Raising Kids Who Trust God

God’s goal for all of humanity is not obedience. It’s trust.

Yes, obedience is talked about a lot in the Bible. But even so, obedience is not the goal. Trust is. And trust only happens when we come to Jesus and accept the invitation he first offers us. Over and over in the Bible, God goes first. Let’s take a look:

  • God calls Abram before Abram responds.
  • God frees the slaves in Egypt.
  • God sends manna and water in the wilderness.
  • He goes first when he becomes human like us.
  • He goes first when he stops beneath Zaccheaus’ tree.
  • He goes first when speaking to the woman at the well.
  • He goes first when offering his body and his blood at the table.

God goes first. That we can trust.

When trust is the precursor, obedience is the response. Put another way: The obedience God invites us into is a response to trusting him.

Here’s why this is important: when we put obedience over trust instead of in response to it, we deny children the opportunity to experience the same process God’s people were offered throughout history. Instead of a process, they get lists. Even if the actions on those lists are good, the list teaches kids they just need to follow the rules and be good kids.

But faith is not just about following rules.

Obedience without trust is simply behavior modification. God isn’t asking for us or for the kids in our lives to just behave. God is inviting us to get to know God, discover God can be trusted, and let that trust shape our lives. God doesn’t ask for compliance from those who don’t know God’s character. There is an order and a process and a purpose to the way the Bible talks about obedience. God goes first, giving time and space and experiences to show his trustworthiness to people, and then God invites us to choose our loyalty and respond out of love.

In this video, Meredith Miller examines Scripture’s larger themes to understand the relationships between trust and obedience. 

What God wants most is for us (and our children!) to know God. If we know—if we really know—we obey because God can be trusted. It’s not because God’s the boss of me. It’s not because God said so. When our children ask why, we tell the story of what our God has done for us. We tell the stories of how we got to know that God could be trusted, and we invite our kids to do the same.

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Meredith Miller

About the Author

Meredith Miller is a pastor and a parent who has spent most of the past twenty years helping families follow Jesus. She has been involved with Fuller Youth Institute since 2007 and from 2014-2019 she was Curriculum Director for the children's ministry at Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago, Illinois. Meredith holds a Master of Divinity degree from Fuller Theological Seminary, as well as a B.A. in Religious Studies and Spanish Language & Literature from Westmont College. She is pastor of Pomona Valley Church and calls Southern California home.

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