We’ve been working through a series of biblical and practical thoughts on parenting. This is something I adapted from an article by John C. Maxwell.
Getting to Know God with Your Children: A Spiritual Road Map To Get Started
The moments a family spends together with God can provide an incredible foundation in Christian values, and it creates a very secure environment for us at home. It opens the door for us to communicate with each other in a unique way that will accompany us into our adulthood.
You can create a heritage of meaningful times getting to know God with your family. And you can do it without a complete knowledge of the Bible, without teaching experience, and without lots of free time.
Here are ten guidelines to successfully instill spiritual values in our children:
- Be an example of a Christ follower (1 Cor. 11:1). Albert Schweitzer once said, “Example is not the main thing in influencing other-it is the only thing.” Never underestimate the power of your example on your children. We teach what we know, but we reproduce what we are. Much of what we do today was modeled by our parents. Model Christ to your children.
- Keep it simple (Deut. 6:7-9). If you are experiencing personal spiritual growth and learning about God through Scripture, you have everything you need. Take what you know and think of ways to communicate it simply and clearly to your children. Keep it simple and make it fun.
- Be sensitive (Mark 9:33). Sometimes the best devotions with children consist of simply listening to their concerns and answering their questions. Jesus often did this with His disciples. He spent time with them and allowed them to set the agenda.
- Keep it short. The time you spend with your children and God does not have to be long. When kids are of elementary school age, try to limit devotions to 5-10 minutes. Anything longer may lose their interest.
- Make it exciting. Use creativity. Read Bible stories. Read Christian novels and missionary biographies. Watch and discuss Christian DVD’s. Pray about things they like. Use games. Many common games can be adapted to teach Christian principles. The important thing is to gear activities to the children’s interests-and keep them fun. (Deut. 6:1-9)
- Be flexible. Spending time with your children in prayer before bedtime is intimate and rewarding, but it’s not the only way to spend time getting to know God together. Do things in the car, at meals, in the pool-just about anywhere. Try to make each time an adventure. Look for teachable moments (1 Cor. 10:31)
- Be consistent (Deut. 6:7). Balance flexibility with consistency. Taking time to talk about God and pray should become a lifestyle, not just a specific activity to be completed each day. (1 Thess. 5:17).
- Keep expectations realistic. We can’t expect our children to react as adults to times of prayer and devotion. Sometimes their minds wander, or they might give disappointing answers to your questions. They forget things we’ve just taught them. But don’t despair. Keep in mind that the time we spend with them won’t change them today-but it will shape them for a lifetime. (Prov. 22:6).
- Be transparent with them. We do our children a real disservice when we lead them to believe that we are anything other than sinners saved by grace-real people with fears and faults just like them. When we confess our errors and apologize to God and to them, we show our humanity and our humility before God. We model a right relationship with God, and we also make ourselves more accessible to our children. (Prov. 19:1; 20:6; 21:2-3).
- Begin today. Getting to know God doesn’t need to be perfect; it just needs to happen. When you’re watching television with your kids, and you see a character do something nice for someone, during the commercial tell them, “That reminds me of Jesus. Has anyone ever told you about the time Jesus…?” That’s all it takes to get started. Remember: the time you spend with your children will reap eternal benefits. It is never too late to begin doing the right thing! (Eph. 6:1-4).