How to Raise a Decision Maker

Each and every day decisions are made. In fact, life is a series of choices--some big, but mostly small choices that make up everything from the foods that we eat to the clothes that we wear. Some of the decisions along the way, however, are significantly larger. Some of the biggest decisions that we have in life are: who to marry, what career to pursue, where to live and choosing whether or not to believe in God. As parents it is our goal to raise children who make good decisions.

One of these decisions is, arguably, larger because it has the potential to inform all of the other decisions. This single decision will affect each of our relationships. It might also steer someone into another career choice. This truly is a huge decision, and there is a window for it. George Barna, in his research, discovered that the probability of a child making a decision to follow God drastically declines beginning at the age of 13.[1]

Unfortunately, we are not able to make choices for our children--at least not these big decisions. Honestly though, we do not want to make this choice for our children. After all, our ultimate desire for them would be that each of them has a personal relationship with God. So, in order that to happen, we need to equip our kids to make good choices on their own. We need to model good choices and, at the same time, be honest about our mistakes.

We also want our children’s decisions to be authentic, especially their choice to have a relationship with Jesus. Parents often fear that this decision, although good, may be made for the wrong reasons. We are afraid when all of their classmates are choosing to be baptized, that they are following the crowd. We are afraid to talk to them about it because they might just choose baptism to please us.

So then, how can parents facilitate this decision? Step one: share your story. Talk to your kids about your own decision to choose Jesus. Tell them about your relationship with Him. Step two: study. Let your children see you studying the Bible. Study with your children. Model to them what a healthy, growing relationship with God looks like. Step three: integrate your relationship with every aspect of your life. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 gives us a blueprint for leading our children to Jesus. It makes it clear that passing on our beliefs is something that happens all the time and everywhere. Talk to your kids about the good and the bad. Talk to them in the car and at the dinner table. Let them witness your relationship in action. Let them see how your beliefs in God impact the way that you care for the people around you.

I wish that I could tell you that if you follow these steps, it would guarantee that all of our children would only make good choices, and that each and every one of them would make a decision for a lifelong relationship with Jesus. I cannot tell you that. Life is not formulaic. Each one of us is on a journey, and we are each trying our best to raise children with the tools they need to make the right decisions, especially the greatest decision of all—Christ! There is good news, however: We are not in this alone. The God of the universe, the One who can speak things into existence, He is partnering with us. God has done and is doing everything in His power to have a saving relationship with each of our children.

[1] George Barna, Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions, (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 2003)pp. 34