How Moms Can Be Intentional About Raising Kids Who Follow Jesus
If you’re reading this, I can only assume you have kiddos in your life who call you mom. Maybe you have a few under age five and you just locked yourself in your bathroom for three minutes to read this, grasping for encouragement to keep plugging away (no shame – been there).
Maybe yours just went off to college and you’re floundering, wondering how your relationship will look from this point forward, needing some hope. Thanks for tuning in. I’ll try to keep this brief as, trust me, I know your time is precious.
Think with me a moment about your parenting goals. Are your goals to raise … Happy kids? Empathetic kids? Socially aware kids who can change the world? Intelligent kids who can succeed in their future jobs? All great things, to be sure! However, too often in our “survival mode” of day-in-day-out motherhood, we lose sight of what our main goal should actually be. We’re accomplishing the visible tasks right in front of us at the expense of proactively raising kids who follow Jesus.
Have you ever heard of the 4-14 Window?
The 4-14 Window refers to the age range when 70% of Christians choose to follow Jesus. Seventy percent! Being intentional about cultivating our children’s faith during childhood is crucial.(If your child is older and not too interested in all this Jesus stuff yet, don’t panic. Thirty percent of Christians accept Jesus after age 14, and that’s still a good-sized number, especially when parents are being intentional. Just keep praying. Your child is not a statistic.)
Hearing about the 4-14 Window may create a sense of urgency in us, as far as our child’s eternity goes, and it should. But the idea doesn’t need to stress us out, either.
Leading Your Kids In the Right Direction
Let me share 3 practical ways to be intentional in raising kids who follow Jesus:
1. No matter how busy you are, carve out time to think proactively.
I don’t think I’m alone when I say some days it feels like I don’t have any free space in my brain. The needs of my kids, all our activities, and other random information sucks away every last second of mental energy. We have to remind ourselves: We’ll never accomplish the most important things by just doing what’s in front of us. If you can take a few hours and run off to Starbucks to be “alone” with
your notebook, more power to you. If you can only squeeze out five minutes of alone time locked in the solace of your closet, that will suffice too. (Loaves and fish come to mind anyone?
God is a pro at taking what little we have and making it work.)
Once alone, direct your heart toward God and ask him to help you focus and prioritize. Then comes the hard part…listen. If you seek him, he will speak to you, of that I’m sure. We need to let him encourage our anxious hearts and re-calibrate our lives so we’re pointed in the right direction.
And let me just say my kids are 11, 9, and 7, but believe me—I vividly remember the long days of potty training, never getting enough sleep, and well, constantly being needed. No matter how hard we try to embrace that time, even the best moms can fall into monotony and resort to functioning out of survival mode for a time. *Raising my hand. High.* We have to prioritize time to think.
2. Then, make a brief list of ways to proactively encourage your children in their faith.
Maybe your list will include things such as: read the Bible with them every morning, pray with them and for them out loud and in person, find ways for them to get involved and serve others, ask them pointed questions about their faith to get their wheels turning (in an open, not an obnoxious way), or send them notes of spiritual encouragement.
And remember, there is no Junior Holy Spirit. Children are more than capable—in fact, they’re created—to follow Jesus as we do. Some of us may need to broaden our expectations for our children, spiritually-speaking.
Let God guide your list, and then tack your list up where you can see and remember it each morning. Otherwise, it’s too easy to let slide in the midst of our never-ending motherhood duties. Preparing in this way will help us stay rooted as we prioritize raising kids to follow Jesus.
3. Remember, living for Jesus is more caught than taught—be intentional in letting your kids see you interacting with Jesus.
We can teach our kids Bible facts until the cows come home, but if they don’t see us applying it personally, they’ll get bored and move on when they’re old enough to choose for themselves.
Let them see you engrossed in your Bible or in prayer. Crank up that worship song you love so much, as you cook supper and invite them to sing along. Let them go to church early with you, because you volunteered to make coffee or teach in children’s church.
Let them observe you helping the needy person at the grocery store, then have a quick chat about how Jesus loved the least and the lost. When you come across a person with a clear need, stop and ask that person if you can pray for them, right then and there, and let your kids help.
Let your children see you living out loud for Jesus. Not just during devotion time. Not just on Sunday mornings. If your children see you doing the Jesus stuff wherever you go, then they’ll know. This stuff is for real.
It’s Not About Perfection
Be encouraged. Momming is hard and thankfully, there’s grace for the journey.
We don’t have to be perfect and we don’t have to stress about what a big responsibility it is to raise our kids for Jesus. We simply have to partner with the Holy Spirit, trust God’s goodness, and follow where we see Jesus leading.
If you’re feeling unsure and you have a child aged 8 or older, let me point you toward a resource that can help. Power Up is a children’s fiction novel meant to help kids see how awesome and adventurous it is to take the reins of their own faith. I wrote it with the intention of inspiring “church kids” to take the next step and engage with God personally and live their faith out loud.
So if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed or just want a resource to partner with your efforts, check out Power Up by Jessie Mattis, (that’s me!), available on Amazon,
BarnesAndNoble.com, and ChristianBook.com.
Thanks for joining me as we collectively aspire to mom intentionally in order to produce Jesus-
loving, world-changing kids! (Who says mom can’t be a verb?)
Deep breaths, you’ve got this.
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- 1 Print Copy of Jessie Mattis’ book Power Up!
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Jessie Mattis lives with her husband and fellow author, Chip Mattis, and their three amazing kids in Bloomington, Indiana, and immensely enjoys being a wife and mom. While she is often busy homeschooling the kids, you can also find her spending time with friends and family, serving at church, reading, writing, or sneaking chocolate from the cupboard to go with her black coffee (when the kids aren’t looking, of course).
Jessie’s debut novel, Power Up, was an award winner in the 2018 Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference annual contest.
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