When Your Child Has Questions About God,
Avoid the "Deer in the Headlights" Look
A Christian husband once told me he and his wife adopted this motto for their home: "We may lose at everything else, but we will win with our children." In the area of grooming the minds of their kids, sadly, some evangelical parents have already lost the battle. My prayer (and my purpose in writing these articles) is that in this age of unrelenting darkness, every member of every family will "go the distance" for Christ.
In the previous post of this two-part series, I listed three starting points regarding taking charge of your children's spiritual formation. Let's continue with several more:
4. Don't procrastinate, because time won't wait for you.
Don't approach life like the person who once said, "One good thing about procrastination is that you always have something planned for tomorrow!" The teen years go flying by, as I'm sure all parents of adolescents know. It's urgent that you do as much as you can to help your teen learn and live apologetics. Guide them not just toward beliefs, but also toward knowing why they believe those things.
5. A biblically literate family doesn't happen by accident.
Growing up in the South, I was fortunate enough to often hear adults repeating bits of wisdom that had been passed down through the generations. One of my favorite that I'd hear the old-timers use was, "Chase two rabbits and they'll both escape." In other words, be focused. Go after one thing a time.
It's no different in setting up spiritual disciplines in your household. Here are some tips to help you follow through with this:
- Set a daily time to pray with your teens—and stick to it.
- Plan and begin your family's own "Bible literacy program." Christian bookstores have plenty of "Read-the-Bible-in-a-Year" choices. You'll be amazed at how quickly daily Bible reading can become a natural part of your day. There is great benefit in reading the Bible through in its entirety.
- Read the Gospel of John through in one month (with only 21 chapters, this can be done in only minutes per day).
- Read through the Bible's book of wisdom (Proverbs, only 31 chapters) in one month.
- Talk with your teens about their spiritual life. Let them know that they can talk with you about anything. What are their areas of doubt or struggle? What issues in the Bible do they have a hard time grasping? The important thing is to keep a steady dialogue going.
- Together, practice sharing your salvation testimony. Talk about your life before your met Christ, how you met Christ, and how He's changed your life. Establish the importance of sharing your faith with others by doing exactly that in your own life. Let your teen know that your family is not ashamed of the gospel (Rom. 1:16).
- Work on Scripture memory together. Heed the Bible's call to "hide God's Word in your heart" (Ps. 119:11). Learning one verse per month is a realistic goal. Practice reciting memory verses and quizzing each other.
- Exercise discernment in both the content and quantity of media that you allow into your home. Make entertainment choices that are appropriate for a Christian family. Set boundaries, and stick to them. Help your teen understand why it's important for Christians to guard their hearts (see Prov. 4:23, Ps. 101:2-3).
- Encourage your teen to read good books on the Bible and about apologetics. Build a resource library for your family, making sure that your teen is informed on the key apologetics topics (such as the ones addressed in this book).
6. Set your priorities.
If you're serious about building your family on biblical truths, you can't just treat it as just another phase you're in. Teaching your teens more about their faith must be a top priority, or else it becomes yet another thing to let slide. Many Christian parents are paying the price for not teaching their teens truth. Take time with your teens on a regular basis to teach, explain, impart and mold. Consider these years as an investment that will count for eternity.
7. Become convicted.
No, I'm not wanting you to go to jail. I want you to become passionate— to be single-minded as you head toward the goal of seeing your kids firmly rooted in their faith. Families who enjoy spiritual stability are founded on convictions. Convictions include principles, truths, beliefs, parameters and boundaries that are known, understood and accepted by everyone in the family. The convictions of a family are bigger than feelings, are unshaken by circumstances and should be informed by the parent's knowledge of God's Word.
Remember that personal Christian growth and the effective teaching of our teens has little to do with feelings. To lead your family in God's ways, you must be committed to God's Word. Building a Christian family (with God's help, of course), is also an act of the will. Determine right now that above all else, your family will be grounded in God's Word.
For the sake of future Christian generations, make Jesus the Lord of your life. Make Him the leader of your home. View your family interactions as an offering of worship to the Lord, and live out your relationships with your teens as authentically, genuinely and consistently as you can.
I honestly believe that Jesus does not expect great, one-time heroics from us. The Lord blesses (and works through) basic day-to-day fidelity, faithfulness and simple obedience.