Chapter 5

How Do Imperfect Parents Impress their Kids with God?

Upon Our Hearts

You don’t need a seminary education to impress God on your kids, but you do need to be a person on whom God has been impressed.

Scripture and the good news of Christ must first and foremost to be upon our hearts. We can’t impress something on someone else that hasn’t first been engraved in us. Sure, we can fake it for a while. But our kids will find us out, and sooner than we think. Our kids will respect our genuine faith. Not perfect faith, but real faith. And real faith falters, but clings to the cross.

When I was in college, the famous violinist Itzhak Perlman played for an intimate gathering of students and professors. His legs held captive to braces due to polio as a child, Perlman labored across the platform to the single chair, center-stage. Then he took up his violin, and instantly it was his audience who was held captive, struck by the passion and intensity with which he played. That intricately carved piece of wood was not an instrument separate from the musician; it was part of him. When he spoke about the violin, he spoke with a tender conviction.

I could never speak about the violin the way Perlman did. It simply wasn’t a part of my life. But it was impressed on Perlman’s. It was on his heart, and because of the way he played it and spoke about it, he was engraving an appreciation for it on my heart too.

When God is upon our hearts as parents, it will pour over to our children. When my son asked me why God didn’t answer his prayer and heal his cold, I was tongue-tied. I was disappointed in myself. How would I raise my kids in the faith when I couldn’t answer a question about a cold? Then I realized that my son had prayed to God on his own! This three-year old went to God in prayer and asked God for help. Where did he learn to do that? From me. An imperfect parent—but a parent on whom God and our need for Him had been impressed.

And when God is upon your heart, your kids will learn from you.

Study: Read Judges, chapter two. What words are used to describe God? Read 2 Kings 22–23. What was the state of Israel before Hilkiah found the Book of the Law? How did Josiah respond?

Reflect: Do you have parenting trials or parenting regret or guilt? Reflect on how God’s mercy is immeasurable and how he forgives us fully, freely, and forever.

Apply: Write down all of the ways in which you’ve impressed God on your children—maybe without even realizing it.