My faith is important to me and naturally, is something I want to share with others, including my sons. I am careful and prayerful in my approach, and trust in God’s love for and pursuit of my sons.
As a follower of Christ and as a minister my desire is for my sons to have an intimate relationship with Jesus. Their own faith, not mine. My other desire is that I won’t mess them up too much in my endeavors.
During a conversation today, the topic of pastor’s kids who struggle in life or walk away from the faith came up. I’m aware of this reality and because I am aware of this reality I have made some decisions, right or wrong, for my family. I also understand full well that I cannot force my faith on to my children, but I can do my best at following Christ, journey with my sons, and point them to God.
Here are some of the decisions I have made that may or may not help guide the faith of my children.
1) While some “church” activities are optional, worship is not. We attend worship together as a family, and my prayer is that in this setting they will commune with Christ and experience the power and ministry of the Holy Spirit. I hope this time will deepen their interest and relationship in Christ. In worship my sons have always participated as members of the congregation. No technology to entertain them. We have always had the expectation that they needed to experience worship in their own way, within their ability, and with their giftedness.
2) Some other “church” activities are optional.
3) We pray together as a family. We pray at meals. We pray at bedtime. We pray at other times as prayer is needed.
4) We have lots of conversations about faith and following Jesus. In these conversations Heidi, my wife and I, try to be as real, open, and authentic as we can be. We share what we believe, we share why, we share our struggles, we include Scripture, we share our experiences, and we share our hopes and dreams.
5) We make Bible’s available to our sons. They all have one. They all know how to read.
6) I pray for my sons. I haven’t read a lot of parenting books, but one of them I read had to do with the importance of parent’s praying for their children. Praying for your children is important.
7) The other parenting book I read had something to do with the importance of and ways to worship at home. This is important as well and we have done this by singing songs, reading stories, reading the Bible, praying, and having conversations.
8) We involve them in opportunities to reach out and minister to others. One of the best ways to teach our children to love and follow our faith, in my case a relationship with Jesus Christ, is to engage them in reaching out to others. When we do this, with our sons engaged in the ministry endeavor with us, we have opportunity share our reasons for helping others as followers of Jesus.
There might be other things, but these are the ones that come to mind at the moment. Some of the rest may just happen during the normal routine of life.
Speaking of routine, my oldest son Samuel likes routine. The label is “Autism Spectrum,” and like all of us Samuel is a unique child of God who has a story to live out and important things to share with the rest of us. Anyway, Samuel likes routine. After worship on Sunday, Samuel rides home with me. Heidi, and the other two boys head home, and Samuel helps me lock up the church building. He gets the lights, I lock the doors, and then we head out to my SUV (Semi-Useful Van) for the ride home. Sometimes, like today, we have other jobs to do, and he helps me with those as well. Today we changed the church sign before we went home.
Once we get in the SUV our routine continues. We get in and buckle up, I turn the car on and back up into the main section of the parking lot, and Samuel turns on the radio and adjusts the setting to his favorite Country Music station 92.3 FM. Then I put the gas pedal through the floor and we make the gravel and dust fly as we leave the parking lot of the church building. I don’t know if he feels the same way, but this ritual is one of the highlights of my week.
At the moment, these things work for us. Some have been in existence for a while and some have changed over time. As parents, raising the children God entrusted to our care, we trust that God is helping us along the way, and will guide us to make changes in our approach when change is necessary. For now, we carry on, and I encourage you to do the same.