When a Child Goes Astray

Children Desiring God Blog // When A Child Goes Astray Long ago and far away, I had this little equation in my parenting mind: If we do all the right spiritual ABCs with our children, then God will bring about saving faith in their young lives (by 7 years old)…and just like that, in no time at all, our children will become faithful, fruitful followers of Jesus, doing great things for the kingdom by the time they are 12! That’s the way it’s supposed to work, right? Needless to say my little “salvation equation” for my children was naïve, to say the least! Real-life experience showed a more complicated path. Sometimes that path was confusing, heartbreaking, and even terrifying. Here are some words from Kim Shay that I found really heartfelt and hope-filled for parents who are experiencing concern over their child’s spiritual condition:

In a perfect world, Christian parents would teach their children the gospel, and it would be embraced quickly, and without incident. Children would go seamlessly from childhood to godly adulthood without a blip on the screen. As we know, we don't live in a perfect world. And the reality is that good Christian parents raise children who give them some sleepless nights and break their hearts. I know what that is like. If you have children who never gave you a moment's trouble, praise God for it! But for those of us who have had children who stray or struggle in their faith, it can be extremely painful. We feel shame and guilt. We may feel anger. But we must not despair. For those who may be in the midst of that kind of season, here are some thoughts.

  • Don't Take All the Blame…
  • Don't Compare Them to Others…
  • Don't Ask "What Will People Think?"…
  • Be Discreet…
  • Focus On Your Own Walk With Christ…
  • Trust God With the Burden…

(from “They are our children, after all”)

I would really encourage you to read the entirety of the article and see how she expands upon these six points. I would also add and emphasize:
  • Keep teaching the Word of God (Deuteronomy 6:6-9) and modeling the Gospel to your children, even if they seem bored or hostile to it. The message of Christ is what ultimately saves (2 Timothy 3:15-17; Romans 10:17).
  • Be earnest in prayer. Only God can bring new spiritual life to dead sinners. Too often, I relied on my own “great” parenting efforts, thinking it would somehow bring about salvation in my children. Instead, I needed to humbly cry out to God and trust in His sovereign grace.
If you would like more guidance on how to more effectively pray for your children, here are three practical, Scripture-based resources:    
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