Am I a failure if my child doesn’t follow Jesus?
It’s painful to watch someone you love say “no” to Jesus or walk away from the church. Seeing a child settle or self-destruct leaves us feeling helpless and heartbroken. Well-meaning friends and parents may try to force them toward God and church, but often what they need is not discipline, but direction.
Obligation wears out, but inspiration from the Holy Spirit creates a heart change that lasts forever.
Three Things to Remember When Your Child Is Living Without Jesus
1. Don’t give up.
Your child belonged to God before belonging to you (Psalm 127:3). God wants even more for people than we want for them.
If your child decided to follow Jesus but is running from the church, trusting God includes remembering we’re not the Holy Spirit. It’s not our job to convict someone of sin, but to consistently love him or her like God does, showing that Jesus offers us a better way to live. We won’t change lives. Jesus will.
If your child isn’t a Christian, trusting God means you don’t take it upon yourself to convince him or her to act like a Christian or attend church. The first way your child experiences the life-changing kindness of God may not be at a church service but through a relationship with you (Romans 2:4).
Sometimes we avoid or wander away from the local church, but God doesn’t lose anyone in His family — all people from all times who belong to Jesus (John 10:28-30). God is not done with your child, so you shouldn’t be either.
2. Prayer is your best weapon.
We can pray confidently for our friends and family members who haven’t yet decided to follow Jesus, confident that God hears us (1 John 5:14-15).
It’s good to ask God to change lives and bring others to church; it’s even better to pray while we position ourselves to welcome them back into our lives and into our churches. Keep inviting them to family dinners and vacations. Don’t treat your kids differently if one attends church and the other doesn’t. Pray God changes their hearts and minds and be willing to help them follow Jesus when they choose to.
3. Give grace.
We can try to do everything in our power to make someone say “yes” to Jesus, but grace is more compelling than guilt. They may not listen to what we’re saying during this time, but the way we speak and act toward them can pull them closer or push them farther away from Jesus and His church.
Preserving the relationship is more important than proving a point.
Preserving the relationship is more important than proving a point. The first step away from God is usually a step away from the people of God. Likewise, someone moving closer to God often begins with stepping toward the people of God (James 5:19-20).
Relationships pave the way for repentance. No matter what someone else does or fails to do, we can love that person like Jesus loved us when we were far from Him (Romans 5:8). By loyally sticking with people who aren’t yet Christians, God can work through us to help draw people into a relationship with Him.