How to Pass Your Faith to Your Kids
How to Pass Your Faith to Your Kids
As a parent of 3 young children, I can say with absolute confidence that there is one thing I desire for them more than anything else. One thing that I would give almost anything to see. And it’s for them to follow Jesus. For my children to put their faith in Jesus would be the most significant thing as a parent. Everything else that comes after that is the icing on the cake.
I often struggle with figuring out ways to pass my faith on to my children. But the good news is that it ultimately doesn’t depend on me. I can trust that God is the “author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2), and he is sovereign and good even in the lives of my children. But God has given instruction on things that can be done to pass on your faith to your children. Tim Keller outlined three ways that faith can be passed on to the next generation from Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 6:20-25.
The first is to love God passionately. Deuteronomy 6:5 says, “Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” This means that parents must begin by cherishing God. This means living a life that is consistent with his word and one that reflects not mere obedience but joyful obedience. Our children must see that we delight in God’s commands because we delight in God. Tim Keller writes, “Young people are sensitive to any inconsistency. That is the first reason a younger generation can turn from the faith of an older one.” So if you want to pass on your faith, love God.
The second thing is to impress truths practically. This means to apply the truth of the gospel in everyday life and not merely to lecture them. Deuteronomy 6:7 says, “Repeat them (God’s commands) to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Keller rightly points out that these refer to structuring your life so that your daily routines are centered around the gospel. You are so showing your children how the gospel relates to everyday life like cleaning, praying, attending church. Ground the routines of your family in gospel truths. Otherwise, even your best routines like attending church become exercises of habit. However, if you explain to your children how corporate worship is a response to God showing grace to sinners who were lost, we give them a picture of the gospel as well as a practical outworking of the gospel. Another way is to extend grace to your children. If all we do is speak of grace and never extend it, we are not living as people who have encountered grace.
The third thing is to give testimony personally. Deuteronomy 6:20-25 points out that God’s people were not just told to teach their children God’s commands but also to tell of God’s work in their lives. God instructs parents to tell their sons how they were freed from slavery. This means that parents must have experienced God in their own lives and be able to talk about stories of God’s grace in their own lives. So tell your children how God saved you. Tell God about God’s faithfulness. Tell them how God made a way when there was no way. Tell them how God has blessed you. Tell them how God has been a rock in your life. Tell them how he’s given you so much joy.
So be consistent in your love for God, practically apply the truth of the gospel, and tell stories of God’s grace. Passing on your faith doesn’t require teaching them the great catechisms of the faith, although those formal means do not hurt and can be excellent for teaching your children truth. But these are just a few simple things that can help you pass on your faith to your children.