For episode 006 of Questions Kids Ask,
Lisa Whittle joins us to talk about what is often an unsaid question from kids who might be getting ready to go to college or get out into the world on their own, or you might hear it from kids who are thinking about becoming a Christian. Have your kids asked this question before? Whether they have or not, it's important to be able to communicate why someone should choose to give their live to Jesus, and Lisa is here to help.
We started this conversation by asking Lisa for a book that has changed her life, but Lisa is an over-achiever, so she gave me three.
Joni: An Unforgettable Story by Joni Erickson Tada
Lisa said of this title, “If God can use a strong, stubborn female like that, then he can use me.”
Why should I follow Jesus?
Talking about spiritual things shouldn’t be unnatural and difficult, and that’s what we want to do here. We want to equip you to talk with your kids conformably about God and what He has done, is doing, and will do.
Don’t think, “Oh it would never be my child that struggles with this.” If they come home from college or from some class with new questions and new ideas, don’t panic.
When questions come up, often these questions are to test how much you (the parent) really believe what you believe and how important your faith really is to you. Our kids are watching and are keenly aware of what we deem important. Often, we don’t realize how important our relationship with the Lord is. It is super foolish for us to starve our relationship with Him because our kids are watching.
Make clear to your kids that their faith is their own.
This is not a faith you get by osmosis. You can “catch it” by being around your parents. Every person has to choose. It is important that they grasp Jesus’ sacrifice, but also on a practical level, it’s important to understand that not only is He worth it, but other things won’t be worth it. There will come a day when they will have to choose for real in many cases, God or something else.
I’ve said to my kids, I’m not going to be there forever. Let me tell you why we’ve chosen Christ and why it’s the best choice you can ever make. Age appropriateness is important, but also don’t dumb it down. Your kids can handle it. Give them examples of people who have lived unfulfilled lives because they did not choose to follow the Lord.
As your kids participate in sports or other activities they love or when they talk about other things going on in their lives, slide in learning by discussing spiritual matters in terms they understand.
Parenting should present Christ as the most powerful option and the only way.
I totally butchered this CS Lewis quote, but I think the intention is still here.
Help your kids know that there is a much better Hero in the story. Here's the correct quote:
“Since it is so likely that (children) will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage. Otherwise you are making their destiny not brighter but darker.”
Another quote I found after recording that I think speaks to the same thing from Russell Moore:
“The problem is, our kids know there are monsters out there. God put that awareness in them.” and in another interview he said, “Your worrying about the monster under the bed isn’t unreasonable: There’s a monster under the fabric of the cosmos.”
But praise the Lord, Jesus has already defeated that monster and one day when Jesus returns to make all things right and new, no one who follows Him will ever be ensnared by that monster again.
So practically, where do we begin?
With even the smallest kids, we can start that now by asking simple questions like, “Who made you?” “Who is God’s Son?” “Who’s the biggest hero?”
Even before kids can talk, studies show that they are building foundations of understanding, beginning to understand vocabulary, and making connections, so it’s a great time to start what one day will help them answer, “Why should I follow Jesus?”
Basically, start having conversations now no matter the age or maturity of your child in words they can understand. Make your home a safe place to ask hard questions and to talk out difficult feelings. Speak of Jesus and the work He did on the cross every day.
Do you disciple you kids differently based on their personalities?
Great advice from Lisa, "Figure out the best methods for each child. It would not make sense for us to customize everything they do like sports or music and to not do that with faith.
The message doesn’t change; the method does. For instance, if my daughter needs encouragement, but she might get embarrassed about it if I said it to her, then I text it to her because I know she doesn’t want to receive it looking into my eyes. I want to do what works and what connects, because the end goal is for them to be discipled and to receive the truths deep down in their hearts. You might do books together, goal-setting together, pray together, just do something."
Lisa recently began a daily podcast called 5 Word Prayers Daily by Lisa Whittle.
It is available anywhere you listen to podcasts. It's just five minutes everyday (Monday-Friday), but just because it is short doesn't mean it is shallow. You'll want to listen in and start your day with some encouragement from God's Word.