Leave a Legacy of Faith: My children are still serving God today. I’ll tell you why.
The No. 1 concern of Christian parents is, “Will my children stay true to the Christian faith?” Statistically speaking, the odds are against us: Eighty percent of children growing up in evangelical homes will stop attending church by the end of their senior year in high school.
By God’s grace, I have two grown children who are still walking with the Lord. Let me tell you why.
Of course, the spiritual and ultimate answer is the sovereign grace and mercy of a good and holy God who answers prayer. Practically speaking, my wife, Patsy, and I added a few things that, looking back, seem to have helped.
As a dad, I decided early on that no amount of success at work would ever compensate for failure at home. So I made some hard decisions:
1: I decided not to work past 6 p.m., on weekends or to take work home. This was tough because I love to work.
2:I gave myself to my children from the time I got home until they went to bed. Well, almost from the time I got home. First, I would take 15 minutes to change clothes, wash the grease off my face, look at the mail and see what kind of day Patsy was having.
When my kids were young, we played board games–endless repetitions of Chutes and Ladders and mind-numbing rounds of Candy Land–both of which require the IQ of a goldfish. When they were older, I attended all of their sports and activities.
3:When they didn’t really want to have dad as their “friend” anymore, I started dating them. Each week I took one child to dinner, the next week the other one. They genuinely looked forward to the special time with dad.
4:Patsy and I both made a point of telling each child, “I love you, and I’m proud of you” every day. Sometimes, when you’re mad enough to unscrew their heads, I’ll admit it can be hard to find anything worth praising.
5:We had regular family devotions. During the school year, but not summer, we took 15 minutes before school three or four mornings a week.
Usually I would tell a relevant story or quote, read a Bible verse, then relate them together. I set an alarm so they could relax that I wouldn’t make them late for school.
6:We paid our children to do daily devotions. We told them, “If you will do a daily devotion for at least 25 days each month, we’ll buy you a CD.” They said, “That’s nice, dad.”
“That’s not all,” we added. “In addition, if you do your devotions at least 25 days each month for 10 out of 12 months we’ll pay you $250. You can miss any two months and still get paid.” Their eyes popped open.
“But that’s not all. If you will do your devotions all 12 months in a row we’ll double the amount and pay you $500. And you still only have to do 25 days a month.”
You may be thinking to yourself, That sounds like a bribe. Here’s what I can tell you: My kids did regular devotions all through high school, few of their friends did, and one year they said, “Mom and dad, you don’t have to pay us. We’re going to be doing this anyway.” And, they still do devotions now. In fact, they both teach Bible studies.
7:We made our children go to church. Many parents ask, “Should we force our children to go to church if they don’t want to go?” This can best be answered by another question, “Should we force our children to go to school if they don’t want to go?”
8:We ate dinner together as a family. And there were compromises. Sometimes we had to eat early. Sometimes we had to eat late. Sometimes we had to eat at Burger King.
9:We prayed for our children every day. Patsy and I realized that we were probably the only people in the whole wide world who would be willing to pray for our children on a daily basis.
10:We did everything we could to lead our children to faith in Jesus Christ. We shared how to receive Christ at the appropriate time–which means we had to learn how to effectively share our faith.
I concluded that if I didn’t have enough time for my kids, I could be 100 percent certain that I was not following God’s will for my life. Men, let’s give time to whom time is due. NM