Sharing Jesus with our teens may be scarier and harder than sharing Him with strangers. With strangers we know they have free will and they are their own person and they can do whatever they decide with the message you tell them. With our kids our faith can easily feel forced and it’s hard to strike that balance. With strangers there is no history with you clouding the purity of your message. With our kids there is a laundry list of past mistakes, hurts, and grievances which can make it slow for them to accept our faith and make us hesitant to share because of shame. And with strangers we love them with the level of agape love that Jesus gives us for them, but with our kids there is a lot of other kinds of love and intense soul ties and bonds which make us much more likely to be emotionally hijacked by their response to our faith message. Once we start responding to their faith journey emotionally we tend to make good intentioned mistakes which usually serve to push them away from God more than draw them. Ultimately with strangers we hope they accept Jesus but we are ready for the negative reaction we are likely to get, but with our kids we feel there can be no alternative and we feel pressured to pressure them into the security of a prayer of salvation.
Passing on faith to our kids should be much more natural and automatic than with strangers. With our kids we have the every day life encounters that make it almost unnecessary for us to say anything preachy – we just live out an example in front of them. They are our most attentive audience, even if it doesn’t seem like it. So as you live out your faith in front of your kids, keep this in mind:
- Make sure you are living out relationship more than religion. When you pray make sure you are being natural and somewhat informal. Favor words and language that does not feel alien to your normal way of talking. Avoid making them feel that God is “foreign” and unknowable or that you have to put on an act to talk to Him. Avoid compartmentalizing your religion to certain situations, rather live out a relationship where God is always with you and in the forefront of your mind and motives.
- Praying at mealtimes is less important than praying in odd times
- Give God a chance to show Himself to your child by praying in specific ways for things that matter to them. Let them discover ways he answers those prayers, don’t point it out to them.
- Let your kids see you seek God in prayer, worship, and in the Bible.
We do not want to just pass on a religious list of rules to keep. We want to pass on a relationship. Obviously, this requires that we have a relationship first. This is one of many areas where if we focus on taking care of our own self, it’s more likely to impact our kids better than us trying to focus on their stuff.