I had three teens at the same time.

It was hard when they were moving from a family-centered faith to determining whether faith was for them or not.

I wanted them to believe, but loving God is a personal relationship.

One that I can foster, but not form for my child.

So may this is your resolution:  To encourage my teen in his or her faith.

But what is your plan?

Answer these questions honestly:

  1. Is my relationship with God vibrant and personal?
  2. Do I use God as a discipline tool?
  3. Am I willing to allow my son or daughter to ask hard questions about faith?

Sometimes we can get so consumed with our children’s faith or lack thereof that we forget our own love for Christ. Words may carry weight, but seeing you love Jesus, seeing that relationship thrive in your own life in good and hard times is worth a thousand words.

And what about using God or scripture as a discipline tool? Maybe you have used the Bible as leverage. “God sees you,” you say. Or “if you were a believer, you wouldn’t say that/do that/be that”. While that’s true in one sense, it’s not the entire truth. It discounts the Davids and the Marys and the Matthews and the Peters of scripture — ordinary people who followed Christ but who were works in progress. They went on to become great men and women of God, but only after time spent transformed in the presence and love of God.

Teach scripture. Share great devotion books by great teachers. Live a life of integrity in front of your children in both word and deed. But don’t use God to zap your children. Show them the wisdom of how to grow through mistakes, God’s grace, but also the adventure of discovering all that you can be through Christ.

And that adventure will lead to hard questions. I remember when one of my daughters went through a questioning phase. Her questions drove me to my knees. You see, I wasn’t raised in church so the sovereignity and joy of God was clear to me. There was a definite before and after. But my daughter was raised in church, and her questions were valid. She was trying to determine if Christianity was real, and if it was for her.

I didn’t always have the answers, but I sought them in prayer and in scripture, and when there wasn’t a clear answer, I was honest. Today that daughter is absolutely in love with Christ and it’s reflected in everything that she does, but it’s her faith and not her mom’s or dad’s. It was a painful journey, but a necessary one for her to make her faith her own.

And last?

Do whatever you can to foster an environment where teens can take that next step. Help them raise funds for the mission trip. Don’t fuss when youth group runs long and you have to pick them up after. Encourage your youth pastors because it’s a hard job and they are impacting your kids.

Tomorrow’s resolution is #I Want to Let My Child Grow Up.

Making It Real: Whose Faith Is It Anyway?Here’s a resource that can help your teen make their faith their own.