Several years ago I led a workshop about faith formation in children and youth. ‘What can we do or say to help them trust and follow Jesus?’
Is there anything more important? No, there isn’t.
Here’s where we landed. The best way to teach someone else to trust and follow Jesus is to trust and follow Jesus yourself.
Author James Baldwin said: “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”*
How true! Regardless of whether you’re an elder or not, you know that how you live your life backs up (or doesn’t back up) what you say you believe.
When we tell a friend, child, spouse, parent, co-worker or neighbour that Jesus matters, we had better be living like Jesus matters.
“Love your enemy…” (Matthew 5:44).
“You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24).
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow…” (Matthew 6:34).
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matthew 7:1).
“Enter through the narrow gate” (Matthew 7:13).
You’re right. It’s hard. But it’s also full of joy and meaning. Will you mess up? Yes, you will. But that just underscores how desperately we need Jesus. We are yoked with him, and his Spirit gives us life, rest and capacity.
The good news is that your faith is about Jesus, not about how amazing you are. But when it comes to leading others, we can’t underestimate the importance of sincerity. Kids can smell a fake from ten miles away. So can your friend. And so can everyone else.
There are fewer things more beautiful than someone who is genuinely seeking after Jesus, even if they’re stumbling.
The best way to teach someone else to trust and follow Jesus is to trust and follow Jesus yourself.
–Bible quotes are from the NIV.
–During this Sunday’s Q and A Forum after the worship service (June 12, 2022) I answer questions about temptation, assisted suicide, and the difference between a biblical and secular worldview.
–*As quoted in: Scott Cooper, I Don’t Want to go to Church: Practical Ways to Deal with Kids and Religion (Whether You’re Religious Or Not) (New York: Paulist Press, 2007), 36.