The One Thing I Want My Kids to Know About This Christian Life

I have spent my parenting journey making a conscious decision to impart Jesus to my kids through intentional Christian living.

In the last twelve years, we’ve taken our kids to more than 5,000 church services, bought them dozens of Christian t-shirts, own a slew of inspirational fiction and non-fiction books, have attended bi-weekly community group, support nine Compassion children and do regular weekly devotions. We have 7 versions of the Bible, 3 Nativity sets, audio CD’s on inspirational living and countless worship and Christian music albums.  We’ve traveled to Kenya the last two summers as a family and volunteer (daily) at the non-profit our family started.

If anything, we will die trying.

The other night we were doing “highs and lows” of our summer around the dinner table. We talked about the ups and downs of our trip across the country and even about some of the attention our family has received for doing what many call “extraordinary.”

And that’s when I knew we had to teach them the most important lesson yet in this parenting journey.

Because the older I get and the more we do, the more I’m convinced that only one thing really matters: I can spend a lot of time, money and energy being a Christian, but if we don’t have love, we have nothing. Above all, I want my children to love others.

I want them to understand that saying yes to God (Mercy House) doesn’t make our family special and it (shouldn’t) doesn’t make us different.

It simply makes us Christians.

At the end of the day after we’ve painted or taken brownies to a new neighbor or searched the couches for loose change to “change the world”, we do every bit of it for one reason: Because we love Jesus and that makes us love others and loving others magnifies our love for Jesus.

I want them to grow up thinking it’s normal to dirty their hands helping others, wherever that takes them and it just happens to have taken us to the continent of Africa. Our world likes to put a size on things and bigger is better. But in God’s economy, love always wins.

I want my children to know serving (locally and globally) is a key to true Christianity.

I want them to know that is where they will find Jesus.



  1. 1


    Good reminders. And most especially, what makes us Christians is His grace that leads us to His feet…and our choosing to respond to the individual callings He gives each of us. Because, “saving the world” is His job and He uses us each so differently. I don’t want my kids to think that they are less than because they aren’t traveling the world or starting non-profits…I want them to think they are remarkable simply because He made them that way. Because He called them to His heart, not because THEY did any thing.

    • 1.1


      My thoughts exactly! Jesus said if you love me you will obey my commands. Our obedience and love for others is an outpouring from a life that has said yes to Jesus, to loving and following HIM…. out of the relationship we have with him that compels us to “do”. Sometimes it can be hard to find that “balance” between being Mary but also not stopping there and taking what we have learned from sitting at his feet to others, but not allowing ourselves to get caught up in the doing (like I think Martha did)!

      She meant well, but it was Mary Jesus commended. If we do not get the “Mary” part right first (which I know Kristen has and does as is evident in her writing!)…. the Martha part “can” be for naught… especially if some confuse the works with true salvation!

  2. 2


    While I was reading this I was thinking, “Oh, Kristen, I’m SURE they know,” and then it hit me–just because I see Christ in YOU, while I see your obedience to this call of God in your life, it’s plain dangerous to ASSUME your kids get it. Years ago, while having a conversation with my oldest, I learned that lesson. Though I don’t recall the specifics, I remember asking her to explain back to me WHY we made a certain choice; she assumed WRONGLY. What I thought was obvious wasn’t to her!

    Sooo, instead of blowing air up your skirt and applauding what I’d wager your kids already know, I’m high fiving you for not making any assumptions and TELLING them what you want them to know (and of course, LIVING it goes a long way, too :) ).


  3. 3

    guest says

    And yet…you can do all those things and your child(ren) may still choose to not follow Him, or choose to love and serve others. The absolute hardest parenting lesson I’ve learned is that my children have a choice – and their choices may not be what I want them to choose. I thought I “had it in the bag” with my oldest – he experienced God at camp, went on missions trips and came back sharing so much that he had learned, his faith seemed strong. And then he turned his back on God. And he’s not a bad kid now. He still loves others. And I almost did kill myself trying – but I’m learning that it’s not about me and what I do. Should I have done things differently? Probably. Did I make mistakes? Of course. But God is showing me that my kids have free will, much as I wish I could just make them believe what I want them to. But love always wins. That’s what I’m holding onto.

    • 3.1


      Hi fellow sister – I’m praying for your son and for you – my husband was raised the same way and went through a same experience as your son. He did come back to the Lord, and I pray the same happens with your son. Keep loving and keep praying (((hugs))))

  4. 6


    An absolute amen!

    In the end, it’s all about loving well. Not attendance here or running there or checking all the good things we do off our nice Christian to-do list.

    And now … to model, to live, to be what we preach to the next generation!

  5. 8


    And that, they will! You may only see a tiny glimpse into what your lifestyle (Following Christ, literally) means to your kids now. But wait.
    They will be young adults in the blink of an eye and you will explode with joy at the people God molds them to be (because of your choices)!

    You’ll see. They haven’t missed your message. They are loving and will continue to do so. 😉

  6. 9


    Lovely…and liked that saucy photo too. It’s wonderful to read your inspiration, Kristen. I realize it’s a pretty simple message you’re conveying here, but it is the heart of the Gospel, after all.

  7. 14

    Rachelle says

    I grew up in a Christian home, I would call my parents radical Christians. They had bible studies, went to church weekly, read their bible daily. Only listened to Christian music and family friendly television. They believed in raising us right and never used foul language. They always tried to discipline in love. I remember though they would try to drag us to church when we were teens, my brother and I eventually stopped going. We didn’t like being pressured into going, also because we would get bored in the services. But through everything I have to say that what stood out the most to me about my parents was how much they loved others. So even if everything else became all too much for me, that kept with me. I have three boys now and even though I don’t do everything like my parents used to when they were raising us to be good Christians, I have my own take on the world and what I can an see is that there are a lot of hurting people out there. We should be in the thick of it, reaching out. Going to church is great and having fellowship with other Christians is wonderful, but I don’t want to spend my entire adult life behind walls of a chapel. I want to raise my kids to get out there and to reach others. God’s love is what it’s all about, getting that message out should be number one.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>