The Key to Raising Kids Who Keep Their Faith

The story of our family - A Rooted Home

Growing up in our church, there was a boy who so openly displayed his faith, it was quite admirable to witness. On Good Friday, he would be up on the cross unwavering in his very real portrayal of Jesus’ final moments. On Christmas Eve, he would be in the manger in a protective stance over the Christ child. In between, he could be found reading, singing, and helping lead youth group. His openness was opposite to my private and quiet faith. I was often in awe of his vulnerability and outward display of his love for God.

Several years have gone by since then, and through the grapevine of childhood friends I heard about how much he had changed. Not only did he no longer practice the faith, he had become an atheist. After the initial shock, I felt let down in some strange way. We all thought if anyone was going to keep the faith, it would have been him. His faith made faith itself more real and tangible to us. I couldn’t help but wonder what happened. 

I didn’t think about him again until many more years later when I became a mom. My plan was to be intentional about guiding my children in growing a relationship with God. But there was this nagging feeling about this boy so full of faith I once knew. I understand now that the outward appearance of faith doesn’t always signal an everlasting faith, and I personally know the wrestling of faith. But I also can infer there is likely much more to the story than I am privy to. 

It is a humbling moment to think as parents we can do all the “right” things—praying together, talking about God, reading our bibles, going to church, welcoming the many questions our kids have, and still not have the outcome we hope and pray for. I want to make sure I’m talking all the right steps to raise children who not only know and love God, but have a deep and lasting relationship with Him. But if I am being completely transparent, what I would like most is some sort of assurance that if I do A, B, C all the way to Z, I will get this desired outcome. I want to know for sure. I want a guarantee. 

We pray, we give our best and we want to know it all matters in the end. It’s like planting seeds from an unlabeled package, not knowing when or what kind of harvest there will be. We water, we feed, we uproot the weeds that threaten, but only God knows the outcome. And we’re just not used to that way of life. We’re conditioned to a life of knowing. 

But the way of the cross was never a contract. It has always been a collaboration, a communion, a relationship. There is no magical key to our kids keeping their faith, because their faith is personal. Their faith is their own. They will have to traverse all of the terrain in all of the seasons on their journey. They will experience the gutting pain of setbacks, heartache and rejection as they will feel the glorious elation of goals reached and dreams realized. 

Still, we have a life-changing promise to hold onto, but not because of anything we do, it’s because of everything He is. So we can take our concerns straight to the throne. As Ephesians 3:12 tell us, “in Him and through faith in Him we may enter God’s presence with boldness and confidence.” We pray, we give our best and we have to release the rest. Sure it sounds simple, but we know better. 

The not knowing requires grit and patience. There will be moments that bring us to our knees in both prayer and pleading. If we want to leave a legacy of faith for our children and theirs, then we must be ready to get our hands dirty. We must stay in the fight with an unwavering faith of our own. We must extend grace when our hearts are bruised and beat up. Because in the end we can’t make our kids love God, we can only show them God’s love. And pray, always.

Prayer and endurance are the true keys. We can’t give up when it gets hard and messy, when we doubt our kids, ourselves, and even more, our parenting. Even when we doubt God. When we cry out to Him, those moments are almost always followed by a kind grace—a teacher calls with praise, a friend shares encouragement, or, in the most generous moment, our child experiences a transformation through the Holy Spirit at work in their own heart. They see grace, mercy and forgiveness first hand. 

We may not know how this all turns out, but still we plant and still we pray. We stay encouraged by the incredible women who have kept the faith for years. We embrace a God who keeps His heart and arms always open, always glimpsing at the horizon for His prodigals, ready to rejoice. A hope I still hold for the boy I once knew. A hope I hold for all of His children.

Download our free devotional to help your kids know whose they are, no matter where they go. 

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