As the father of eight children, I understand the desire to see all of one’s children come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ – and it is tempting to “push the process along.” But sometimes, we can be too eager and push our children into words and actions that have more to do with our desires than the Spirit’s work in their lives.
The Evangelist & The Skeptic
Skeptic: I just saw one of your converts facedown drunk in the street.
Evangelist: Drunk, did you say? Facedown in the street? Well then, he was definitely one of mine. The Lord’s converts forsake their sin.
When we strive to get our children to “pray the prayer” we risk making them our converts, rather than allowing God to make them His. How young is too young? God knows. True conversion is a work of the Spirit, not a work of the parent’s will.
When the Spirit moves in the heart of a child, it is obvious something supernatural is taking place. We need only to be faithful beforehand and ready in the moment to be used of the Lord at the appointed time.
Here are some practical suggestions in preparing the soil of your child’s heart.
1) Recognize God’s timing is at work in the life of your child. In John 3:8, the Word describes the Spirit as being like the wind. We don’t need to be anxious or in a hurry when it comes to our children’s pilgrimage to the foot of the Cross. We need to be obedient and purposeful in how we are living and representing God to our children. God is at work. Rest in this truth.
2) Teach your kids the 10 commandments. In Galatians 3:2, they are called, “Our schoolmaster . . . unto Christ.” The Moral Law of God will speak to the awakened conscience and help kids to see they are sinners who cannot be righteous in and of themselves.
3) Read the Bible regularly with your family. The Word says, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17). Modeling Truth is not enough. Our kids need to hear the authoritative Word and that only happens in the lives of young children when parents make the Word a priority in daily life.
4) Teach your Children the Gospel – the Good News of God’s offer of mercy and grace through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Because the phrases “good news” and “the Gospel” are familiar to Christian parents, it’s easy to assume our children know what they are and mean. Over the course of 11 years as a pastor/teaching elder, I have seen many cases of kids from Christian homes who were familiar with these phrases but didn’t now what they actually meant. Ask your kids, “What is ‘The Gospel’ or ‘The Good News’ of Jesus?” My children are from 8 – 21 years of age. If you’re like Lisa and me and have a wide spread of ages, it’s natural to think everyone “gets it.” Trust me, they don’t! Four days ago, I asked our youngest this question and found out . . . I have more work to do!
5) Do your job (Deut. 6) and let God do His! It’s good to be reminded (and a great relief!) that it is not our job as parents to convict children of their sin. That’s the Holy Spirit’s job, Who is in the world, convicting men of sin, righteousness, and judgment to come (John 16:8). A parent’s job is to speak often, throughout the day, of the Lord – what He is like, what He does, how much He loves us, to fear Him, etc.,
6) Don’t be a hypocrite. When our kids see there is no difference between what we are teaching them and how we live, our words and life have power. Can you say with sincerity to your kids, “Follow my example?” When there is a difference between words and example, acknowledge it to God and to your kids, ask for forgiveness from God and from your kids, and then change before God and before your kids.
Can you say with sincerity to your kids, “Follow my example?”
7) Pray that your child’s heart be awakened to the things of God, and listen to the Holy Spirit for His timing in speaking to the heart of your child. Think of it like this – you’re constructing a building, brick by brick (precept upon precept as you sit/stand/walk, in the manner of Deut. 6) not putting out a blazing fire so, don’t use a fire hose and drown your child in volumes of facts, information, and knowledge he/she isn’t yet ready for.
8) Again, Rest in God’s timing. Your children are on a pilgrimage – just like you and me. And, where were we years ago, as young children? We have seen His faithfulness in our lives. Does He love your children any less? He is faithful and He is good.
Leading our children to Jesus can seem like a huge challenge but, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31. And, God is for you in this endeavor! 2 Peter 3:9 says “ . . . He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
This is God’s desire for your children. He is with you in this pilgrimage.
Matt Jacobson is a biblical marriage coach, founder of FaithfulMan.com a biblical marriage, parenting, and discipleship ministry providing written and audio teaching, as well as couples marriage coaching. He is also the creator of FREEDOM Course, an 8 session class, including a workbook, where he teaches men the biblical path to finding total victory from pornography and sexual sin. He is the co-host (with his wife, Lisa) of Faithful Life Podcast and is author of the bestseller, 100 Ways to Love Your Wife. Matt is pastor of Cline Falls Bible Fellowship and is married to Lisa, founder of Club31Women.com (they have 8 kids!).