What’s a parent to do? There’s a crisis around every corner. Measles outbreaks. Scary social media apps. Drugs in candy. Kids caught up in crime. Sex on TV. Violence in video games. Bullies at school.
As I read through my facebook feed tonight while my husband and I watched an episode of Blue Bloods, I saw all of these things addressed in less than an hour. And my soul felt weary. Because sleeping above me, in two bedrooms, are three children that look to me to guide them through this mess and help them arrive safely to adulthood, with faith intact and heart secure.
It can be overwhelming.
So what can we do? One danger that Christian parents can run into is “reacting to” the situation. When this happens, we run the risk of parenting from a place of fear, rather than a place of faith. Dr. Tim Kimmel, found and director of Family Matters, shares that
“if we aren’t careful, the Christian life we teach our kids will end up becoming ‘sin management’ and ‘image control,’ instead of the true work of the cross.”
In other words, we worry more about them doing the right thing and being safe than we do about teaching them the transformative powers of faith in Christ.
Here are some ways we can disciple kids from FAITH and not FEAR:
- Acknowledge the world honestly, MAGNIFY the Lord intentionally – Yes, there are bad things that happen in the world. Hiding the truth from your kids will only make them more inquisitive. Talk to them when they ask about things that are scary BUT don’t focus on the scary thing; intentionally shift your focus to how GREAT God is!
- Walk by FAITH and not by SIGHT – Kids watch what you model. If you make decisions out of fear, that will be the model that they learn to make decisions from. If you model decision-making from a place of faith and seeking God, that’s what they will learn to do as well.
- Be the HANDS and FEET of Christ – We are confronted with the reality of a fallen world on a daily basis. People who are lost, in need, alone. When we become Christ to those people by serving them and sharing hope and life with them, we show our kids that faith conquers fear every time and we model participation on the life of Christ as the way to approach a Christian life.
- PRAY without ceasing – The reality is we cannot protect our kids forever from the results of living in a sinful world. We can parent from faith, we can give them tools for the task, and we can hold their hand for a while, but eventually we have to let go. But, we never have to stop praying, in the morning, at lunch, before bed, while we walk along the road, while we sit in our house. We can always, always pray.
I recently read a blogger (Angela Lakata Cao) who was encouraging us to think outside of our natural instinct to protect and offer our kids the chance to experience things outside their comfort zone. These words challenged me as I hope they will you:
If we are naturally risk averse and then take drastic steps to further avoid uncomfortable people or situations, then how will we reach others for the Gospel? How will my children see beyond these four walls, that there are risks worth taking simply because there is a great Giver who came in the flesh and risked everything
About the author
Christina Embree is wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and family minister at Nicholasville UMC. She is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. Currently studying Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at ChildrensMinistryBlog.com.