I remember praying a prayer at age 5.
As a Cubby in the Awana program at our church, I was slightly intimidated by the leader who took me into the darkened chapel and asked me if I wanted to go to heaven to be with Jesus. I didn’t know what that meant. I may have asked a few questions. I honestly can’t remember.
I do remember an air of importance surrounding our conversation. Even as a 5-year-old, I sensed significance. I also remember my parents’ pleasure at the announcement of my “acceptance of Jesus into my heart” as reported by my Awana leaders. They hugged me in celebration and smiled in approval.
But this conversion conversation was the extent of my Christian testimony, and over the next 15 years I experienced no true spiritual growth. In fact, I tried to live a double life of pleasing myself and others, all the while claiming a Christian status.
This long, destructive path came to an abrupt end when I was 19 years old. Thankfully, God met me in my pit. He gently and patiently revealed Himself to me. At 21, He saved me from my sin and from myself. He gave me Himself as my Lord and treasure.
Fast forward 14 years to our oldest son as a 5-year-old beginning to ask questions about Jesus, heaven, sin and Satan. My husband and I began to wrestle with the responsibility of our roles as our children’s primary source of learning about God. We were overwhelmed, terrified and ultimately humbled.
Our inadequacies pushed us to Jesus. We may have been tempted to push the onus off onto “more qualified” members of our local congregation. But God clearly showed us in Scripture that the responsibility belonged to us. Yet in His grace He also revealed the privilege and delight of leading our children to Him. We could only walk this road in faith that He would equip us.
We are still on this path today. Two of our sons have made professions of faith and committed to be followers of Jesus, obeying Him in baptism. We have discovered that leading our children to the Lord is best done through sharing with our children our own deep dependence on Him.
Do you remember who led you to Jesus? When people ask that question, they typically mean who had the “conversion conversation” with you.
But what does it look like to lead someone to Jesus? Is it simply asking pertinent questions about theology and the gospel? Or praying with a person as they surrender their heart and life to Him?
These simple, truncated experiences can be instances of leading someone to Jesus. However, the experience can be much more and far richer. These brief experiences can happen between any two believers, even if they hardly know each other. And that is good.
We have discovered that leading our children to the Lord is best done through sharing with our children our own deep dependence on Him.
But what about leading someone to Jesus who you know very well — even someone you helped bring into this world? What can that look like?
Deuteronomy 11 is called “The Shema” in Judaism and is considered the centerpiece of the daily and evening prayers. In this passage, God gives His commands to parents. Why? Because the children haven’t experienced God the way the parents have experienced Him. The children have not seen the discipline of the Lord. They have not experienced His mercy, His provision or His faithfulness. The children have not seen His power, His miracles or His justice. The children have not experienced the salvation of the Lord.
But the parents have. And because of their experience with God, they love Him, and they desire to obey Him.
It is no different for us as believers and recipients of the salvation of the Lord through Jesus Christ. We know Him. We have seen His love for us. We have seen His mercy and His miracles. He has changed our hard hearts into hearts that love God and want to obey Him.
Deuteronomy 11:18-20 explains that we must fix our hearts and minds on the Word of God, and then teach our children in the everyday rhythms of life.
Leading your children to Jesus is not a “conversion conversation” that you are hoping to have one day. It can and should be a constant conversation and lifestyle, revealing the reality of the God you love and His Son whom you follow.