Sunday, I attended church with my married daughter, her husband, and my high school-aged daughter who still lives at home with me. Across the nation, my college daughter took an extended lunch from her weekend job to attend Easter service. Scattered in four states, my seven grown children have a relationship with the Lord and attend church because they choose to be involved with a faith-based community. For this mommy, that is the best!
Sunday begs the question – should I, as a parent, influence my children regarding faith matters? Or are all matters related to God personal and best left for children to decide on their own? What is faith?
- the source for hope and purpose in life
- protection against prejudice, hatred, superficial materialism, and agnosticism
- the assurance that each individual has unique value
- the basis for forgiveness and generosity
Is it important to give priority to my child’s spiritual development?
- Spirituality has to do with – well – eternity. That makes it important.
- My child’s spiritual development impacts his character.
- A shared faith is a characteristic of strong families.
- An authentic relationship between my child and me encompasses opportunities to talk about everything – including faith, ethics, morality, and behaviors that stem from beliefs.
- My child naturally has an intrinsic awareness of right, wrong, fairness, and justice. I’ve never had to teach a child to lie, and each one has declared at some point, “That’s not fair.” What makes anything right, wrong, fair, and just is rooted in faith perspectives.
- My child requires gentle instruction in every aspect of life including what those in his world believe, do, don’t do, and why.
- To leave choices in this vital area strictly up to my child to “make his own decision” is confusing for the child.
- As an adult, my child will make faith his own. The ultimate choice belongs to each individual. I can provide truth and experience for my child to confidently make this powerful and eternity-impacting decision when the time to make faith his own naturally arrives.
Children develop in four major categories; physically, emotionally, functionally, and spiritually. Physical development includes healthy habits in nutrition, good hygiene, and nurturing environments. Emotionally, children learn to fully experience and contain their emotions, and speak the truth to themselves and others. Functionality encompasses academics and ongoing life skills that prepare my child to be personally responsible and able to care for others. The fourth important area of growth and development is spiritual.
Involvement in a faith community provides my child and me with resources to tap and people to ask when questions arise. Certainly the critics of religion and church have some valid points. But there is nothing else on the planet we completely jettison from our life merely because it is not perfect.
Research shows that children who grow up in church typically attend church as adults. A faith-based community is the laboratory where we connect and belong, study the Bible, and continue to grow spiritually. Like our nuclear family, our spiritual family is glorious and messy and frustrating and welcoming. I want my children to know that they are invited into God’s eternal family bound together by God’s unconditional love. A Gentleman, God will never force my child’s decision but has made the adoption process simple and inviting. “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved,” (Romans 10:9 NIV).
Scripture asks, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?” (Rom. 10:14 NIV). How indeed, if I have not told them?
I echo John 4:3, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” No matter how many miles separate my grown children and me, our common faith provides relationship glue that keeps us close to the Lord and close to each other. Faith is the vital foundation for our lives. Far from a topic best left for my child, nurturing my child’s faith is this parent’s most important job.
Everything I need to know about the church I learned from Noah’s Ark
One: Don’t miss the boat.
Two: Remember that we are all in the same boat.
Three: Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark.
Four: Stay fit. When you’re six hundred years old, someone may ask you to do something really big.
Five: Don’t listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done.
Six: Build your future on high ground.
Seven: For safety’s sake, travel in pairs.
Eight: Speed isn’t always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs.
Nine: When you’re stressed, float for a while.
Ten: Remember, amateurs built the Ark; professionals built the Titanic.
Eleven: No matter the storm, when you are with God, there’s always a rainbow waiting.
Twelve: It may stink on the ark, but it sure beats the alternative.