Since we as parents are called to equip our kids for a lifetime of living under the Lordship of Jesus, it is essential for us to prepare them for a lifetime of weaving together the inseparable bond that must exist between belief and behavior. What we must instill in our kids is both a knowledge of the Gospel message (belief), along with how that message must inform, shape, and transform, every square inch of life (behavior). As I look around at today’s youth culture, there are numerous aspects of childhood and adolescent life where Christian parents must begin challenging and equipping their kids to see how Christian beliefs speak to their behaviors. Here are five key areas to consider:
1.Playing. Many of our kids are involved in athletics. Are we teaching them what it means to play to God’s glory as opposed to the glory of self? And, are we equipping them to prioritize rather than overprioritize or idolize sport and play? Are we helping them put their lives in order by teaching them to see opportunities for spiritual nurture and gathering with the Body of Christ as a higher priority than practices and games?
2.Studying. Do we expect them to work to the best of their ability, producing the best work they can if they have a bent toward academic laziness? Are we pushing back on the anxiety-producing obsession and academic competitiveness some kids have, where they are never satisfied with the results of their best efforts? Are we teaching them to study first and foremost to increase their knowledge of God and His world, as opposed to achieving the idol of good grades? Are we helping them see that academic achievements are not an end in and of themselves, but that they are a path to contributing to God’s work in the world?
3.Posting. Our kids will be engaging with social media and technology for the rest of their lives. Are you teaching them to live out their faith on social media by setting up clear borders and boundaries, along with endeavoring to bring glory to God rather than trying to solicit glory and attention for self? Are you leading them to find their identity in Christ alone, rather than in the frequency of “likes” and positive comments to their curated/fabricated posts and photos that typically don’t even come close to representing their true selves.
4.Relating. Are you teaching your kids to honor, love, and respect authority? Are you equipping them to glorify God through their friendships? Are you teaching them to put others first?
5.Driving. There’s a reason why states and insurance companies place restrictions on new teenage drivers. They’re new to this, without experience, and developmentally impulsive. Are you teaching your kids to see driving as an act of worship where they can bring glory to God through safe driving habits. . . beginning with putting their smartphone aside while behind the wheel?
The life of the Christian is one that is to be lived counter-culturally and around the clock. Equip your kids for faithful living and for effective mission by nurturing them into playing, studying, posting, relating, and driving to the glory of God.
– Dr. Walt Mueller
Founder & President, Center for Parent/Youth Understanding