Christian parents cannot truly guarantee that their children will be godly, according to an evangelical Christian author.
Marshall Segal, author of Not Yet Married: The Pursuit of Joy in Singleness and Dating and contributor to desiringGod.org, wrote a piece last week about the possibility of children leaving the faith.
"Across every nation, every culture, in any generation, one thing rises highest on the prayer list of any Christian parent, dwarfing every other request we might make for our precious son or daughter: we want them to know, obey, and enjoy Jesus," wrote Segal.
"We would trade in a heartbeat 80 years of cancer-free health, summa cum laude at commencement, financial stability and security, and a whole litter of baby boys and girls, if we knew that's what it took to see our sons and daughters love Jesus."
Segal wrote about the biblical King Ahaz, who, unlike his grandfather and father, was known to do many wicked things in the eyes of God.
"Watching Ahaz run away from the faith has always been difficult for me, but being a father has made it even more devastating. I'm suddenly able to imagine my own son rejecting Jesus and choosing sin after I am gone, refusing to tell my grandchildren about the strength, beauty, wisdom, and worth of our Savior," noted Segal.
"I could spend every day for the next 20 years sharing, teaching, modeling, inviting, and appealing — 7,300 days — and on the 7,301st day, he may still walk away. My heart isn't strong enough to think about it for long."
Segal stressed that parents ultimately need to understand that "success in parenting is taking today's step in steadfast obedience to God's Word, by prayerful dependence on God's strength, with open-handed faith in God's plan."
"Do I trust God enough to let Him decide what my child believes about God? As a father, if I'm honest, that feels even more intimidating than being tortured or martyred for my faith somewhere in the Middle East," Segal wrote.
"But if we are willing to trust God with our children's futures, we can focus on parenting faithfully today, while pleading with Him to move in their hearts and lead them to Himself."
Segal's column comes a couple of weeks after LifeWay Research released a study which found that the best way to maintain spiritual health among children was to have them read the Bible regularly.
"LifeWay Research then compared the results of all these young adults to find out which factors predict the highest spiritual condition," LifeWay reported.
"The top factor: Bible reading. Twenty-nine percent of the young adults regularly read the Bible while growing up, according to their parents. On average, that group has 12.5 percent higher spiritual health than otherwise comparable individuals who didn't, LifeWay Research found."