Dec 02

Parenting Teenagers – Part 3

Resource by Paul and Ruth Fast

The Real Deal

Few things are as unattractive as fakery. How disappointing, how disheartening, to discover that what you thought was the real deal turns out to be a fraud! The Apostle Paul exhorted his readers to follow his example in Christian living; he encouraged Titus and Timothy to set good examples for others to follow. How could he confidently say such things? Because his own faith was real. He was modelling his life after Jesus Christ. 

No doubt about it, our kids will know when we are just acting or if our everyday lives are genuinely walking the talk. Are we ourselves modelling our lives after our Lord, or just expecting our kids to? Our responsibility before God is to lay a good foundation for our families to follow. It is not a guarantee that our children will follow, but if the foundation is no good, it is hard for children to build on it. We can’t pass on what we don’t possess, and if our everyday lives reflect something other than what we claim to believe, we are living as fakes.

So what does that look like in practice?

The number one practice we Christian parents need to develop in our own lives, if we expect our children to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, is to nourish ourselves on God’s Word. It is the foundation that we build our lives on. If we are malnourished by neglecting personal study of God’s Word and not prioritizing church attendance and prayer fellowship with believers, then our children will lack the example of vibrant Christian living.

Modelling Christ-likeness gets really practical when we ask ourselves what our primary goal in life is. Is it the pursuit of money? Career? Pleasure? Our goals drive our priorities. Talking to our kids about lofty ideals of serving Jesus and loving others falls quite flat when they only hear us talk about how much money we are making (or not making!) It will be obvious to our kids that we value our work more than our God-given families if we can never say no to more work. And when our weekends are planned around entertainment, our kids see what our most deeply held value is: me.

Most Christians hope to portray a trusting mindset towards God. Yet, the tangible way to see what occupies our minds is to ask: does our lifestyle reflect that? Or do our kids see a frazzled, impatient, exhausted mom and dad? A harried lifestyle actually reveals a lack of trust. It says “If I don’t go to all these events, don’t meet all these people, pursue these work and business ventures, participate in all these good things, how will we get ahead?” Parenting is a life of sacrifice, plain and simple. Are we prepared to give up some good things in order to live a life that models trust in God to care for our every need? Our kids will know the difference.

There’s an old southern gospel song that has the line, “if you want more happy than your heart can hold, take whatever you have and give it away!” A generous parent teaches the child that possessions and time are not actually ours, they are a gift of God. The best antidote to cranky selfishness is generosity. “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7b). Cheerful generosity models for our children that we understand all we have comes from God, that He can be trusted to take care of us and we can show God’s love to the world by giving away what He has given us. How transforming would it be if we had discussions and made plans with our kids how to help and serve others with our time and money? Let’s purpose to make a habit of modelling generosity and sacrificial service. 

When all is said and done, nothing speaks louder of a life modelled after Jesus than when we ask our children to forgive us when we have failed to live up to what we know Christ requires of us as parents. Despite our imperfections, our walk with Jesus is proven to be the real deal.

The views expressed in our articles are those of the author and not necessarily held by everyone at Christ City Church.