Does your teenager have a strong personal faith?
For spiritually minded fathers, this is one of the main goals and concerns we have as parents: that our children wouldn’t simply share our faith, but that they would embrace it and make it their own. Sometimes it happens later in life, when they’re adults. But ideally, we want this to happen much sooner—at least before they leave home.
Some years back, there was a study conducted by Mark Lamport, an experienced youth pastor, that focused on spirituality among teenagers, and more specifically, the factors that influenced their spiritual development. He came up with four factors that positively influence teenagers to have a more personal, more owned faith.
Listen up, dads.
You’ll see yourself in these, but even with the points below that don’t involve you directly, you can still have a strong, encouraging influence.
1. Adult Mentoring
In many cases, that’s you, dad. You can play a large part in showing your teen how to live out a committed faith in day-to-day life—through conversations and especially through your modeling. Kids are also influenced by other adults to help guide their spiritual walk. Coaches, teachers, neighbors, youth sponsors, and others can all be positive role models in this area.
2. Peer Leadership
If your kids and their friends have a stake in the direction and activities of their youth program, it encourages more active involvement. Find ways to get them more involved, possibly even playing a role in helping make the activities run smoothly. Or, you could volunteer as a mentor or help out in some other way.
When kids reach beyond the safe confines of their own homes and churches, they learn to live out their faith in a very practical way. They discover entire new opportunities, and often cross-cultural settings can be eye-opening for them. If your teen has the chance to go on a missions trip or extended service project, by all means encourage them to go. (And possibly volunteer to go with them.) Those can be priceless moments together that broaden your perspective on life and faith as you have known it.
4. A Teen’s Devotional Life
Like with everyone, your teen’s spiritual growth depends upon the inner personal disciplines of prayer, Scripture study and meditation. If they can establish good habits early in life, that will serve them well for many years. Ultimately it’s something they have to own, but it’s definitely appropriate for you to check in about how it’s going and maybe offer some suggestions or provide a resource or another opportunity that will encourage their growth.
Those might seem like basic ideas, but they serve as good reminders, because there may be no more important thing a dad can do than invest in his children’s spiritual life.
What would you add to these ideas? Share your insights and see what works for other dads on our Facebook page.
Action Points & Questions for Reflection and Discussion:
- If you’re a man of faith, who was the biggest influence on you? What role, if any, did your father play, for good or bad?
- What’s your view of a father’s role in the spiritual life of his kids?
- If your child is looking at you to figure out what a life of faith is like, what is he or she seeing? Identify one or two changes you could make to be a better role model in this area—and get serious about following through in those areas.
- Whether or not you have kids in the youth program at your place of worship, volunteer in some way and seek to be a positive influence on other kids.
- Sign up with your child—or your entire family—for the next mission trip or service opportunity.
- Invest a little money in an event, a book, or some other resource aimed at helping your child grow spiritually. Make sure it’s something your child is interested in.
- Plan a one-on-one getaway with your son or daughter to have fun together. Set aside at least a little time to talk about spiritual things.