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  • Writer's picturePaul Hargreaves

Becoming Faith Builders

Updated: Dec 8, 2022

I was 3rd of 4 children in a loving “church going” family but it seemed that during my formative years our Christian faith was mainly centered around the weekly ritual of going to church. As I look back, I recognize that my faith in God was primarily outsourced by my parents to the institution we called "Church". I was taught Bible stories, memorized verses but it all seemed more like religious education. When I came to a point of crisis in my life as a college student, I found that the God I learned about in Sunday School classes was actually supposed to be there to help me personally. I finally realized that Jesus was more interested in a relationship with me than keeping up my religious duty. I started to see a God who is loving, forgiving and caring who I desperately needed as my Savior and Lord.

I made a life changing decision to attend a Bible School which helped me learn who God is in His Word. Faith in Jesus suddenly became much more than rules and regulations and Bible Stories to know and recall. I actually found there was the person of Jesus who wanted me to build a relationship with. I found in Him the most amazing love I desperately needed. It was also at this Bible School that met the most amazing woman I would be able to follow Jesus with. Now having been married to for 40 years and raising three daughters to their adult lives I feel that we have learned what it means to spiritually parent children well.

When each of our three children were born I started realizing how faith is learned. I was increasingly aware that our primary task as parents was to introduce our children to the reality of God's love and how to begin and maintain the most important relationship we could ever have.

When you see how much your children learn from you, it becomes increasingly clear that faith is an invaluable gift to be received, and we as their parents are the primary ones called by God to pass it on to them. We are here to know, love and serve God — to love and be loved — which is why we must teach our children the basics of faith in Him.

Our children are given to us so we can teach them by example what it means to have faith in Jesus and love others. It is as simple as passing this life of following Jesus to your children. They are in our lives to also show us the character of God. I saw how my wife and I both learned to love God with childlike wonder and inquisitive minds as we parented our girls. Most parents know that they have a responsibility to teach their children, but it's more difficult to remember that our children are also in your family to teach us and help us learn about Jesus. Through parenting I hope we are all learning what it means to have unconditional love which loves others the way he loves. When our children look at us with devotion I hope it shows us glimpses of our Father God's love and mercy. When an infant has us up at night, a toddler has tantrums, a teenager disobeys or gets embarrassed by us, a college student doesn't call or come home, I hope you see that these times are helping you learn to love with the heart of God that loves unconditionally.

Help your children to see Jesus regularly. To find Christ in the world today may seem impossible but know that you can introduce your children to seeing Him in lots of ways. We can show our children what it means to see Jesus in others, in His creation, in other followers of Jesus who live out their faith. Faith is built when we look for Jesus together.

Before becoming parents we think we are up to the task and have developed many ideas on how to parent well. Once the children arrive, we may quickly feel inadequate, overwhelmed and discouraged. The truth is that the task actually is too big for us on our own. Know that the same God that your children need to know about is the same one that will help you parent well. Throughout your parenting and family lives, God wants to continue to make your family all His children with ever growing faith in Him. God wants you to be aware of His presence, to cling to an ever growing relationship with Him and know that He desires to help you parent the young lives He has placed in your care.

After having done Youth Ministries for 32 years I see how foundational the years leading up to the teen years are. As you parent your children in their faith development you can give them a better foundation for those turbulent teen years. There are times you may feel like giving up in the face of difficulties but know that God can take our loving actions and multiply them. In the miracle of Jesus feeding the 5000, Jesus doesn't make a meal out of nothing; he takes the food people brought and multiplies it. When we say "yes" to Jesus in the midst of Jesus being the Lord of our families, know that He can take the little we have and make it enough. He will give you what you need with what you have. Then we get to see miracles happen and faith the size of a mustard seed grow.

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