Children see, children do

Warning: the above commercial has shocking content.

I stumbled across this commercial the other day and it really hit a chord with me.  Studies have shown over and over that the primary spiritual influence on young people, whether they realize it or not, is their parents.  For the most part, children and teens will grow into adults that emulate the faith and practice of their parents.

The ways in which we as parents prioritize faith, spiritual disciplines, participation in the local church and worship all impact our children.  It doesn’t matter what I say, my sons will most likely learn from my actions.  It blows my mind that when you look at the ministry of Jesus, He never tells the disciples to pray.  He just does it.  Day in and day out.  The Creator of the universe, the Son of God, the All Powerful One, our Saviour … He made prayer a priority no matter what was going on.  The end result, after seeing this for a couple years, was that the disciples finally came to Him and said ‘teach us to pray.’  They wanted it, not because He told them to want it, but because He modeled to them the priority of prayer.

If we want our children to love God, then our love for God must be observable.  If I want my children to find a church when they leave the home and go to college, church has to be a priority now – we won’t skip over weather, vacations, sports, etc.  We’re not legalistic about it, but it is a priority.  If we want our children to serve others, they have to see us serving.

Too often we as parents are overwhelmed and intimidated by the task.  We’re not spiritual giants, we wouldn’t win in a theology debate … but that doesn’t mean that we’re ill equipped to communicate a love of God to our children.  As a youth pastor, I love it when parents come to me looking for ideas to pursue God as a family in their home.  I love it when families choose church over other activities, I love seeing parents bringing their children on service projects or mission trips, and I love hearing about families talking about God together, whether it’s for a few minutes in the car, around the table, or in the family room.

Children see, children do.  What do your children see you doing when it comes to God?

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