Teaching our Children to Depend on the Holy Spirit

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As Believers in Jesus we are enabled to live pure, righteous, and holy lives through the power of the Holy Spirit. All gifts and fruit come through His presence in us. By God’s design, we don’t bring a whole lot to the table. Our efforts often don’t amount to much. But when we work as a team with Him, choosing to cooperate with Him, recognizing our need for Him and allowing Him to manifest Himself through us, that is when our lives begin to look more like Jesus.

Our children are no different. In their own effort, there is not a whole lot that they can do to grow and develop into godly boys and girls, with lives marked by character.

However, I think that as parents we can often subconsciously be teaching them that they just need to try harder to be obedient, they need to work harder to do what is right. If this is the lesson that we are teaching them, we are setting them up for a challenge later. First, we are instilling legalistic values…if they work harder, they will earn our approval and ultimately the Lord’s approval. Secondly, and more importantly, we are teaching them independence from the Lord…that it is THEIR efforts that produce good fruit in their life. These can be hard lessons to unlearn.

Even Paul acknowledged how hard it can be to do what is right. In Romans 7:15, he said, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”

If we as adults can relate to this in our own lives, how much more can our children? So, this is a call for us to give them tools that will allow them to learn to want to do what is good, but also to be able to do what is good. And the reality is that sin in our life can come from our flesh or from the influence of the enemy. But either way the power of the Holy Spirit is the answer to overcome it.

We must cultivate a greater dependence on the Holy Spirit. When we depend on the Holy Spirit and allow His power and character to operate through us, we are then able to make good choices and, in the process, our hearts and minds are transformed into the likeness of Jesus.

Training Our Kids to Rely on the Holy Spirit

Dependence on the Holy Spirit is what I like to call a “life skill.” It is an essential part of life as a believer and we have the opportunity to be teaching our children what it looks like for them now, when they are young, so that it becomes ingrained in them in a way that will benefit them for the rest of their life.

So how do we do this?

We need to teach our children how to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in their lives. Here are some practical ways that I have done this with my own children:

  1. We make it a priority to welcome the Holy Spirit to join us at the beginning of every day. Obviously, the Holy Spirit dwells inside of us, but welcoming His tangible presence creates a greater awareness of Him. Now, anytime I refer to the 3 of us (me and my two children), they correct me and remind me that there is actually 4 of us (me, my two children, and the Holy Spirit). They are becoming aware of His very real presence and making a place for Him in their daily lives.
  2. In tough moments of conflict, disobedience, bad attitudes, etc. I stop and remind them to ask the Holy Spirit for His help. I often offer to help them pray into this and just lead them in a simple prayer acknowledging what is going on and asking the Holy Spirit to be strong in them and to be their Helper to choose what is good and right.
  3. When they make good choices, I verbally recognize them and affirm how great it was that they cooperated with the Holy Spirit in that moment. This teaches them that it is His strength at work in them and not their own.
  4. Give them scriptures to use that are specific to the hard moments they are in. Speaking out truth, brings them into agreement with the Holy Spirit and makes it easier for them to lean on Him.
  5. Last, but certainly not least, we must model a high value for our own dependence on the Holy Spirit. More than anything else that we can do, showing our children by example that we are completely dependent on Him, that we walk, side by side with Him, that we never outgrow a need for Him is one of the greatest gifts we can give our children.

Our culture promotes independence….independence in relationships and independence from God. Let us instead teach our children a healthy dependence. We will save them years of heartache and be giving them tools to walk closely with the Lord now and for the rest of their lives.

 

 

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