By Beth Ann Baus, Crosswalk.com
Can parents do things to hurt their children’s faith? That’s a question that has been asked and a topic that has been written on countless times!
As a mother, when I’m faced with this question, my answer usually centers around two words: our response. How parents respond to the world speaks volumes to our children about our faith, our understanding of the gospel, and our acceptance of God’s sovereignty.
Good or bad, the home is a child’s first school, and the parents the first teachers. Our children are watching, listening and learning from our every move.
Matthew 15:18 tells us that what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart. How we respond to the world, both positively and negatively, reveals to our children what’s in our hearts, and it helps mold and shape their hearts as well.
Below are three specific topics that are dominating current conversation, and how we engage in these conversations is so important.
Not only do we want to be a good witness to a watching world, but we want to be a good representative of our Lord to our watching children.
Consider the following topics and ask yourself the corresponding questions. And then ask yourself, are you potentially strengthening or hurting your child’s faith?
1. Your Response to COVID-19
Everyone has their own thoughts on the pandemic. But, at the end of the day, there are some important things we should remember and questions we should ask ourselves as we process this in front of our children.
Am I paralyzed by fear?
COVID-19 has left many people living in a state of fear and anxiety. And while we should be teaching our children about the risk factors of this virus and how to live safely, we shouldn’t be demonstrating paralyzing fear.
Why? Because that kind of response doesn’t point to God’s sovereignty. If our children hear us say we trust God in all things, but then see us riddled with fear and anxiety, they won’t believe that God is trustworthy.
Concern is natural and appropriate, but we must remind ourselves, as well as our children, that God did not give us a Spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-control (2 Tim 1:7). Demonstrate to your child what it means to be fueled by power, love, and self-control rather than fear.
Am I criticizing our governing authorities?
There are differing opinions on the validity of COVID mandates and whether or not we, as Christians, should follow them. Regardless of where you land on this issue, you must remember one very important thing: Whether or not you agree with your governing authorities, they too, were made in the image of God (Gen 1:27).
Therefore, they deserve to be spoken of with the same level of respect as any other image-bearer. When you teach your children Romans 13:1, (“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God”) and then bad-mouth those in authority, you’re communicating that God has chosen poorly, and you don’t approve of His sovereign decision.
This isn’t to say we can’t teach our children what we do and do not agree with, but we can disagree with our leaders and still speak about them with respect.
Am I criticizing those who think differently than myself?
Where I live, masks are causing more division than I could have ever imagined.
I’ve been so disheartened by the hateful comments made by some of my Christian brothers and sisters to others who either do or don’t choose to obey the mask mandate.
The bottom line is, do you want to teach your children to verbally tear down those who have different convictions than you, or to respect and speak kindly of them?
We must teach our children, by example, how to live out Romans 12:18, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Explain to your children what your convictions are, but when it comes to talking about those with differing convictions, teach your children to use their tongue for life, not for death (1 Thess 5:11).
2. Your Response to Conversations on Racial Injustices
There is so much that could be said on this topic, but the bottom line is we must reflect the love of the Lord regarding this issue. We don’t have to know all the key words, we don’t have to know all the politically-correct lingo, and we don’t have to know all the details of the stories we’ve seen in the news over the past few months. What we do need to know is that God is good, even in hard times, and we need to reflect His goodness. Ask yourself the following questions to see if you’re doing just that:
Am I ignoring my obligation to help others?
Even if we empathize with our brothers and sisters who are experiencing racial injustice, we tend to excuse ourselves from the conversation by saying, “I’m not racist, so this doesn’t apply to me”, or “It’s not my job to step in and try and fix a problem I’m not apart of.”
With that in mind, read Luke 10:25-37 and imagine if the good Samaritan had seen the man on the Jericho road and said to himself “I’m not responsible for this guy, I didn’t do this, I shouldn’t have to pay the price for this guy’s recovery.” But what did he do? He came alongside a man who had been harmed.
