Parents lead children in many ways. But many don’t realize the privilege they have in leading their kids for a kingdom cause. As parents, we can lead our children to intimacy with God, helping them build their spiritual muscles and turning them into disciples.
Here’s a story I’d like to share…
How Connecting with God Led to a Proud Moment in Fatherhood
With my face down on the carpet, I can feel the hot tears streaming down my cheeks. My nose is snotting, and my chest is heaving as I feel the tender embrace of the heart of the Father towards me. His presence is a tangible wonder I am swimming in as the worship music around me echoes in my ears.
Amongst this heaven-on-earth bliss, I feel a small hand touch my back. Then fingertips drag on my shirt as my daughter Ariella circles around me to get a look at my face. She sees the tears but doesn’t understand. Thinking I’m sad or upset, she herself starts to cry, and trying to comfort me, she says, “It’s ok, daddy.”
Enter one of the proudest, most intimate moments of fatherhood: Looking at my daughter Ariella, my little lioness of God, as the worship music is blaring around us, I whisper into her ear, “It’s ok, honey. Daddy is crying because he’s happy.” My beard almost tickles her because I’m so close. “It’s ok, Ariella. Daddy loves Jesus so much that he’s crying.”
Assured that her daddy is ok, Ariella sinks into my lap. Leaning back against me, I can feel her little body against my chest, and in this moment, my Father’s heart cries out to God: “Daddy, may the intimacy I have with you be multiplied 10 times over for my children.” With this silent heart cry, new fresh hot tears drip from my cheeks to my daughter’s head.
What This Moment Taught Me about Leading Children
Parenting is one of the greatest honors of my life. As I reflect on this powerful moment, I am filled with awe that by my daughter simply watching me connect with God, I can lead her to intimacy with Him. There’s a powerful truth she’s learning from watching me that she could never learn any other way.
It’s amazing the influence that parents can have on their little ones. I’d always heard the adage that your children will be the greatest disciples you will ever make. I never quite fully understood that, but now that I have three little ones of my own, I get it.
2 Ways Parents Can Lead Children for a Kingdom Cause
Since the impact of parents is so powerful, let’s talk about two powerful ways parents can lead their children to be intimate with God—a kingdom cause.
- Modeling intimacy with God
Parents, you can lead your children by modeling intimacy with God. Rather than getting alone with God, invite them into your intimacy with Him. Particularly for me, with three kids under 5, I often find myself yearning for alone time. But, so often in our attempt for intimacy, we miss out on one of the most powerful teaching tools available to us: modeling.
How will our children know their parents get alone to have dates with God unless, of course, they actually see their parents sitting down to have a date with God?
I used to be so bothered by the interruptions to my morning time with God. But now I’ve learned the interruptions actually can be the most powerful teaching moments.
Yes, the Bible tells us when we pray to go to a quiet place alone and not to flaunt it, but when it comes to parents leading their children, it’s not flaunting; it’s creating culture. It is essential children see their mom and dad championing alone time with God. Whether your children are tiny, bigger, teenagers, or grown, parents have the privilege to model and show their children they value sitting at the feet of Jesus.
At the end of the day, making the secret place not so secret will make children ready and hungry to make their intimacy with God their greatest gift to the world.
- Cultivating space for them to be intimate with God
Parents, you can lead your children by cultivating space for them to be intimate with God. This is a little different than actually modeling it. What I’m talking about here is actually putting the baton in their hands and saying, “Run, kid!”
While each parent passes the baton differently, there is one distinct difference worth pausing for, and that is letting your child wrestle through rather than rescuing them every time. In this way, parents can lead their children to intimacy with God because they will have given them the chance to build spiritual muscles and go to God rather than their parents making the decision for them.
For example, for a long time, our 5-year-old Luke kept getting scared and climbing into bed with mom and dad in the middle of the night. While at first, this was cute, it started to not get so cute. My wife had the spectacular idea for us to equip him in the middle of the night. So instead of us just letting him crawl up into our bed every night, we’ve taught Luke to…
- Say the name of Jesus
- Quote scripture
- Sing to God
One night he begged to come into our bed after a scary dream, and I heard the Holy Spirit whisper to me, “It’s time. It’s time to give Luke the chance to get intimate with God. So, that night we handed him the baton. I reminded him how to pray, sing, quote scripture, and call on Jesus, and then I said I would go to the living room just outside his door and pray for him while he went to battle with fear. I told him it was all going to be ok because Jesus was with him and that if he needed me, all he would need to do was step out into the living room.
But I left him because he needed to conquer fear, him and Jesus, because mommy and daddy won’t change the world, but his intimacy with God will.
No matter the age of your children, sometimes we have to hand them the baton and, literally or metaphorically, walk out of the room. We have to give the gift of learning to depend on God. If we rescue them every time, how will they ever build the spiritual muscle of getting intimate with God?
Parents, Lead Your Kids!
Whether it’s you modeling and inviting your children into your intimacy with God or it’s you stepping out of the room and giving them the chance to get with God themselves, parents have the awesome and mighty privilege of leading their children. That way, down the road, we can inspire them as youth to build God’s kingdom.
How will you lead your children today?