homeschoolers who are rejecting their parents’ faith and basically dishonoring them.

(Can I just say that I literally laughed out loud when I read this line: “I just want to say to everyone who wishes that I was writing blogs about how badly my life sucks lollipops…I’m sorry I’ve disappointed you by having a happy and satisfied life.”).

And then, of course, there’s the story of Josh Harris, who grew up a zealot of homeschooling, courtship, and so many good things, only to recently divorce his wife and leave his faith, rejecting all he supposedly once held important. What a sad time for his parents.

Oh, dear homeschoolers. Once again, we have to be reminded that life is not about a checklist. We so easily forget, don’t we? There are no secret formulas, no magic bullets. You can’t manufacture a genuine relationship. There is no amount of work you can invest that will guarantee your children will turn out fine.

Homeschooling is great. I personally think it’s the obvious best option for educating and investing time into one’s children to build strong relationships. But it’s not the secret formula and relying on that alone will only bring frustration and disappointment.

But fret not. God doesn’t want us to just throw up our hands and sing Que Sera, Sera. We can look to Scripture and look to godly examples around us to learn some ideas for helping our children grow into spiritually mature adults who love God. We cannot force them to love the Lord, but we can entice them towards a deep relationship by showing them how precious it is!

Here are some ideas:

 

1. Make your relationship with the Lord your top priority.

How can you expect your children to love God if you don’t love Him with all of your heart? The very best thing you can do is lead by example. Spend time with Him daily and share what He is teaching you. When your children see that God is a priority and when they hear you speak about Him, they will be drawn towards Him.

I could probably end this entire blog post with this first point because it is just that important and impactful! But I won’t… 😉

 

2. Start early encouraging your children to spend time with the Lord daily.

We have always made daily devotions a part of our children’s required “daily chores.” That might sound terrible, but the Bible does talk about “disciplining ourselves unto godliness.” Part of the Christian walk is self-discipline and if we want them to truly love God, then we must teach our children to be self-disciplined early. They need to learn how to “own” their faith.

When they were young, they read this Learn to Read Bible, among other Bible story books. They also enjoyed these inductive Bible studies by Kay Arthur. Korban also really loves these books. They are short and address specific sins through the eyes of a child, with Scripture references to go along with them.

Something else we did was to encourage them to pray for wisdom like Solomon did. I remember specifically having this conversation with our oldest son, Konur, and seeing the impact it made on him to think that he could have as much wisdom as he wanted simply by asking in faith!

We watched him grow spiritually even as a young child and we didn’t even have to ask how it happened. We knew he was praying for wisdom. Today, that boy spends hours in prayer and Bible reading daily and has a close walk with the Lord.

 

3. Have daily devotions time as a family.

Fathers are called to be the “priests of their homes,” but many households do not have regular family devotions. It is not always easy and grace is sometimes needed for difficult schedules, but it’s important to make a commitment to do something! Martin Luther is famously quoted as saying, “Work, work from early until late. In fact, I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”

There is always time! Even if it just starts with just one song, reading a couple verses, and praying through a prayer list, if it’s a daily time together as a family, God will honor the effort and increase the desire. It is very impactful for your children to see their father leading spiritually and worshiping the God he loves.

I think it’s so important to focus on reading the Bible, but stories can also be helpful, especially for younger children. These books are a current favorite of my seven-year-old’s.

 

4. Make the Lord a part of everyday life, not a separate subject.

Talk about Him as you go through your day. Remember all the things He has done for you and your family and recount them to your children. (Hmmm… this sounds strangely similar to Deuteronomy 6:4-9, doesn’t it? 😉 )

In our family, we often talk about how good God has been to us by providing our homestead to us for $40,000. It’s an incredible story! We also recount other specific answers to prayer, like the time I cried out in desperation for my husband to get a different job and that very day he was let go. It might not sound like an answer, but we knew it was! And God provided a better job a short time later.

Encourage them to pray specifically and point out the times when God has answered their requests, too. God is a good Father and loves to give good gifts to His children. Once, Korban prayed for 6 inches of snow. God answered that prayer and actually gave him an inch more! We made sure to tell him what a special answer to prayer that was and how much God loves him, and he continues to bring that story up. God didn’t have to answer the request, but He delighted to do so!

 

5. Get to their hearts with Scripture.

When you train them, God’s Word should always be what you use to exhort and encourage. So often we focus on changing their behavior so that we can be more comfortable or so that we don’t look like bad parents. But if we want our children to love God, our focus should always be on Christ. How does their behavior make Him look?

We need to get to their hearts and focus on their motivations for doing right. What does the Bible say about their behavior? Do they truly love God and want to please Him? Do they remember all the Jesus did to pay for those sins they are committing? Do they know how much He loves them and longs to have a relationship with them?

We must always bring it back to the Gospel.

One of our favorite resources for doing this was a book called Parenting with Scripture. It’s a topical book that helps us address different kinds of behavior issues using Scripture and activities to go along with it. We also tried to have clear expectations and swift consequences for disobedience. Allowing things to slide leads to anger and nothing will harden a child quicker than parents disciplining in anger.

 

6. Be open and real about your faith.

Kids are perceptive. They know when you are not being real with them and teens, especially, can smell hypocrisy a mile away. When they are young, they may let it slide because you are still their hero. But when they get older, they have no qualms about calling you out on all the inconsistencies they have seen for years.

You have two choices: You can respond in humility or you can respond in pride. Pride says, “I am the parent and I am in charge. I have my reasons. Do as I say, not as I do.” Trust me, you won’t get very far with that approach and it will not draw your teens closer to Christ.

Humility, on the other hand, says, “You are right. I didn’t see that, but I need to change and I will work on it. (And, by the way, I love you, but you need to work on how you confront authority.)” That last part may or may not be necessary. 😉 But the point is, don’t let their own spiritual immaturity and hypocrisy blind you from the sin they are pointing out.

When you are humble enough to admit wrongs and share your heart about how God is teaching you, they will let down their own defenses and share their own struggles. This brings us right back around to the first point. Again, it’s about modeling what you want to see and leading by example.

 

Of course, when it gets right down to it, prayer is the number one, most powerful tool we have to ensure that our children grow up to love God and serve Him!

All of these practical ideas are just empty works without the power of the Holy Spirit to work in their hearts. We must always be seeking Him and asking Him to reveal to us the specific ways that we can encourage our children’s relationship with the Lord.

I hope this encourages you and gives you some practical help in raising up children who love God with all of their hearts, souls, and minds! We can’t control their hearts, but we can make a big impact if we follow the Lord’s leading and humbly walk along side them.

Also, if you’d like to actually be able to see me while you listen to this episode, be sure to watch it on my new YouTube channel!

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