This week my 16 year old daughter sent a text to her father and I informing us that she needed to hear from God on a few particular issues she is facing and was going to fast until He gave her the clarity she was seeking.
As her parents our initial response was to determine what issues she was facing so we could provide her with our expansive wisdom and solve all her problems… then she wouldn’t need to hear from God… I am so thankful God has given her enough sense to know that there are some things that her parents can’t solve for her. She respectfully declined our offer and asked for our support and prayers as she embarked on this journey.
My daughter has been strengthening her relationship with Christ for about 4 years now. While she has always been plugged into church, she didn’t begin her personal journey until around the same time I did. This is no coincident… We influence our children more than we realize.
I know that my daughter has been called and set apart by Christ. I am confident that He is the reason she is the beautiful follower of Christ… He is the force behind her compassion and the reason behind her obedience. He is her strength and her motivation… I am also confident that there were very specific tools and ideas God provided us to ensure she would arrive at this point. Thinking back over the past 16 years, I can think of 4 specific tips that helped my daughter establish a personal relationship with Christ.
1) She stayed in church – I did not begin to follow Christ until my daughter was about 12 years old… yet she grew up in the church. Her father grew up in the church and even when he turned away for a bit, her aunts and grandparents kept her in church. Even if you are not involved in the church and you don’t have a desire to go just yet… Find a neighbor, friend, youth group… something… Enlist others to help get your children planted in a church. This step alone will create a drastic change in the direction our children go.
2)We live transparently before each other – One of the most valuable tools we have in training our children to be followers of Christ is our own lives. With sin comes guilt and shame and we often try to hid ourselves from God and from our families. We put on this rob of perfection in hopes that no one can see our failures… but without our failures, there would be no real triumphs. I can recall times where I was laid out on my face before God asking Him to heal me, deliver me and set me free… I am sure my children thought I had lost it but I needed to get real with God and they needed to see that realness. When I am wrong in my words or actions, I repent… I also allow my children to speak into my life, pointing out areas where I could use more wisdom or strength… They know me best and if I truly want to be all God has created me to be then I have to allow others to speak into my life… Plus they love me no matter what so I never have to worry about them judging my flaws. This level of transparency sets an example for my children… If I am completely open and honest about my life and walk with Christ then they can be to.
3) She has always had a choice – I have always said that if my child wants to be a Christian, it would have to be of her own desire, not because her Grandparents are pastors. After I came to Christ, it was even more important for my children to decide on their own to follow Christ and not ride on my coat tail. One day my daughter came home from school and was unsure about everything she thought was true. She questioned if Jesus was real and was curious about other religions. My response was, if there is something you want to know then go find out… there is plenty of information out in this world for you to become knowledgeable about anything you choose. I told her that she is going to have to figure out if Jesus is real for herself and I wouldn’t be able to answer that for her. While my children WILL be planted in a church… I won’t ever force them to believe in Jesus… I don’t have to… My faith is not based on what I learned… It’s based on what I’ve experienced… Jesus is real, not because I simply believe it but because He is alive and present and constantly showing Himself throughout my life… I am confident that if He will make Himself known to me, He will definitely make Himself known to my children… So I encourage them, like I do everyone, if you want to know if Jesus is real, just ask Him… and like he always does, He showed up in her life and proved to her that He is real and that He adores her.
4) We learn and grow together – I have not arrived at some plateau in my Christianity where I no longer need to devour Gods word or fast and pray… despite our age difference, we are learning and growing in faith together. I have her trumped on the life experiences but she has had moments of immense wisdom and insight that have gotten me through some very tough times. We study together, we discuss scripture, we serve together… We have made a commitment to each other beyond mother and daughter… we are sisters in Christ on this journey together and we are determined to spread the love and gospel of Jesus Christ wherever we go. When she falls, I am there to pick her up and when I am down she is right there to lift me back up.
Getting to this point with my daughter is nothing but a pure example of God’s grace… and I believe that no matter what our current situations look like…we can all lead our children onto paths of a personal relationship with Christ… If nothing else, get your child planted in a church… Oasis LA has a remarkable children and youth program and if we aren’t in your area, please feel free to leave a comment with your city and state and I would love to help you find a local church to get planted in… I am confident you will begin to see changes right away. ~ DeShawne Coleman