Raising Spiritually Resilient Children

Have you ever met people who seemed to bounce back easily when they are hit with sudden changes or negative events? It’s because they have developed resiliency – the ability to pick yourself up, dust yourself up and keep going when life knocks you down. Studies have found that emotionally healthy families usually raise children who are more resilient.

But what about spiritually? Is there such a thing as spiritual resilience and how can you help your kids develop it? Most researchers define spiritual resiliency as using one’s healthy spiritual life to improve one’s resiliency in general. For our purposes, however, I want to define spiritually resiliency as having a faith foundation that is so strong it can withstand anything the devil throws at it. If your child is spiritually resistant, for example, he or she might sin when tempted on occasion, but does not let that sin deter him or her from continuing to strive to be obedient to God.

A spiritually resilient young person will endure the same trials as other teens might. She or he does not, however, blame God for the trial or cease to believe in God if the trial is not immediately removed in some miraculous way. Perhaps one of the best examples of someone who was spiritually resilient in the Bible would be the Apostle Paul. When he discovered what he was doing to Christians wasn’t pleasing to God, he adapted his beliefs and practices to better match what God wanted from him. When he planned to go somewhere and God wanted him to change his plans, he did. When he endured trials like shipwrecks, beatings and prison, he didn’t blame God or stop preaching and teaching. That’s the same spiritual resilience you should want for your children.

Spiritual resilience isn’t automatic. There are building blocks to create a strong foundation upon which spiritual resiliency can be built. Your kids will need your help if they are to become spiritually resilient. So what are some of those building blocks?

  • Bible knowledge and understanding. In order for your kids to bounce back easily when encountering trials, they need to know what God wants them to know about life and how He wants them to live it. They need to understand God’s commands and principles. They need to know God’s character and His promises. If your kids know very little of that is in the Bible and understand even less of it, they will struggle to be spiritually resilient. No matter how great your church is, your kids will not learn everything they need to know at church. You have to also teach them at home. Don’t forget to help them develop independent Bible reading habits. They will need to read scripture for the rest of their lives to stay spiritually resilient.
  • Prayer. To be spiritually resilient, your kids need to be in constant communication with God. They need a thorough understanding of prayer. Your children need to understand that prayer isn’t merely submitting an order to God for the things they want, but sharing their thoughts, feelings and concerns with God. While praying as a family is wonderful, your kids need to also have personal prayer lives – even when you aren’t there to remind them to pray.
  • Healthy Christian community. Christian community was designed to provide two things needed for spiritual resiliency – encouragement and accountability. Unfortunately, not all congregations are healthy enough to provide these things. If yours isn’t and there aren’t other options, at least look for strong Christians who can help mentor your children spiritually. Often Bible class teachers and older Christians are happy to mentor young people and help them develop spiritual resilience.
  • Patience and perseverance. Your children need to work on every godly character trait, but patience and perseverance are particularly helpful in developing spiritual resilience. Trials aren’t always quick. God doesn’t always make them miraculously disappear the second they pray about them. Your kids will need patience and perseverance to stay spiritually resilient when facing trials.
  • The help of the Holy Spirit. The Bible teaches that the gift of the Holy Spirit is given at baptism. Children before the age of accountability do not need to be concerned, because they are protected by their innocence. Once your kids are old enough to truly understand they have sinned and need to repent and dedicate their lives to God by becoming a Christian, they will hopefully choose to be scripturally baptized. When they are baptized, they will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will provide the counsel they need to be resilient. They need you to teach them how to both recognize and heed that counsel to be spiritually resilient.

Raising children to be spiritually resilient takes time and effort. Without spiritual resiliency, however, your children will find it difficult to be who God created them to be for their entire lives. It is worth taking the extra time and effort to help them develop it.

Published by

Thereasa Winnett

Thereasa Winnett is the founder of Teach One Reach One and blogger at Parenting Like Hannah. She holds a BA in education from the College of William and Mary. She has served in all areas of ministry to children and teens for more than thirty years and regularly leads workshops for ministries and churches. She has conducted numerous workshops, including sessions at Points of Light’s National Conference on Volunteering and Service, the National Urban Ministry Conference, Pepperdine Bible Lectures, and Lipscomb’s Summer Celebration. Thereasa lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband Greg, where she enjoys reading, knitting, traveling and cooking.

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