As Christian parents, one of the most important things we can do for our children is to introduce them to God and to train them up according to Biblical principles. During their formative years, it is easy for us to teach and influence what they believe as we naturally talk to them about who God is, read the Bible to them, pray with them, and expose them to Biblical principles on a daily basis. We engage with them and teach them in infinite ways by our words, deeds, actions, and reactions.
We teach our children about God based on what we believe. We pray with them. We show them how to treat others. And we expect them to accept and believe what they are taught. Generally, this is the case. However, as they get older and start to develop personal relationships with God for themselves, they may begin to ask questions about biblical passages that may be difficult to answer. They may have doubts about beliefs they’ve been taught over the years based on their own interpretations – or even challenge God’s very existence.
Therefore, it’s imperative that we, ourselves, are grounded in knowledge and truth and have a strong relationship with God. We can’t lead the way if we don’t know the way! Cementing a foundation of faith takes time, consistency, and patience. Even kids brought up in the “best Christian homes” can sometimes get into a spiritual rut when it comes to their faith. As we know, faith requires that we believe in things that are unseen. For young children, this may not be easy.
If and when this happens, it's a positive sign that children are actually maturing in their spiritual walk. As parents, we should not be discouraged by this, but rather help them navigate the Bible to learn and expand their understanding and validate their beliefs.
Here are a couple of ways to help your children along their journey.
Buy Your Children Their Own Bible
Gift your children with their own Bible – preferably a “children’s Bible.” This will give them a tangible token to relate to and associate to God. It should be distinguishable from their other books as “special.” As we know, there any many versions of the Holy Bible – and dare I say that some are easier to understand and comprehend than others. Depending on their age, you may consider allowing your children to select their own Bible. It should be age appropriate, meaning at whatever reading level they are, so they can understand and enjoy it. Some have pictures that relate to the stories, areas to draw and take notes, tabs, large print, etc. Regardless of the “bells and whistles,” the content is consistent – and that’s all that really matters.
Read the Bible with Your Children
Teach your children to think about God regularly – not just when they sit down to pray at meals and before they go to sleep. Making family reading a ritual will not only keep them engaged and connected with God and help them strengthen their faith but will also encourage that faith to transform their minds and ultimately their hearts.
Introduce them to Biblical favorites like Jonah and the whale, Daniel and the lion's den, and of course, teaching them about the miraculous story of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus, just to name a few.
Practice Spiritual Discipline
Incorporate spiritual discipline into your children’s lives early. Sending them to Sunday School is a great way to start. (On a personal note – nothing warms my heart more as a Sunday School teacher, than engaging with my four-and-five-year olds about the Lord!) Other ideas might include having your children start a journal and write down what they feel God is saying to them about the verses they are reading in the Bible or things they are thankful for. They can also commit to memorize one verse a week from the Bible or study the verses they are reading. Whatever they choose, help them incorporate it into their lives so when they grow up, it becomes a part of their daily routine.
Kindness is an attribute that we teach our children in hopes that it will innately manifest itself in all aspects of their lives. It can be as simple as showing compassion for someone in need, opening a door for someone, using manners and words of respect, helping someone in need, or simply offering someone a tissue. When we become less focused on ourselves – and more focused on meeting the needs of others, we become more like Christ—and our children see that too.
Let Them Serve
Serving others is a great way to teach kids to not only think about others, but also appreciate the things they might take for granted. From something as simple as volunteering at a soup kitchen or going on a mission trip - the lessons a child will learn as they serve alongside older Christians are priceless.
Remember – our role as parents is to heed God’s word to direct our children in the way of the Lord. Specifically, God’s word teaches us to “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
Let’s continue to do our best - and let God do the rest!!
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