Be careful, or your kids might take your Christianity a little too seriously.
We pass down some Christian basics to our kids from the time we can pass them the milk.
- Tell the truth, God doesn’t like liars.
- Obey your parents, and it will go well with you.
- Blessed are the peacemakers.
- God loves a cheerful giver.
- Forgive, and forgive again.
- Love others, don’t hate.
- Honor your father and mother–a handy recurring theme.
But there are some of Jesus’ sayings that you’ll want to keep out of your family devotionals. His teachings have the potential to disrupt the plans you have for your family’s future—if your kids take them seriously.
- “You cannot serve both God and money.” Matthew 6:24
- “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sister or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.” Matthew 19:28
- “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations.” Matthew 28:19
We all desire for our kids to know God’s love and love others. But you might want to ask yourself if you are willing for them to take Him seriously, because there are some risks with Christianity. Jesus’ life, after all, was quite scandalous.
They might love God more than they love their parents, their house, or the family business. They might pursue kingdom living with more fervor than the American dream of success. And after all the years of helping them be first chair, first string, and first in class, they may choose last for a change. Then they might actually go, when we’d rather them stay.
Suddenly their faith decisions challenge our own faith. They become the teachers and send us down a road of reflection. And it’s hard work.
It’s hard for the obvious–because we love our kids and would rather them be close enough to share life with. It’s the not so obvious reasons that invite us into reflection about taking Christianity seriously ourselves…
- We want our kids to be successful, and we don’t realize how much we’ve let the culture, instead of God, define success.
- It’s hard because we focus on the now, and forget about eternal.
- It’s hard because we don’t realize how much our ego leans on our kids’ accomplishments—we’re more comfortable with our kids being first than last.
- And after telling our kids for so many years not to be afraid, we have to admit that we are afraid too.
I’ve participated in this unfolding story in a few contexts. My husband and I decided to go instead of stay. I told my Dad that I would not continue working with him in his financial planning business, and my husband tried to explain to his parents why he wasn’t taking an offer to buy into the veterinarian clinic.
We currently train mission teams, so I’ve watched many young adults who take their Christianity seriously yearn for their parents to bless them through some tough decisions to quit jobs and go.
And now, on the parent side, some of my own kids send me down the road of reflection as I watch them pursue kingdom living more than the American dream. I respect the journey of both the kids and parents, aware that neither is easy.
So if somewhere along the way your kids discover those verses you’ve kept out of the family devotionals and they begin to take their Christianity seriously, maybe it’s an invitation for you do to the same.
1.Embark on the spiritual journey with them. If you are like me, this won’t be the first time that parenting pushes you to pray more, loosen your grip and surrender to God.
2.Give yourself permission to feel sad and worried. And express it—but not laced with a manipulative guilt trip to change their mind. Just because they’re doing God’s work doesn’t mean you can’t be sad that they’ll be too far for a weekend visit. And you can be sure that they will be sad to miss out on those times as well.
3. Ask a lot of questions so you understand their journey. The more you know, the more you will be able to support them. And the more you know, the less you’ll fear.
4. Give them your blessing. Your kids will be busy training with their coworkers, applying for visas, having garage sales and learning a new language. But it will be most important for them to leave with your blessing for the journey (The Blessing).
5. Be grateful. Our greatest desire is that our kids take Jesus seriously. So amidst all the conflicted feelings of farewells (“Conflicted” – saying farewell to missionaries), choose gratefulness.
I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that Christianity, if taken too seriously, demands surrender and sacrifice. And when our kids surrender, it’s an invitation for us to surrender too. I pray that you will join your kids’ journey to learn from each other what it means to take Christ seriously.
Share your comments to add to this list for parents with kids taking God seriously and moving into missions.