Home > Uncategorized > Children Have Spiritual Lives All Their Own

Children Have Spiritual Lives All Their Own

We hear much about how it is the Christian parents’ responsibility to nurture their children in the faith. And indeed, it is. Likewise, it is the church’s responsibility to help parents by providing a broader community of spiritual nurture and equipping, encouraging, and supporting parents. One of the potential consequences of any passionately held perspective is to move to the extreme. For example, if a child grows up to be rebellious and to make consistently bad choices (or even occasional bad choices), it is sometimes automatically assumed that the parents are at fault. It might be asked, “What were they teaching the child as he grew up? Did they not have devotions? Prayer? Meal time Bible discussions?” But what if the parents did all of these things (or some other variation of intentional biblical spiritual practices), throughout the years and their child still chose a path contrary to Biblical teaching? What then?

No parent is perfect. Neither is any child. We all fall short. Donald Ratcliff recently was interviewed by Katelyn Beaty of Christianity Today. The resulting article is published online under the title Spiritual Lives All Their Own. Dr. Ratcliff offers a message of hope to those parents whose children may have gone estray, despite their best efforts to raise them in a godly environment. I recommend the article highly as a healthy counterpoint to the sense of responsibility we all feel to raise up the children among us as faithful Christ-followers.

To be sure, parents are responsible for the spiritual upbringing of their offspring. But children, as they grow up, especially through adolescence and into adulthood, take on the responsibility for their own decisions. We cannot control everything they do, particularly as they become independent and live on their own. I think Dr. Ratcliff’s ideas liberate us from undue guilt trips so that we can get back to the business of seeking God on behalf of our families, and confronting the real enemy who seeks to destroy both our children and marriages.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. August 22, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    What a thought-provoking blog post! As someone who deals with children on a daily basis, I am embarrassed to say that I’ve never really considered that they have their own spiritual lives to share with us, the adults. I’ve always just seen myself as in the role of helping them develop spiritually. Thank you for opening up my eyes to something that I probably should have realized long ago!

  2. August 23, 2011 at 1:24 am

    Glad it was helpful. 🙂 Thank you for dropping by to read and interact!

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