Most Christian parents want to encourage their children to mature spiritually, but they do not know how. I am not an expert at this and I am still learning, but my boys are incredible men of God and they sincerely seek after Christ into their young adult years.
Here are some thoughts for producing children who desire to grow spiritually:
Look at your plank first
How is your own your spiritual life? Are you growing in your knowledge and love of God outside of Sunday morning? You cannot lead your family somewhere you have not been or are not going.
Have a plan
If you do not know where you want to go you probably will not get there. I wanted my boys to be men of God. I started at the age of about 8 teaching them what that means. At the age of 12, we began a year of discovery and at age 13 we celebrated entry into the beginning stages of manhood. We have continued to fine tune that plan each year.
Find out what works for your children and for the family
You are only going to stick with things you really want to do and that work. Your children are unique and each requires different environments to learn. You may be strong enough to make your children sit still for a 30 minute family devotion time, but ask yourself is it effective or does it simply make you feel better. The key is that your family is moving in the right direction spiritually, not that you follow someone else’s script.
Look for teaching moments
Be available to your children on their time. They do not know how the game of life works and they will need your input. The problem is they will want you one minute and not the next. For Jeremy the best teaching moments were while kicking a soccer ball. For Nathaniel it was throwing a baseball.
Do not force it
Sometimes parents (maybe especially pastors) are so afraid of our own image, of what people may think if children do or say something wrong, that we put undue pressure on them. Do not be afraid for your children to question their faith. I see too many parents that go into panic mode when their children naturally question spiritual things. If you are normal then you have days when your faith is not quite as strong. Do not expect more from your children.
I took my boys along for ministry meetings whenever I could. We have participated in family mission trips. I evaluate Sundays with my boys. They feel a part of my ministry.
Keep your family emotionally healthy
How healthy are you emotionally? How healthy is your spouse and your children? Recognize the signs of burnout and stress on your family and address problems early.
Build relationships first and spiritual maturity second
Build the kind of relationship with your children that will help them want more of what you value. Jesus did that with the disciples. Your children are more likely to want to know the Christ you love if they learn first to love you.
What tips do you have for building spiritual maturity into your home?