My new-parent-friends want to know what they, as Christian mums and dads, can do to "make sure" their children don't walk away from God. This category of questioning should be the first clue as to why they're coming to me.
You see, I walked away (more like ran away) from God, the church, Christ and my faith when I was 12 or 13 years old. I was raised in a Christian home, yet made an about face in my pre-teen years when popularity, boys and my desire to control my own life took priority.
Thinking back to my own upbringing, I know my parents tried their best to have Jesus in our home. Yet, like all families, nothing was perfect.
Being Christ to your children
Jesus promises all of us that we will be His "witness"(Acts 2 verse 18) whether we like it or not. That includes inside our own home with our spouse, children and family. There isn't an option. But it's up to us if we want to be a good witness or a lousy one.
So parents and future parents, here are my tips on how to be a witness to your children so they will hopefully know that walking with Christ is worth it for them:
1. Your relationship with God needs to go beyond Sunday morning.
This means you need to figure out how to include Christ-like thinking, talking and acting in your home every day of the week. If Jesus is relegated to Sundays, it will be hard for your children (no matter what age) to understand they need Him and should praise Him every day of the week too.
2. Be grateful – out loud!
Most businesses, services or governments get complaints before receiving compliments. Is the same true for the words that cross your lips? Gratitude changes our attitude, so speak up about what you are thankful for each day.
3. Have your devotional and prayer time in the open.
Jesus does tell us to go into our prayer closet, and to interact with Him intimately. But, you might be the only example to your kids (and spouse) of what it looks like to have a personal relationship with Jesus. If you do this behind closed doors, they will never know that you spend time daily seeking God, reading His word and worshiping Him.
In humility, King Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20) prayed in front of the entire nation of Judah when he didn't know how to deal with an impending enemy attack. Are you willing to pray honestly and desperately with your family when you need God's help? Show your spouse and kids that God is the one to turn to when things are good and when things are hard.
4. Make your house different than your children's' friends' homes.
What about your family, the relationships within in, the house itself is different than the homes of the non-Christians with whom your children interact? When people walk into your house do they know you're a fan of a certain sports team? What about a home that's devoted to following Christ? How can people tell?
It might be cheesy wall hangings, but it will likely be the way you interact with visitors and each other. "They will know you are mine by your love for one another," (John 13 verse 35). Yes, that's in our church families, but in our biological ones too.
5. This last point is probably the most important one: pray for your children. Even before they're born, start praying. I know my Dad is praying for the next generation (his grandchildren) that they will be Jesus-followers too.
God does what we can't. He is the impossibility-overcomer.
Lisa Goetze is a 30-something, single woman endeavouring to love people – of all ages - with reckless abandon. She's a former Canadian journalist who now calls Brisbane home. She's a full-time volunteer at Youth With A Mission.
Lisa Goetze's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/lisa-goetze.html