Train Up A Child

The Importance of Modeling Your Faith in a Child's Spiritual Formation

I am sure you would agree that raising children in an environment of competing worldviews is challenging. As an older parent and grandfather, I am greatly concerned. But we can't shrink away from the task. Here's why. Children are like sponges, absorbing not only what they are taught but also what they observe in the lives of those around them. As parents, grandparents, guardians or mentors our actions, attitudes, and values can significantly impact a child's understanding of our Christian beliefs and set them up with a right relationship with God the Father.

This short devotional is not a comprehensive discussion on modeling our Christian faith or a child's spiritual formation, but it does offer some practical biblical guidance on how to do so effectively.

Reflect God's love to the children under your influence 

At the top of the list is how we reflect God's love to the children in our lives. The Bible tells us in 1 John 4:7-8, "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love." By demonstrating love, compassion, and kindness in our daily interactions, we help children understand the depth of God's love for them. Our love becomes a tangible expression of God's love, shaping their perception of Him as a loving Father.

Live out your Christian values

Children are keen observers of behavior. They pay attention to how we respond to challenges, adversity, and success. By consistently living out lives of honesty, integrity, forgiveness, and humility, we provide them with a moral compass that guides their decisions and actions. In Matthew 5:16, Jesus encourages us, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." When we model these values, we not only influence them towards good behavior but also inspire them to live in a way that honors God.

Teach them how to pray and worship

Modeling a life of prayer and worship is instrumental in a child's spiritual formation. The Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, we should "pray without ceasing." When children see us regularly seeking God through prayer and worshipping Him in both private and corporate settings, it becomes a natural part of their lives which they will learn is an expression of gratitude and reverence. And by praying with our children, we can teach that prayer is not merely a task we do at mealtime or before we go to sleep, but a conversation with a real and loving God.

Show them how to handle adversity with faith

Your life and mine is full of challenges, and how we respond to adversity can profoundly impact a child's spiritual growth. When we model faith and trust in God during difficult times, we teach them that God is our refuge and strength (Psalm 46:1). Sharing our own testimonies of how God has been faithful in our lives can be a powerful way to instill trust in Him within the hearts of children. They learn that God is with them in their trials and that He can turn any situation for their good.

Practice forgiveness

Jesus teaches us in Matthew 6:14-15, "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." When we forgive others, we help children understand the importance of extending grace and reconciliation. They see that forgiveness is not a sign of weakness but a reflection of the mercy we have received from God. This is so much needed in our world where harsh words are often the response they see to any offense.

Demonstrate and involve them in servanthood

Jesus set the ultimate example of servanthood when He washed the disciples' feet (John 13:1-17). When we serve others selflessly and sacrificially, we show children that Christian faith is not about seeking recognition or power but about humbly serving others. This teaches them the value of humility, compassion, and the joy that comes from serving God and others.

Build in them a foundation of scripture

The Word of God is the foundation of our faith, and through consistent reading and study of Scripture, we encourage children to engage with God's Word. In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, we are reminded that "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." Reading the Bible together, discussing its stories and lessons, and memorizing verses help children develop a strong foundation in God's Word, which will guide them throughout their lives.

Modeling your faith in a child's spiritual formation is not just a responsibility; it is a privilege and a calling. Our lives serve as living testimonies of God's grace and love, shaping the beliefs and values of the next generation. As we reflect God's love, live out biblical values, foster prayer and worship, handle adversity with faith, practice forgiveness, demonstrate servanthood, and build a foundation of Scripture, we help children grow in their understanding of God and His plan for their lives.

Let’s remember the words of Proverbs 22:6:"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Our modeling of faith lays a strong foundation upon which they can build a lifelong relationship with God.

Credit: Ron Kelley

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