People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Luke 18:15–16
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4
Dads, sometimes we need to remind ourselves that if we get more excited about our kids making a 3-pointer, scoring a goal, or getting excellent grades than we do about them taking steps of faith…then it’s time to readjust our priorities. Of course, we still want to encourage all the other achievements, but we need to help our kids develop a love for Jesus.
Becoming a godly dad while you are in the hectic years of raising your kids is a challenge for sure. Maybe it’s a little bit like building a jet airplane – while it’s in flight! There’s no time to pause and wait until you figure it out. Parenting grants few breaks. Your kids will always need you. Maybe in different ways in different seasons, but they always need you.
They also need you in a spiritual sense — to point the way to Christ.
In the Gospels, there’s a story of a brave dad named Jairus who sought for Jesus to save his dying daughter and was quite persistent in his faith, and although she died, she was healed in the end (Mark 5:21-43). Dads, it’s our job to bring our kids to Jesus, and there are practical things we can do right now that will make a difference.
Here are 5 Ways to Help Your Kids Love Jesus:
1. Pray for them and with them.
We must never stop praying for our kids (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18). The necessity of prayer can be compared to the necessity of train tracks that must be laid before a train can function for what it was built for and complete its journeys. When you pray for your child, you are laying out some train tracks ahead of them (spiritually) for their life to run on. Prayer prepares them for what they do next in life and invites God into the journey.
We must also take time to pray with our kids. Teach your kids to pray, whether at meals, at bedtime, or anytime they face life’s challenges (Philippians 4:6-7, Hebrews 4:16).
2. Read them Bible stories when they are young.
Every dad should aim to become a master storyteller with their young children. Many Bible storybooks are available that include all the great stories of Scripture. Or, if you prefer, you can read them directly from the Bible yourself. Add some sound effects and voices to make it come alive and leave time at the end for the questions that will inevitably come. You can then help them apply the story directly to their young life.
3. Take them to church, church camps, and church events.
Yes, this will require a commitment, and yes, it will and should cost you money. Kids will learn to value what you value. Do you have a favourite sports team? It won’t be hard to pass that on to them. What about your favourite food or favourite pastimes? Your kids usually want to like what you like. For a window of time, you get to take them to church each weekend, no questions asked. Take advantage of that time and help them learn about Jesus firsthand, how to worship Him, and how to function and serve with others in a church community.
4. Model the love of God in front of them.
This could be the toughest one on our list. To model anything means you must try it out and test it for yourself first. Like it or not, your kids will have a front-row seat to your win/loss record in life. Your kids watch you to see who you turn to when you need help in a crisis and who you give credit to when life is good. Your faith can’t stay private and hidden, especially when you have children. They need to see your faith in action.
5. Make sure you love Jesus yourself.
If you are going to show your kids how to love Jesus, the most important thing you can do is be authentic. Jesus rebuked the church at Ephesus (comprised partially of Christian men, of course) because they had “abandoned the love they had at first” (Revelation 2:1-7). Jesus then exhorted the Ephesians to repent and redo their actions when they started walking with Jesus. It’s possible to drift into a faux Christianity where you still subscribe to the idea of Jesus, but you cease making it personal. Kids can see right through this eventually.
Be real with Jesus; then it will be easier to be real with your kids about Jesus.
As you walk with Jesus, you will discover for yourself that He loves you unconditionally, is kind, and never abandons you in difficult times. You can now give your kids the best opportunity to follow Christ for themselves. Of course, they still have a free will to do as they choose, but you have given the Holy Spirit much more to work with.
If loving Jesus is a priority in your life, it must be reflected in your home. If you are the first Christian branch in your family tree to do some of these things, let it motivate you to get it right. Get support from your pastor, your church and a men’s group. You will make an eternal difference in your kids’ lives. It’s never too soon or too late to be a brave dad, determined to bring his kids to Jesus.