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How Do I Make My Teenager Love Jesus?

Photo of Joanne KraftJoanne Kraft | Bio

Joanne Kraft

Joanne Kraft is a nonfiction author and national speaker. Her passion is for women to catch the Titus 2 vision of discipleship. Author of The Mean Mom’s Guide to Raising Great Kids and Just too Busy — Taking Your Family on a Radical Sabbatical, she’s a frequent guest on Focus on the Family, Family Life Today and CBN. Her articles have appeared in ParentLife, Today’s Christian Woman, In Touch, P31 Woman and more. Her newest venture is her podcast Grace & Truth Living, helping women to trust and follow Jesus in their everyday life. Joanne and her husband, Paul, once lifelong Californians, moved their family to Tennessee in 2012. They’ve happily traded soy milk and arugula for sweet tea and biscuits. Check out for more from Joanne.

This was a question I received recently from a mom. She reached out to me and was desperate for answers. “He goes with us to church and is fine going to his youth group, but when I try to talk to him about faith he seems so disinterested.”

How can she light a fire in the spiritual life of her child?

Is it possible to light a fire in a teenager at all? Unless, you’re talking about the latest app, newest video game or what their friends are talking about, you’re out of luck.

Teenagers are a breed of their own. They’re as fascinating to us parents today as we were to our own parents.

Prayer is always the first place to start, but then what?

Don’t Check for Roots

My herb garden is a favorite of mine this time of year. I grew Tarragon from a packet of seeds and when each tiny sprout erupted from the dirt I couldn’t wait to transplant them outside. My eagerness to expect big things was their undoing.

I uprooted them too soon.

What did I do wrong? I put them outside in an environment without exposing them slowly to our long summer days. I checked them and watered them and didn’t allow them to do what God created them to do (with Him) on their own.

The same can be said about a teenager who is open to listening to a mom’s heart about Jesus. Listen when I say this: The Holy Spirit is the common divide between interest or lack of when it comes to deep conversations about faith.

Faith in Christ is a supernatural gift.

The Holy Spirit is the holy element needed to lead all souls to Christ—including our kids. According to Ephesians 2:8, faith is not an act of will but a gift from God. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” As a matter of fact, grace, salvation and faith are all gifts from the Father.

Don’t expect your teenager to be where you are.

Our walk of faith is an individual journey. We rarely walk side by side with our spouse or our children. Sanctification is as unique as our fingerprints. With each day there are new experiences to respond to and learn from. As we mature in faith we learn to respond to experiences and with people more and more like Jesus. These are the steps that move us forward to maturity in faith. Our steps of sanctification will rarely put each of us side by side with the people we love.

I can’t expect people to be in the same place I am with God. There are some days they are way ahead of me and vice versa. This is why we need each other–iron sharpens iron.

Let your teenager off the hook and allow them to make mistakes.

The most on-fire believers have walked through life’s fires. Never forget that. Don’t save your child from the burn of their consequences; those consequences are what the Lord is using to lead them back to Him. We steal opportunities for their faith to grow when we step in and become God to them. When we provide their cell phones, pay for their car or their car insurance and gas, we are stealing. Stop being a god to your teenager so they can learn to lean on God.

The Best Thing I Can Do for My Teenager

A teenager who is open to attending church and youth group is a wonderful thing. While there will be those who are interested because they have been regenerated in Spirit, there are many more teens who’ve not been regenerated spiritually, but still are oddly curious about who Jesus is and what He means to them. Even more teens attend youth group because their friends are going–and that’s okay too! The Holy Spirit can move in and through any situation.

Share why you love Jesus—talk about what He means to you. Better yet, show your teen. You might be asking yourself,” How do I do that?” Stop waiting for your child to be enthralled with Jesus—model Him for your child, instead. How do you speak to others? How do you speak about others? It’s a great place to start. Here are a few more suggestions:

• Don’t wallow in self-pity.
• Do your daily chores with immense joy.
• Serve others without expectations.
• Give more than you take.
• Respect all people.
• Be kind.

Model your own faith. Show your child by your own humility, forgiveness and servanthood. We teach our kids so much more when we model what we believe.

Remember, our kids know us better than anyone. They know true and faithful living when they see it in us first. While we fall deeper in love with Jesus, there’s nothing to fear if our kids are not in love with Him yet.

Keep praying. Keep loving. Keep living like Jesus and we may just be the one to point our teenager to the throne of grace.

From Joanna Kraft’s blog on equipping mom’s to raise great kids at Used with permission.