A while back, I did a few posts about the excellent study by Kenda Creasy Dean, a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, entitled Almost Christian: What the Faith of our Teenagers is Telling the American Church. Dean noted that the National Study of Youth and Religion (NYSR) showed that teenagers who considered themselves “firmly committed” to their religious tradition primarily attributed this to having parents who themselves were firmly committed to that tradition. (See my post on this topic, here.)
During my annual “Grand Rapids Book Binge” over Christmas break a couple weeks back, I spent a bit of time at the bookstore at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, and picked up Joel Beeke’s Parenting by God’s Promises: How to Raise Children in the Covenant of Grace. Beeke has several very fine sections dealing with this very point:
Though children learn from what we say, they learn even more from who we are and what we do. Our faith, our praying, our teaching, and our living must be parts of a seamless whole. Thus, the implementation of our teaching as parent-prophets necessitates godly modeling…. What children need to see is not a perfect mom or dad, and certainly not a mom or dad who never says, “I’m sorry.” They need to see in us an unwavering commitment to Jesus Christ, an unconditional love for them, and a strong bond of love for each other as husband and wife. (pg. 85)
You and I will never be perfect parents. Our children will always see flaws in us, no matter how hard we try and how seriously we take our calling. We are sinners, and they know that. So, we should let them also see our tender, praying hearts and dependence on the Lord. They need to hear our prayers for help and see from our lives that we need God. That is extremely important. What a tragedy it is when children grow up without seeing the reality of a dependent life of faith in their mothers and fathers. Parents, your children desperately need to see that you need God. (pg. 88)
Our children need to see broken and contrite spirits in us. They must see us confess our sins and grieve over our iniquities. They must see us plead the blood of Christ for our souls. God will bless our priestly intercession by impressing on our children that the one thing needful is to be reconciled with God through the death of His Son, and to be saved by His life (Rom. 5:10). (pg. 119)
I really appreciate how Beeke discusses “modeling” the Christian faith for our children. I can’t help but think that what he articulates in these pages meshes well with what the NYSR has noted about “firmly committed” religious teens.
The further I get into the book, the more I am impressed with its rich contents and mode of expression. It is detailed, to be sure (300+ pages), but it is pure gold! This is definitely one to have on the shelves!