I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth.3 John 1:4
For the Christian couple, the greatest joy is to see our children walking in truth. This sentiment is echoed by the apostle John in his last epistle. He considered the believers his “children” since he had been a father figure to them as their faith grew, and their faithfulness to Christ brought him much joy. Conversely, the greatest sorrow is seeing our children turn away from God.
The greatest influence we have on our children’s religious beliefs happens in the first eighteen years of their lives. Children listen to what we say, and they observe our actions. The closer our practice is to our preaching, the more our children respect our faith. However, the greater the distance between what we proclaim and what we practice, the less likely they are to follow our religious beliefs.
What if our children are already grown, and we failed to do this when they were young? It is never too late to say, “I realise that when you were growing up, my lifestyle did not demonstrate very well what I claimed to believe. I wish I could go back and live parts of my life again. Of course, that’s impossible, but I want you to know that I regret the way I failed you.” This, coupled with a changed life, opens the door for further influence on your adult child. None of us are perfect. Dealing with past failures is the first step to renewed relationships.
Heavenly Father, you know how deeply I yearn to see my children walking in faithfulness to you. I ask your forgiveness for the times when I was not a good role model. Please help my spouse and me to be honest about our failures, and may they not stand in the way of our children’s belief. Amen.