One of the interesting facets of being pastors is raising kids that love Jesus. We’ve been warned plenty of times about the negative effects that ministry can have on children, but we blissfully ignore those and keep moving forward. Today, as I put my 3rd grade girl in a van to go to Kid’s Conference, I was reflecting on some of the ways we are implementing Christ into our kids. I’ve blogged in this regard before, but I’ll add a few more today.
Here’s some of our foundational parenting tips:
1. It’s gotta be their call. I know that no matter how badly I want my kids to love Jesus, it is ultimately their decision. Sometimes I have to force myself to relax and have real conversations with my kids. A couple of years ago, Delaney said to me, “I’m not sure I believe in Jesus.” Honestly, I wanted to plead with her in that moment to change her 6 year old ways. I could picture myself on my hands and knees with a hankie and some tears. Instead I calmly said, “That’s OK. Let’s talk about why you feel that way…” It opened up lots of conversations, both then and over the next several months. It also proved to her that following Christ is not merely an emotional response, but a well thought out decision as well. Her strongly worded sentence was her way of saying, “Mom, I have some questions.” Christ was never afraid of questions.
2. They will sit in a lot of vans on their way to a lot of camps and conferences. I know what happens at camps and conferences and it’s worth every penny! Being in a pastor’s family is definitely a challenge for kids and teens, so the balance we can give them is to cram all the fun we can into ministry. One of those ways is to take advantage of overnight trips. The kids and youth love them and it partners fun with following Jesus…what could be better!
3. We are more concerned about what we are FOR as a family, rather than what we are AGAINST. We’d rather show them LOVE for people lost in sin rather than be AFRAID of their presence in our church and lives. And we would rather them find FREEDOM in their relationship with Jesus rather than feel CONDEMNED by their own sin. There is a balance to all of this, but the bottom line is we are raising strong, young women with a Biblical foundation. That should not come with a lens of fear, condemnation, and judgmental hearts. If we impart the love of Jesus into their hearts, we can ultimately trust them with the behavior choices that come in the future.
So, that’s what we are trying. I’ll let you know in about 15 years if it worked for us! What I do know is that God is a God of grace and His mercies are new every morning. I know that verse was never more real to me than when I started having kids. I am thankful that God can take the best of what we have to offer and help my kids navigate life and ministry in a positive way!