It’s no secret that raising kids is a challenge. If you’re a follower of Jesus then you know that your task as a parent is even harder. In honor of Father’s Day this weekend (for those of you that adhere to the American holiday calendar), here are 3 practical ways you can raise kids to love Jesus even when you’re living outside of the comforts of your home culture where there is a church on every corner and a Christian bookstore at every mall.
Tip #1: It doesn’t matter where you live; if you don’t live like you love Jesus, you’re kids will probably not love Jesus.
We gotcha, didn’t we! While we fully agree that life in another country brings stress that you just won’t face when living in your home culture, we also know that it doesn’t matter where you live in the world. If you are not a follower of Jesus with your heart, soul and mind, it will be very heard to teach your kids to love and follow Jesus too. Our hope is that the families that move abroad for work will be led by a Dad that understands and lives out the Gospel on a daily basis.
Tip #2: Every day that you live abroad, you must rely on the strength of the Gospel, not yourself.
You are probably the problem solver in your family. You are the one who provides for your family. You work hard. These are all good things that God has asked you to do. But you cannot do any of it if you rely solely on yourself. If you’re struggling with the language, and your kids see you get angry at the people in the market or on the subway, they will see that you don’t trust God to help you with something like language learning. On the other hand, if you ask your kids to pray for you, and tell them that you can’t do anything on your own, they will see that you really do trust in this God who has wiped all of your sins away. On your own, you really are nothing. There is nothing you can do to earn God’s favor or receive salvation. It is only through God’s grace that you can do anything. So show your kids that you really believe this by trusting Him in all areas of your life.
Tip #3: Relax!
We know, we know. You are probably in a high stress job. The company that sent you abroad believed in you enough to pay for your housing, and maybe even your kids’ education. Therefore, they expect a LOT. So be intentional with your rest time. Take a sabbath. Even God rested. Show your kids that rest is good amidst a busy work week. Show them that even though your work is important, your kids and your wife are your BEST work and they deserve your best. Make an effort every week to look your family in their eyes and spend some quality time with them, whatever that looks like in your area of the world (even if it’s watching you favorite American television show together on the computer!)
We’ve said it already, but we will say it again. The Gospel is all you truly have, both at home and when living abroad. Show your kids that you are a man in need of forgiveness for your sins, which is why you are able to forgive the rude taxi driver, and not get your features ruffled when someone cuts in front of you in the non-existent line for the post office. Dads who live and work abroad, you have a lot on your plate. Teach your kids to love Jesus by showing them you can’t carry that plate all by yourself-you all need Jesus.
What advice would you give to other Dads raising kids while living abroad?