Cultivating a Lifestyle of Faith

Question

We have three teenage children and are looking for some specific ways we can help them go beyond knowing the core doctrines and the do’s and don’ts of our faith to cultivating a “lifestyle faith” that impacts all of who they are.

Answer

What you’re really asking is how can you build on your children’s “head” knowledge and help them cultivate a “heart knowledge.”  In Ephesians 3:19, when Paul writes, “. . . and to know the Messiah’s love that surpasses knowledge,” he is talking about that very thing—the difference between head and heart knowledge.

One of our Lord’s greatest desires for us is that we choose to cultivate an intimate, growing love relationship with him—that we make Him, in the words of that grand old hymn, the “Lover of our Souls.”  Here are a few simple ways to help that happen in the lives of your kids:

Let them see and hear you pray together.  Let them hear you confess your sins, mistakes, shortcomings to God.

Let them hear you express praise and thanks for little things and big things.  Let them hear you pray for them by name and the specific things you know that God wants to do in their lives.

Let them see how you listen to each other, ask clarifying questions, make “I” statements, and how you choose to understand each other rather than merely trying to be understood.

Show them what healthy conflict management looks like by sharing appropriate disagreements in front of them.  Let them see how conflicts provide a unique opportunity to HONOR one another and how who we are in Christ impacts how we do conflict.

Share some of your setbacks and failures with them, and the “learning opportunity” that each failure provides.  Help them see the reality of Romans 8:28 and II Corinthians 12:9-10 in action in your lives and in the process discover how it can be true for them too.

Memorize scripture as a family–even just one verse a month.  Yes, just one verse a month.  It’s not that difficult. Really.

These are just a few ways that we can help our kids move from “head” knowledge to “heart” knowledge.  Ways that we can make sure our kids don’t just know the 23rd Psalm, but kids who have an intimate and growing love relationship with the Good Shepherd.

Gary J. Oliver, ThM, PhD
Executive Director at Center for Healthy Relationships | + posts

Dr. Oliver is the Executive Director of The Center for Healthy Relationships, and professor of Psychology and Practical Theology at John Brown University.  He has authored over 20 books and more than 350 professional and popular articles.  Dr. Oliver has over 40 years’ experience as a Clinical Psychologist, Marriage  & Family Therapist and Spiritual Director.  He leads seminars & workshops both nationally and internationally on a variety of counseling-related issues, healthy relationships as well as Emotional & Relational Intelligence (ERI).

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