It was not his sin to repent of, nor was it his mess to clean up, yet he inconvenienced himself, spent time, money, energy and resources to help restore a man who had been mistreated. Does your heart reflect that of the good Samaritan?
Am I communicating that all people are created in the image of God?
We know from Genesis that there is only one race; the human race. We also know from Genesis that we were all created in the image of God.
We know from Psalms 139:13-16 that God knit each of us together in our mother’s womb. There is no exclusion in any of these statements, yet we often live, speak, and dismiss evil as if there are exclusions.
In order to do our part to reduce instances of racial injustice, we have to start with teaching our children that all life has value, regardless of skin color.
Am I mourning with those who mourn, even if I don’t understand their sorrow?
My family has been touched by suicide and murder. With each of these situations, people came alongside our family to grieve with us, even though most of them had never walked the road we were walking.
To some degree, grief is grief. They didn’t have to lose a loved one in the same way we did to understand the depth of our sorrow.
In other words, my skin doesn’t have to be a certain color in order for me to acknowledge the pain of others. I don’t have to personally experience racial injustice to have empathy for those who do.
I don’t have to fully understand a situation in order to mourn the loss of life. If you want to hurt your child’s faith, teach them that all life is sacred, but then ignore an entire people group that is grieving generations of mistreatment.
If you want to deepen your child's faith, teach them to live out Romans 12:15.
3. Your Response to the Presidential Election
Few things get people riled up like politics. We love our freedom, we love our individualism, and we love the idea that we know what is best for our country. Let’s ask ourselves the following questions as we respond to the recent election.
Am I being humble?
Assuming your candidate of choice won the election, how are you treating your friends across the aisle?
Colossians 3:12 is a perfect verse to meditate on in this situation. “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
It’s easy to get puffed up and prideful when the stakes are high and we find ourselves on the “winning team.” But what our children need to see is us showing compassion to those who are upset about the outcome of the election. They need to see us taking opportunities to talk about God’s sovereignty, rather than boasting about having some sort of foresight as to who would best run our country.
Am I giving God glory?
If your candidate of choice won the election, you’re likely thanking God. But are you still giving Him glory if your candidate of choice didn’t win?
Isaiah 55:8-9 reminds us that God’s thoughts and ways are higher than our own. If we want to demonstrate the depth of our faith to our children we must give Him glory in all circumstances, not just when we get our way.
Am I trusting God regardless of who won the election?
If your candidate of choice didn’t win the election, I have to point to Romans 13:1 again.
When we voice our disdain for the elected President, we are communicating that we don’t agree with God’s choice and, logically, that communicates to our children that God can’t be trusted.
It’s appropriate to tell your children you don’t always understand what God is doing, how He’s working, or why He put a certain leader in office.
But we must demonstrate a consistent confidence in God’s sovereignty.
We must remind ourselves and our children that when Jesus told his disciples to render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's (Mark 12:17), they were living under the rule of a government known for its merciless crucifixions. Yet, Romans 12:3 was still true. It was true then and it’s true now.
As parents, we can apply the verses mentioned above to a multitude of scenarios. While we know that Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith (Heb 12:2), God has entrusted our children to us and we are told in Deuteronomy 11:19 to teach His words to them when we are sitting, walking, and lying down.
In other words, all the time. The challenge is that we teach our children intentionally and unintentionally with our words and actions.
Knowing they are watching our every move, let’s be mindful in our words and deeds to strengthen their faith rather than hurt it.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/HybridImages
Beth Ann Baus is a wife and homeschooling mom of two boys. She is a freelance writer and author of novels, Sister Sunday and My So Much More. In her writing, Beth often pulls from her own experiences of abuse, anxiety, depression and OCD. Beth has a heart for homeschooling, women’s ministry, and is an ACBC-certified Biblical Counselor. She loves serving alongside her husband and pointing couples to the Word for strengthening their marriages and home life. You can find more from her at www.bethannbaus.com.