When I was pregnant with my first child 9 years ago, a popular song on the radio was Kenny Chesney’s Don’t Blink. In fact the morning I had the appointment to confirm my pregnancy, the nurse said, “Don’t blink. Before you know it, your child will be this age,” pointing to a picture of her two grown children.
She was right.
It seems like just yesterday we brought him home from the hospital, and in six months that baby will turn nine. Every time I go in his room, I think “it won’t be long before he trades in all his matchbox cars and stuffed animals for more grown up boy stuff.”
And my mama heart just hurts a little at the thought.
My five-year-old is turning into a young lady before my eyes. I know she’ll be a teenager before I know it.
Days are long, years are short. – Gretchen Rubin
Though I shouldn’t dwell on either of my kids getting older, I am not naive that these days are fleeting. I certainly can’t freeze time, but I can make the most of my time with them.
They are only this young for a relatively short period, and I only have a little while to impress our values and faith upon them. The Bible warns us to make the most of our time, because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:16).
While these 8 things aren’t fireproof ways to get morally mature kids, or guarantees that your kids will love and serve Jesus, they will help you make the most of your time in order to raise spiritually minded kids.
Equip them with a biblical worldview
We need to understand how essential a worldview from a christian perspective is to our children’s spiritual foundation. It’s not just a part; it is the very thing which spiritual formation hinges on.
What they think about God, man, knowledge, ethics, and truth informs the decisions they will make, determines whether they see the Bible as reliable, and affects how they behave.
By filtering everything they learn through what the Word Of God says, our kids learn the authority and inerrancy of Scripture and will be able to distinguish lies from the truth. Understanding that they are created in the image of God, they’ll believe in the sanctity of life and the great love of their heavenly Father not only for them, but for all people.
By informing them how the world works, who created that world, and what their place in it might be, we will help them develop a strong faith that is ready to meet the challenges and questions of our culture.
Know what their input is
As parents, we need to know what our children are taking in throughout the day. What types of media are they watching, reading, and listening to? What are they learning in school?
The reality is that children are quite impressionable in their formative years. And they are bombarded daily with “hollow and deceptive philosophies” that are diametrically opposed to the Word of God, through secular entertainment and secular education.
In one 4.5 million dollar sociological study, the results showed that children’s spiritual lives are strongest when their friends, family, sports, religion, and education “somehow” overlap. Put simply, all areas of a child’s life have to be congruent with his or her faith.
This study was written by a non-Christian, anti-homeschooling sociologist, but he is onto something here! For the best chance of kids’ faith taking root in their hearts and minds, all “slices of the pie” should hold the same worldview.
If one area espouses a radically different belief system from all the others, the child will end up with conflicting values. Ultimately the one he has had the most exposure to during his youth will be the one he defaults to later in life.
Look for teachable moments
Not surprisingly, Jesus educated His disciples and those around Him in the pattern and method set forth in Deuteronomy 6. Christ taught and instructed as He walked by the way, as He ate, as He drank, and as He lived.
He engaged people in discussion and conversation. He was available to answer questions. He developed relationships and used every opportunity and every circumstance to point people toward His Father, to challenge them and encourage them to more faithful, godly living.
Moms and dads should be instructing their children throughout the day, during their daily activities and in all the circumstances of life. Those seemingly ordinary, mundane things can be used to point them to Christ.
A sibling squabble or a fight between one of my kids and his/her friends can be opportunities to teach my children about grace, forgiveness, and handling conflict in a godly way. Disrespectful attitudes and rude speech can be used to tell them about how Jesus wants us to treat others.
Spiritual disciplines such as prayer, Bible study, scripture memorization and Christian service can also be taught and modeled if you are intentional about it.
Model your faith
Your children need to see you reading your Bible and praying. By “practicing what you preach”, they’ll know the Christian faith is authentic.
When we inevitably mess up as moms, we should also ask for our child’s forgiveness, showing that we too are a person in need of a Savior. The more honest we can be with our own failures, the better we will be able to lead our children.
They need mothers who can sympathize with them in their weakness. They need us to call our own selfishness, pride, discontentment, and lack of self control by name, turning to the Lord for help in overcoming those struggles.
Get the Word into them often
Like many books written in a predominantly oral culture, the Bible was written to be read aloud. This is what God told His teachers to do (Deuteronomy 31:11; 1 Timothy 4:13; Colossians 4:16; 2 Chronicles 34:18), and we can do this for our own children.
We need to also teach our kids to get into a daily rhythm of Bible reading. By reading the Scriptures with their own eyes, they can more deeply and prayerfully reflect on what they mean.
Our children should be encouraged to hide the Word of God in their heart through memorization and uttering it aloud throughout the day. It’s also extremely beneficial for them to copy (write out) Bible passages.
Singing Bible verses set to music is a great way to fill their hearts and minds with God’s Word, too. Start a collection of Scripture songs for your kids to listen to.
Lead them in prayer
My kids don’t only need a head full of Bible stories; they need to know how to apply what’s in God’s Word to their real, every day lives and struggles.
If one of my children displays defiance, frustration, disappointment, or just an overall poor attitude, I ask them to bring these concerns to God. Often they don’t know what to say or how to say it in prayer, so I’ll walk them through.
I usually prompt them to share with God how they feel. Next I have them ask for help in wanting to obey, or for peace and wisdom about a particular incident. Like with reading the Bible on their own, they need lots of practice flexing their spiritual muscle of prayer, and they learn to watch and wait for God’s answers!
Create opportunities for your kids to be a part of the Body of Christ
Our children are a part of the family of God. Thus, we have tried to get them involved wherever possible at church.
Being active in the children’s ministry, especially AWANA, has enriched their walk with Christ and knowledge of Scripture, but serving has played an even greater role. They will help out doing small favors for staff, collecting change for offering and missions, and looking for ways to be encouraging to other kids.
When I make a meal to help others out, they help me cook and deliver it. When we drive to church they think about who they can be a blessing to, instead of just wondering what they can get out of it. I want the body of Christ to be my children’s family- and to that end I get them to be a part of it.
Share testimonies with them
We don’t do this enough, but I believe telling of the good things that God has done for us helps our children see our faith in action and also reveals His faithfulness.
We’ve shared our personal testimonies of being saved, yet so often we pray and don’t share the answer with our kids. When we celebrate an answer to prayer, and make known how He is involved in our lives, we build up the faith of our children who are listening. They come to understand that God is our provider, protector, strength, and wisdom.
It’s a good idea to use a scrapbook or memory box to document the good things God has done. Regardless of how we keep the story, it must be told to our kids.