So You Want Your Kids to Follow Jesus?…

So you want your kids to follow Jesus as they grow up and become adults?…

Who doesn’t?…

Yet it seems the most common epidemic in the church is that of young people jettisoning their commitment to Christ in the teen years. I’m sure there are many varied reasons for this but one reason must surely be that they have never really come to grips with submitting to authority.

I was on Facebook this morning when I saw a post by John Sweetman on a sermon he was going to be giving on raising kids. One of his points was this:

One of my points is to represent God’s authority by setting strict boundaries when kids are young (Heb 12:7-11). I know this is not always popular, but if children don’t somewhere learn to submit to authority then they will struggle to submit to Jesus as Lord

There are no guarantees when parenting. But I am right with him on this one. It’s one thing to give your kid freedom to express and learn but I think that idea of teaching kids submission to authority is vital to preparing them for following Christ. (And I couldn’t care less if that sounds politically incorrect, ‘old school’ or whatever!)

I saw Scot McKnight this week summarized the gospel in 3 words as ‘Jesus is Lord’. Stanley Hauwervas was a little more feisty (as is his nature) in stating ‘Jesus is Lord. Everything else is bullshit.’ However you see it if we want our kids to get the gospel – that Jesus is Lord – and will claim authority over our lives then we do them no favours by not preparing them for that reality.

Of course there are those weird parents who will treat their kids with brutality rather than authority but I think you know I’m not talking about that nonsense. As adult disciples we are always grappling with Jesus’ call on our lives and his authority over us. When you have a pre-wired sense of submission you can recognize this as sin and call it for what it is, but in the absence of this understanding the notion of someone calling me to submit can seem foreign and abusive. ‘Why would I want to do that?…’

So I reckon John nailed it there. Parents – if you want your kids to follow Jesus as they mature then teach them while they are young that there is genuine authority to be submitted to and respected. There is also authority that deserves confronting and challenging and hopefully as our kids mature they will be able to discern who to listen to and who to question.

As for Jesus – he has already made the call…

He was asking for people’s thought on how we prepare our kids for lives of mature adult discipleship and if I were to add my own (Danelle’s and my take) we would say that when kids see their parents genuinely living the life of faith, choosing the ‘narrow path’ and living lives of genuine discipleship (not just going to church) then they are presented with a vision of how the life of the kingdom can be. They might reject it – but at least they would be saying ‘no’ to the real deal.

5 thoughts on “So You Want Your Kids to Follow Jesus?…

  1. Wow – worlds colliding, though shouldn’t be surprised of the small Christian world (and even smaller Baptist world). John was my principal at Bible College, and still a mentor.

  2. I’m very much with you and Danelle re. the importance of parents demonstrating a meaningful discipleship, but perhaps without a concept of submission kids might not grasp what they are seeing?

    Also, Firefox warned me that this was an attack site and cited malware downloaded on September 5th. Good luck with that.

  3. I grew up in a home where submission to authority was not something anyone ever talked about. My parents treated me like an equal and a friend. I met Jesus when I was 12, on my own. I wondered at 12 years old why I was following Jesus and going to church out of desire and love for Him, and the kids who had grown up in the church were only doing it cause their parents made them.

    I love the idea of bowing my knee to Jesus and submitting to Him. I know what it means to submit to His Word and His authority. But I didn’t get that from my parents. I think – if they had made themselves dictators instead of reasonable people to relate to, that i probably would have resented them and all authority. But I’m greatful that’s not the relationship they formed with me. They walked alongside me, not over me. My parents gave me great freedom and even so, for instance, I remained a virgin until marriage. (Well, I’m engaged right now so hopefully I won’t do anything to negate that last sentence!) I have watched many of the young people I know grow up under strict religious parents and rebel like crazy. My two cents.


  4. Hi Heather – nice to hear from you. I’m not thinking ‘dictatorship’ at all as that has some very negative connotations. But I am thinking that when we love we set those strict boundaries.

    You mentioned virginity – which some would see as extremely harsh – but it is God setting a boundary that stems from his love.

    I think you can have a heap of fun, a relaxed family life but also teach your kids submission to authority.

    Not all families need to express that the same way – and if you met ours you might not think we roll that way… but truth is we do 🙂

  5. Hamo,

    Great post. A real head scratcher. Our kids are 15 and 13 so they’re right in this stage and I would describe them as “exploring”. Not necessarily faith but who they are. As we raised them we always moved from restriction to freedom. They had clear boundaries (authority?) and as they learned to accept those and treat the rules responsibly, they “earned” further freedoms. But now, we are at the point of granting them even further freedom. Being teenagers, we find ourselves on the brink of “letting them go”.

    There definitely are no guarantees in parenting but I’m counting on God (if He exists) to draw them to Himself. *That* will be a joyous day.

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