We live in a world where people have different spiritual views, many have turned away from God. So how do we prepare our children to be a light in the world, to show love, while still keeping a holy life? Here are some thoughts.
I believe that since my job is to prepare my children to be adults in the world, shining a light for Christ, I need to show them how to handle the world. This means I do not “hide” them from the “evils” of this world. However, I also do not throw them into it and say “good luck”. If you have read through many of my articles, I am very intentional about the books we read, people we interact with, shows we watch etc.
What I Do
I believe a solid foundation starts with a strong spiritual foundation at home. We talk about sin, what sin is, what people might do that is a sin. We focus on age appropriate sins–sins they may encounter. Much of this comes up organically, but I don’t hold back when the topic comes up, I say what the truth is, I do not try to make “everyone feel happy”, because sin is sin and the result without Christ is death, this is a SERIOUS matter.
One day my daughter said something about how a mommy cannot having a baby before being married, so she was confused about a person she had encountered. I clarified that a woman can have a baby without being married, however God designed a family to have a mom and dad that are married, and then children after marriage. To have a child before you are married is a result of sin. Some people may think this will spread hate. The “they are sinners, I am not” mentality. but I do not leave it there. My children know that we all sin, they sin, I sin, daddy sins, we all do, and that is why Christ came to the earth to die for us. He came as a perfect sacrifice to forgive our sins, so that we may live a holy and righteous life if we choose to follow him. We talk about how we can pray for the person in the discussion, and we pray that they will turn their heart to God.
Encountering Different Beliefs
We talk about what we believe and how it might be different than others. Before my daughter started school, I told her there would be people at her school that did not believe God was real. They choose not to follow God. I did not want her to be ignorant to this fact. We talk about praying for those who do not believe the truth of God and how we can love them.
As she has asks us for different things (i.e. an elf on the shelf). We explained to her why this item or practice does not fit with what God has called us to do. In this particular circumstance, she listened, and then said, “if it distracts me from God, then I don’t want it.” When a practice she encounters is a sin, we identify that; if it is not a sin, just different from our family, we tell her that as well.
Teach Them Why
When we state a rule or expectation in our family, it is not left at that. It is followed by why.
- Why would we not hit? Because Ephesians 4:32 tells us to be kind and compassionate to one another.
- Why would I let others go first or give them the last cookie? Because God calls us to love others, putting them before ourselves
- Why would I tell them who Jesus us? Because God calls us to be a light
This prepares our children to think on their own. Hopefully in the future they will think: “should I do this or not? Is it kind, is it loving, am I being a light for Christ?” and then they can then choose to follow God or not, rather than just to follow mom and dad’s rules.
God calls us to be holy, like he is holy. This is to be set apart, different. This is why we choose to follow God and not partake in the sin of the world. We can still love the people God created and be holy.
I believe by allowing our children to experience the world and coach them through their experiences, they will be prepared to one day encounter the world on their own. When they are adults (or even teens/pre-teens/children) they will face challenges and decisions that are new, they will have to choose to follow God or follow the world and we will not be there to help them. They will have to determine how to follow God while living in the World, how to be a light in the face of temptation. I want to help them now, while they are young and learning and under my care, to prepare for those future times, when the decision is bigger than what they are choosing today, when the decision is life altering.