Ask Chuck: Stewarding The Gospel With Your Children
I have 3 kids and they’re all getting to ages where we have more spiritual discussions. They seem to pay attention to everything I do, say everything I say, and question everything. “Why” seems to be my three-year-olds favorite word. How do I start sharing the Gospel with them at such a young age? It seems that, just like money, we need to steward the Good News as well. Any advice?
Parenting for Christ
Dear Parenting for Christ,
What a wonderful question! And one that believers should be motivated to act on with urgency and love. Christian parents desire to see their children walking in the Truth and living out a life of faith. But it requires diligence to set this example, and their faith is ultimately their decision. It is God who completes His work in the lives of our loved ones. We must be faithful to do our part and trust Him to do His.
There are things my wife, Ann, and I did right and things we did wrong when raising our four boys. We’ve celebrated victories and suffered setbacks in parenting. We are far from the example to be admired or followed. But we continue to trust God, praising Him, yet constantly asking Him to work in us and in them and to make us better parents. Since our children range from ages 17 to 35, we have had lots of opportunities to learn and grow.
Parent With Love
We must parent in love, remembering God’s kindness and mercy to us, along with all the characteristics of love found in 1 Corinthians 13. We are stewards of what God has revealed to us through His Word and through our experiences in the body of Christ. We are totally dependent upon His grace. Like Paul, we desire that they guard the truth and walk in it.
Children need to see and experience God’s love in action. The Good News is life-giving – not a set of rules and behavior that must pass inspection. If we don’t understand the difference we will provoke our children and create expectations that they cannot achieve.
Raise Adults, Not Children
Nurturing your children is a delicate balance and the equation for each will probably be different. Consider the conditions that plants need to grow. If we over-fertilize we can damage them as much as if we were to neglect them. We cannot force a seedling to bear fruit. It takes time and the God-given necessities of sun and water. Our children, likewise, need lots of time and nourishment.
As parents, we should focus on raising our children to be God-fearing, faithful stewards. You’re really raising adults, not children! The Gospel grants us the ability to honor them as image-bearers and recognize that maturity will come. So, we cling to the directives given by Moses, humbly abiding in Christ’s love, to effectively minister in the lives of our family members.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. (Deuteronomy 6:4-7 ESV)
Let me suggest a few dos and don’ts that we’ve learned through the years.
- Have regular family worship and make it enjoyable. Sing, pray, read the Bible aloud, letting the children take turns reading as soon as they can, give thanks and memorize scripture together. You can invite family friends to participate and join when possible.
- Practice hospitality by hosting small groups, fellowships, and dinners so your children witness joy in the body of Christ.
- Give time and money to the church, the poor, widows and organizations that are Gospel-centered and effectively helping others. Model looking to serve the needs of others.
- Live humbly and gratefully.
- Do not overindulge. Children benefit from having fewer toys.
- Encourage them to give of their own belongings and money.
- Emphasize the heart behind the action, not the action by itself.
- Praise and affirm often.
- Regularly pray blessings over them.
- Lead by example.
- Have fun and laugh a lot!
- Neglect your responsibility to teach your children the Word of God. Their Christian school, church, small groups, friends, and mentors should be reinforcements of the principles you’ve already taught them.
- Criticize or use sarcasm.
- Discipline in anger.
- Be demanding. Instead, encourage in love.
- Discourage questions (especially the really tough ones!).
- Talk about, gossip or criticize their siblings (or others) in front of them.
- Express disgust or embarrassment in word or action.
- Forget they are tender shoots who desperately want your approval and need your love in a harsh world (even when they act like they don’t).
- Set up rules that are impossible to follow and destroy love, mercy, and grace.
- Be overly righteous and pious about your faith. Growth and maturity may involve pain and hard lessons.
Pray For Your Children
Thank God for each child – challenging and quirky as they may be. He has entrusted them to your care and does not expect you to do it on your own. He will never leave you or forsake you!
Ask God to protect them from the enemy, to grant them discernment, to stand firm and love what He loves and hate what He hates. Remember that God ultimately draws them unto Himself.
Pray for your own endurance. Parenting isn’t easy! And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9 ESV)
My hope is that parents faithfully raise young men and women to stand in this world as Daniel and his friends did. Pray for children who are …skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace (Daniel 1:4) May they be like …men of Issachar, who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do… (1 Chronicles 12:32).
If you are looking for more practical help, I’d recommend our MoneyWise Kids book. It will give you the tools to talk about and teach biblical financial principles to your children.
Originally published on the Christian Post, August 17, 2018.