Raising boys with a heart for Jesus…
It can seem impossible, can’t it?
In a world that seems to grow increasingly darker by the day – with sin running rampant and being so readily accepted – how do we stand a chance?
With a million other influences, both physical and spiritual, pulling our children in every direction, begging them further and further away from the one that matters most, how can we ensure that only one whisper is heard in their hearts – Jesus’?
It’s my biggest fear. It’s my greatest calling. It’s the single thing that most consistently keeps my mind a-whirling at night..
Raising my boys with a heart for Jesus
While it can seem discouraging at times, it only means that I must try harder. I have to. It means that I need to make this my hearts desire every single day.
There is still hope. There’s always hope. And I know one thing is certain – God is still in control.
So, what are some things that I make sure I do (to the best of my ability- no one’s perfect!) every single day, and that I will continue to strive towards for the rest of my life?
I pray with my children daily.
Every night before bed we say prayers. We ask God to bless our friends and family, and we each pray for one thing we’re thankful for and one thing to ask God for. (It usually ends up being much more than one thing for my kiddos, and I’m okay with that! I want them to know they can go to God for anything and everything).
Other times to pray include before meals and whenever my child has an issue or concern. If something comes up throughout the day, like if we find out Daddy has a big presentation at work, we will pray right then and there- in the car, at the dinner table, wherever.
My kids actually think it’s pretty fun, and will constantly tell me throughout the day what they “just prayed for”.
We listen to uplifting music.
For us this usually means Christian music (K-Love is great. It’s also relatively commercial-free!). I rarely listen to any other channel, whether with my kiddos or without, (I like country, too, though), but I feel it’s especially important to play uplifting worship music around them.
I’ll have it playing in the background during the day, we listen to it in the car, and my kids like to have soft music in their rooms at night, so guess what they listen to? Yep – worship music! It really warms my heart to hear them singing along, and every once in a while they’ll belt out a random hymn.
I truly believe that when I have Christian music playing, I’m inviting the Holy Spirit to be present with us wherever we are.
We are involved in church programs.
If you want your kids to have a heart for Jesus, I definitely recommend starting with regularly going to church.
We struggled with this for many years – getting everyone up and ready in time to be out the door by 8:45. And to be one hundred percent transparent, until recently, we didn’t attend church every Sunday. But it’s always been something SO important for me; that our children grow up knowing that on Sunday’s, we go to church. So lately we’ve been making a much greater effort.
We also bring our kids to Awana on Wednesday nights. We’ve been doing this since my oldest started kindergarten, and my kids LOVE it. It’s probably one of the things they most look forward to each week- more so than sports, school, or preschool. They are constantly asking if it’s Awana night.
If you’re not familiar with Awana, it’s a children’s Bible program (for ages 2 through high school) available at some churches (you can check here to see if there’s a church near you). They teach Biblical foundation in a fun way for kids to learn and retain – through Handbook Time where kids memorize scripture and receive awards after passing certain milestones, Counsel Time, where they have a Bible story and/or life application appropriate for the age of the group, and Game Time, where kids get to play group games.
I cannot more highly sing the praises of Awana. I grew up going to Awana, and I believe wholeheartedly Awana had the biggest impact on my Spiritual foundation. Much greater, even, than attending Sunday school.
I still to this day remember Bible verses I memorized 20 years ago. It’s also how I learned the books of the Bible- without Awana I wouldn’t have the first clue!
My parents were (and still are) very active in Awana, and that’s also something I plan to be as well. (I took a break this year since Baby Boy was still pretty little at the start of the year, but I plan to become a leader again next year.).
We could be more involved with other church programs, and I’m sure as my children age we will add things to our list. My goal is to always be involved in something in addition to attending church on Sunday’s.
After all, if we don’t show that Christ is a daily part of our week, how can we expect our kids to, as well?
I pray for them.
Every single morning, and throughout the day, I am consistently praying for my children.
[Read my post The 8 Most Important Things to Pray for your Kids for some specific ideas!]
I have a list of things to remind me what to pray for each day, and I add or take things away from my list as necessary. I truly believe that God can, and will, accomplish anything, and my prayers reflect that.
I also tell my kids that I pray for them. I talk to them about my prayers. One way I do that is every morning on the way to drop my oldest off at school, I let him know that I’m praying for him to be safe and that he’ll have a good day.
Just by letting him know he’s on my mind – and God’s – throughout the day, I’m planting the seed.
I don’t shelter them from everything.
Ugh. I know what you’re thinking. As a mom, this is near impossible at times. Our main purpose in life is to protect and guard our babies. It goes against our natural instincts to not do our best to shelter them from all the bad in the world. How can I not try to only expose my children to the best?
Truthfully, I believe that’s why we have husbands. My husband was the one who first made me aware of how important this is – and he’s absolutely right.
If I try to protect my child from any and every possible situation, event, scenario, outcome, painful experience, etc…how will he ever learn to handle it himself?
Even bigger than that, how will he ever learn to trust Jesus?
I’m talking something as simple as sending them to school. Anyone else?
I was convinced when my oldest started kindergarten the only answer was for me to homeschool him. And for some families, this may be a great choice. For my kids, however, I believe I would be doing them a disservice if I didn’t send them to public school. As much as my heart aches at the thought, it’s important for them to learn how to handle themselves in sometimes undesirable social settings – around other children and adults.
I’m not going to be there forever, no matter how badly I want to be. Getting them accustomed to making decisions without me is an essential part of their development – including their relationship with Jesus.
Not sheltering them from everything is also a ginormous strength and faith building scenario for me. It forces me to trust God to take care of my children in any and all situations – when I am not there.
Remember how He loves our children even more than we do?
If I believe that God is who He says He is, then I have to believe that He will not only protect my children- His children– but that He has even greater plans for them. Greater than I can ever comprehend.
I do my best to live by example.
This is hard, guys. If anyone gets that, it’s me. I’m a terrible sinner. I fall SO short. My past is a wreck. And I mess up every. single. day.
But you know what I always do? I turn to Jesus. I ask for forgiveness. And I let my children know when I do.
How can I expect them to have a heart for Jesus if I don’t? How can I expect them to turn to Him for everything if I don’t? How can I expect them to follow God if I’m a church-skipping, non-praying (in front of them, or not), swear-word using kinda gal?
Now listen. You know I’m all about grace around here. I still am. There are times where I do all of the above. I’m not perfect, no one’s perfect, and the best part about Jesus? He doesn’t expect us to be.
But if you’re reading this post, then there’s an ever-so-slight possibility you’re wondering how you can raise your children to have a heart for Jesus, no? If that’s the case, then it’s time for some honest, punch-ya-in-the-gut self-evaluation here. Warning: it might hurt.
I can pray and plead as much as I want, but at some point, God requires action.
In other words – if I’m not living out what it looks like to follow God, how can my children?
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. My number one goal and passion in life is to raise five strong, Godly men. Lord knows the world needs more of them.
My single greatest desire for my children is to have a heart for Jesus. That’s it. I know if they do, the rest will fall into place.
I can’t control where they’re going. I can kick and scream and throw myself on the floor like my one year old does when he wants to play with his big brother’s Lego guys (choking hazard!), but it ain’t gettin’ me anywhere, guys.
Only God knows where they’re going. So my best bet is to get on board. Hop on that Jesus train, because it’s not stopping. And the longer I wait to step on, the further away I’ll be from my – and their – final destination.
So if you want your children to have a heart for Jesus, the best place you might want to start is with you.