One of your children’s most beloved books in your home might soon be your high school yearbook. Your children know you as a responsible (or somewhat responsible) adult fully equipped with bills, a job, and a minivan, yet before they ever knew you, a lot of your life had already been lived. Seeing your extracurricular activities, fashion statements, and funny hairdos in your yearbook open up an entire new world to them concerning your life.
For many of you reading this article, you also became a Christian before your children were around. Even if you became a Christian later in life, your personal testimony is not information that they inherently receive. The greatest story you will ever tell your children will be God’s story of how he brought redemption to mankind. The 2nd greatest story will be how your story intersected with God’s story – the story of your salvation.
As your children grow, they will have different levels of doubt concerning the Christian faith. You might even experience a child arguing with you concerning your personal beliefs.
While they may resort to arguments, they can’t argue with results. One of the greatest ways to teach your children concerning salvation and walking with Christ is by sharing your personal testimony with them.
If you have truly been changed by the gospel, they can’t argue with the fact that Jesus changed you. Depending upon the age, you will use different wording or select different portions of your story to tell, but you can’t begin too early sharing with your children how Christ made all things new in your life.
In Psalm 78, the psalmist provides an excellent framework for sharing one’s testimony with their children.
4 We must not hide them from their children,
but must tell a future generation
the praises of the Lord,
His might, and the wonderful works
He has performed.
5 He established a testimony in Jacob
and set up a law in Israel,
which He commanded our fathers
to teach to their children
6 so that a future generation-
children yet to be born-might know.
They were to rise and tell their children
7 so that they might put their confidence in God
and not forget God’s works,
but keep His commands.
8 Then they would not be like their fathers,
a stubborn and rebellious generation,
a generation whose heart was not loyal
and whose spirit was not faithful to God.
The psalmist shows the need to speak concerning three things: 1) the faithfulness of God, 2) the frailties of that generation, and 3) the potential of the next generation. He teaches parents that if they can only share their personal shortcomings, possibly their children could bypass those mistakes.
In sharing one’s testimony with one’s children, that doesn’t mean that you must give gory details. They don’t need to be scarred for life as you recount every mistake of your past, but they might benefit to hear that Dad struggled like they struggle, but Jesus made all the difference.
When the Apostle Paul shared his testimony in Acts 26, he provided a great example to follow. He shared what happened before (26:4-11), during (26:12-18), and after (26:19-23) Jesus saved him. A great way to start constructing your testimony to share with your children is by following that outline.
1. What were you like before Christ (really pray concerning how much should be shared)?
2. What happened during conversion (what, when, where, why, how)?
3. What has your life been like after that moment (how is Christ continually changing you)?
As you tell and retell your story to your children, you will be amazed at how your children will view the most pivotal figure in their lives – you (even if you don’t feel like it). Your story will play a significant role in their story.
If someone interviewed your child on your conversion experience, what would they say? Start working towards your children understanding what happened before, during, and after your personal conversion experience “so that they might put their confidence in God and not forget God’s works, but keep His commands” (Ps. 78:7).