How to Be Intentional About Raising Christ Followers

By Rhett H. Wilson
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email
Kaitlyn Weatherly/Lightstock
Rhett H. Wilson gives parents five ways to guide kids to become devoted Christ-followers.

Fans expected the American women’s team to win the 4×100 relay in the 2004 Summer Olympics. But when Marion Jones finished the second leg, she could not successfully hand off the baton in the exchange zone to Lauryn Williams, the third racer. This caused the fastest team at the Olympic Games to be disqualified from the prize.

When it comes to matters of faith, most Christian parents do their best to successfully “pass the baton.” Others, who have run the race of faith before me, successfully passed it on to me. Their lives and walks of integrity challenged me to embrace Christ and follow Him. As a parent, I deeply desired to not only run the race well but to transfer the baton of discipleship to my children. Here are five ways I chose to mold my teens to become devoted Christ-followers:

Role models

The Bible says, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Proverbs 13:20). As parents, we can encourage our children to attend church and help them find good role models to follow, because teens need to see adults who are living with integrity, practicing spiritual disciplines and walking day to day with Jesus.

When my son Hendrix turned 13, I asked five men to join us for supper one evening. The men already knew him well. Each man exhibited a faithful walk with God and gave evidence of an authentic Christian walk. I could point my son to them and say, “That man is following Christ.” At supper, each one exhorted Hendrix briefly and shared a Bible verse, challenging him to become a man who loves, obeys and follows Jesus. After supper, every man prayed for Hendrix, for his next step into young manhood.

Another way to expose our kids to godly role models is by reading biographies of notable Christians. For years our family has read stories about Christian missionaries, inventors, explorers, politicians and pastors. History provides wise and godly role models for our children to follow instead of the immaturity and irreverence modeled by many pop-culture icons.


Parents make the majority of the decisions for their children, and my wife and I were no different. But for young men and women to grow in wisdom and discernment, they need to practice decision-making. Ultimately, our children will be responsible to the Lord — not us. That’s why it was important for my wife and I to slowly transfer the responsibility of decisions to our teens.


Shifting the burden of accountability from parents to the Lord prepares our teens to be more successful in living their own lives. I began teaching my children to be accountable to God by giving the reasons why we’re supposed to do things.

  • Why tell the truth? Because God is truthful, and He made life to work the best when we model truth-telling.
  • Why practice sexual purity? Because God’s essence is pure. He created sex for marriage, and He wants us to enjoy it in the context of a godly covenant.
  • Why guard what goes into our minds and bodies? Because we are God’s temple. Our minds and spirits operate best when the temple is free from pollutants.


Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). As my children became teenagers, I emphasized one simple truth: You cannot live a godly life apart from Christ’s indwelling power and presence. They needed to know how to talk with God daily and how to draw strength from Him for life’s challenges. One day I may not be there to step in and help. But God will always be available to them.

God’s Word

Teenagers need to learn the necessity of regular Bible intake, which can be done through reading, hearing the Word and meditating on Scripture. I found Bible reading to be an invaluable part of the faith journey in the lives of my children. If I help my children develop a habit of reading the Bible, I am not just giving them a sermon but teaching them to go to God with their concerns and questions.

The handoff between faith runners must take place so the next generation can start its leg of the journey.

Copyright © 2018 by Rhett H. Wilson. Used by permission.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

About the Author

Rhett H. Wilson

Rhett H. Wilson, Ph.D., is an award-winning freelance writer, former pastor, former adjunct professor at Anderson University and currently a financial adviser in Greenville, South Carolina.

You May Also Like

Thank you [field id="first_name"] for signing up to get the free downloads of the Marrying Well Guides. 

Click the image below to access your guide and learn about the counter-cultural, biblical concepts of intentionality, purity, community and Christian compatibility.

(For best results use IE 8 or higher, Firefox, Chrome or Safari)

To stay up-to-date with the latest from Boundless, sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter.

If you have any comments or questions about the information included in the Guide, please send them to [email protected]

Click here to return to Boundless

Focus on the Family

Thank you for submitting this form. You will hear from us soon. 

The Daily Citizen

The Daily Citizen from Focus on the Family exists to be your most trustworthy news source. Our team of analysts is devoted to giving you timely and relevant analysis of current events and cultural trends – all from a biblical worldview – so that you can be inspired and assured that the information you share with others comes from a reliable source.

Alive to Thrive is a biblical guide to preventing teen suicide. Anyone who interacts with teens can learn how to help prevent suicidal thinking through sound practical and clinical advice, and more importantly, biblical principles that will provide a young person with hope in Christ.

Bring Your Bible to School Day Logo Lockup with the Words Beneath

Every year on Bring Your Bible to School Day, students across the nation celebrate religious freedom and share God’s love with their friends. This event is designed to empower students to express their belief in the truth of God’s Word–and to do so in a respectful way that demonstrates the love of Christ.

Focus on the Family’s® Foster Care and Adoption program focuses on two main areas:

  • Wait No More events, which educate and empower families to help waiting kids in foster care

  • Post-placement resources for foster and adoptive families

Christian Counselors Network

Find Christian Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists, Psychologists, Social Workers and Psychiatrists near you! Search by location, name or specialty to find professionals in Focus on the Family’s Christian Counselors Network who are eager to assist you.

Boundless is a Focus on the Family community for Christian young adults who want to pursue faith, relationships and adulthood with confidence and joy.

Through reviews, articles and discussions, Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live.

Have you been looking for a way to build your child’s faith in a fun and exciting way?
Adventures in Odyssey® audio dramas will do just that. Through original audio stories brought to life by actors who make you feel like part of the experience; these fictional, character-building dramas use storytelling to teach lasting truths.

Focus on the Family’s Hope Restored all-inclusive intensives offer marriage counseling for couples who are facing an extreme crisis in their marriage, and who may even feel they are headed for divorce.