Last week, I began a new series detailing how our children are always watching and learning from us. In The Video Camera is Always On Part 1, I listed some areas where our kids are watching to see how we react to situations and circumstances. They watch how we live our lives, the choices we make, and whether or not our words align with our actions.
Today, I will be expounding on the fact that our kids are watching our faith. And not only are they watching our faith, they are mimicking it. Even at a young age.
One day several years ago, I noticed my youngest daughter Doodle was sitting on the floor with her little red New Testament Gideon Bible reading to her baby dolls, one in her lap, and the rest of the dolls lined up on the toy couch. While at her young age, Doodle couldn’t yet read, she had memorized Bible passages and reiterated them as she snuggled her “babies”.
Gratitude and humility coursed through me because, as every mom knows, we don’t do things perfectly. Or even well at times. Raising children is a challenging, but wonderful job, and we need God’s help every step of the way. And by the grace of God, I was teaching my daughter the importance of not only reading her Bible, but reading it to her “children”.
Our kids are watching our faith, or lack thereof. They are watching to see where we spend the majority of our time. Do we choose to spend any of it studying God’s Word? Or is He an afterthought? Do we disciple our kids and teach them about Jesus? Read to them from their Bibles? Is God the main focus in our home?
Life is busy, to be sure, and it’s not uncommon for us to run out of hours in the day with a leftover to-do list a mile long by the time we plop into beds far later than we anticipated. But these are valid questions we, as parents, must ask ourselves to be sure we are emulating Godly behavior to our children.
It is critical for us to let our children see our walk with the Lord. We must give our children Christlike habits to mimic. And no, we won’t do it perfectly and we will make mistakes, and there will be days when, much to our disappointment, we look more like the world than we do our Savior. But with His help, we can endeavor to show our kids the meaning of a life surrendered to – and lived for – Jesus.
Do they see that spending time with the Lord is very important to us? Do they witness our reliance on God when things are tough? Our gratitude when a prayer is answered? Do they accompany us to church? Is church a regular occurrence or an event we only attend on Easter and Christmas? Do they see us display an active prayer life? Do they see us worshiping and loving the One who gave His life for us?
From the time my girls were babies, we attended church. They knew that this was a major part of our lives. Many times, they didn’t want to go to the nursery or to children’s church, and I never insisted they go. Instead, we brought along our “Nanie bag”, a homemade bookbag made by my grandma (their great-grandma) Nanie, that carried designated items used only for church.
Crayons, a notebook, snacks, and a few special toys that encouraged their imaginations (quiet toys, such as baby dolls or stuffed animals to be respectful of others), toys they played with only at church. As long as they were not being disruptive, they stayed with me in the pews. I never demanded they refrain from uttering a peep. Church isn’t for the “perfectly quiet” people. It’s for sinners like me and God doesn’t demand we do it flawlessly. While the girls knew they could play with their toys, they understood that they needed to be respectful.
As our children get older, we need to teach them that Jesus is the only way (John 14:6), that salvation is through Jesus alone (Acts 4:12), and that His Word is the only truth meter we have. It is the only thing we can measure everything against. God and His Word are the only things that will never change.
If we don’t teach our children the Truth, the world will vie for their attention and endeavor to teach them otherwise. We must remain steadfast.
But all the words and all the reading and all the worshipping means nothing if we aren’t living what we preach. Actions are profound, and we can be sure those little eyes aren’t missing a thing.
When our children are teens, the foundation will have been set. Not to say that all hope is lost if we haven’t been able to give them a godly start. No matter what age and stage our children are in, it’s never too late to model our faith. And because teens can bring their own unique set of circumstances due to their ages and the pressures they face everyday in our secular culture, we can enlist the assistance of trusted godly mentors, along with plentiful prayer, to help our teens get on the right track. God wants us to rely on Him in every facet of our lives, even discipling an unbelieving teen.
No matter the age of our kids, we must make modeling our faith to our children and laying a foundation in Christ within our children’s hearts and lives a top priority. God’s grace is sufficient, even in our most inadequate moments, of which there will be many. And He is there to help us every step of the way and every moment that video camera is on.
Before you go, check out these other posts:
the video camera is always on, part one
8 things I want my daughters to know
how to build close bonds with your kids
14 things for girls to consider before dating