I’ve recently been re-reading a book by Reggie Joiner called ‘Think Orange: Imagine the impact when church and family collide’. In it, Reggie includes a list of five things every child needs. I found them quite thought-provoking and helpful in my role as a parent and a leader of children’s ministry. I’d like to share them with you, along with my own thoughts. It’s my hope and prayer that you, too, will be encouraged.
1.A really big God they can trust—no matter what
We want our kids to grow up with a close-up view of God; a God who captures their imaginations. We as the church and their parents need to show them the wonder, mystery, and power of a God who is too big for them to define, yet who has proven through time that He loves them intimately. We want our kids to be captivated by God’s character and grace.
So how do we do that? I think that as parents we need to be real with our kids. Have open and honest conversations. Don’t be afraid to let your children know that you aren’t perfect (they probably already know!). Talk about the times that you’ve struggled to trust God and what you’ve discovered about God’s character through that experience. Tell them of God’s faithfulness, mercy and grace to your family in the past and celebrate that together. Encourage your children to be reading God’s word and praying. Come along to church, Youth Group, and/or Kidz Church so that your kids regularly hear the truth of God’s word.
2.Someone else who believes what they believe
Do you pray for Godly friends for your children? I meet with a Christian friend for prayer each week and this has been a constant prayer point for us over the many years we have been praying together. We pray for good friends for our kids, for children to stand beside our kids who will encourage and help them to make good choices, to stand up for Christ and for others.
And as parents, we can do much to encourage those friendships, too. When we see other children being a good influence on our kids, encourage that friendship – have them over for a play after school, get to know their family, provide opportunities for your child to spend time with them. Do what you can to make that friendship blossom.
Children are so easily influenced and swayed by their peers, especially in the teen years. We want our friends to be surrounded by like-minded children who share common values and who will support each other when life gets tough, and their faith is put on the line.
3.Another voice saying the same things parents say
Do your children have other adults (apart from you) in their life they can look up to? Do they spend time with Godly adults who influence them for good? When our kids are small, we as parents are their whole world. We lead and they follow (well, mostly). Small children quite happily believe what their parents tell them and take on their parents’ values and beliefs willingly. But as they grow, they begin to test those beliefs for themselves and they often look to those around them in doing so. They look to their peers, and also to the adults in their lives.
For this reason, it is so very important that our children have other adults in their lives as spiritual mentors and leaders. We want our children to have other adults in their world who are saying the same things that we as parents are saying. Often a teen who does not want to speak with Mum or Dad about an issue may be quite open with another trusted adult. And as that adult listens and shares, our child again hears the message that God loves them and has a good plan for their life.
We have amazing Children and Youth Ministry leaders here at BPCC, adults who care about your kids and want to come alongside you as parents to guide your children in their journey of faith. Why not get your kids connected?
By the way, having Godly adults in your children’s lives does not replace your role as the parents. More on that later.
4.Uncommon sense to help them make wise choices
Children are bombarded with messages telling them what to think and how to act and what is right or wrong. There is so much pressure from peers and media to conform to worldly views and ideas. And that’s tough for kids to navigate.
We want our children to know God and His truth so well that it acts as the filter for how they view life and make decisions. We want them to be bold and to make wise choices that flow from a deep trust in a good God. I often pray for my own children that God’s voice would be louder in their hearts and heads than the voices around them.
5.Nosy parents who know where their kids are spiritually
Kids need parents who will be intentional about spending time together as a family and staying actively involved in their children’s spiritual growth. It’s not enough to send your children to a Christian school, or to Youth Group, or to Kidz Church. There will never be a teacher or ministry leader who will have as much potential to observe what is happening in your child’s life as you, the parent. You are in a unique position to answer questions about where your child is at spiritually and give the guidance needed. The reason for that is simple —time. At Kidz Church we may have 40 hours in a given year to influence your child. The average parent has 3,000 hours per year to influence the life of their child.
No one has more potential to influence your child’s relationship with God than you as parents. That’s a very humbling thought. And let’s be honest, sometimes we are disappointed in ourselves as parents, and feel we fall very short of perfect. But let me encourage you — your role is not to impress your children or anyone else with your ability to parent. Your role is to impress on your children the love and character of God. Don’t ever buy into the myth that you need to become the ‘right’ kind of parent before God can use you in your children’s lives.
May God bless you in your parenting journey.