I’m a children’s minister; have been for the last almost 15 years. I’ve been a follower of Jesus for more than 20 years. Been through seminary classes and countless Bible studies. Why am I telling you all this? To tout my spiritual depth and breadth? Quite the contrary. It is to “confess” that even though I should “have it all together” in training my own children spiritually…I most CERTAINLY do not. There is no easy formula or simple methodology to train your child to walk in the ways of the Lord. Do not be discouraged by this though. Just know that I don’t have it all together BUT I am a work in progress whom I hope you can learn from my mistakes and realizations over the years. Here are just a few:
MODEL QUIET TIME – well, first, back up a little and simply have a quiet time. My excuses were (and still often are) totally legit from having 4 under the age of 5 to almost 4 years of being pregnant or breastfeeding to the wear-and-tear of parenting, period. But not only do you need time with the Lord, you need to model it for your children. This may sound like you’re showing off, but you’re not. You are showing your kids what you hope for them one day. It is ok to have a Bible, journal, and pen out in a place your kids see constantly. Even better, do a little quiet time in front of them so they SEE you doing it. Note to self, use a paper Bible because as much as I’d love to say your kids know you’re looking at your Bible app on your phone…they don’t.
ACCESSIBILITY – our children are in a discipleship program that each week gives us an opportunity to review the lesson and sign-off that we have done so with our child. Let’s just say every week did not go as planned…for a long time…and I just so happen to oversee this children’s discipleship program. We had the best of intentions, but often their bags with their books were tossed into the closet not to be resurrected again until the following week of children’s discipleship. The only way we improved in this area was to be intentional. Now when we come home on Wednesday night, each child’s book goes right onto our dining room table. No, it does not “go with the décor” and may even get in the way…but they are there—visible and easily accessible. It allows for much more intentional bits of conversation be it daily or a few times a week. When it is in our line of sight in a heavily trafficked area, we can make the choice to use it more often and purposefully.
MEMORIZE SCRIPTURE – I, myself, have struggled to dig deep, focus, and memorize Bible verses. But you are never too old, or too young, to hold God’s word in your heart. We tried writing a verse a week on a whiteboard. Worked…for a few weeks until it petered out. We tried putting a 3×5 index card in our car to practice when we drove…total fail when most of the car rides are crammed with conversation and craziness. We finally have landed on a “sweet spot” for our family in buying the small Bible verses that decorate our home. What started as a decorative intention has turned into a monthly Bible verse that we literally read, recite, and remember each morning before school. The kids look forward to it. And even our 2-year old is reciting 6 Bible verses with eagerness and ease. Find what works for your family to get His Word into your hearts and minds.
CONSISTENCY – the final battle we must fight constantly is consistency in church attendance and involvement. The litany of activities our kids are enrolled in is endless. But we have learned from many wise parents before us that we have to remain steadfast and consistent in our time with God. For us, that meant telling the soccer coach that Wednesday practice wasn’t going to happen as it conflicted with our kids’ Bible study. While we may not attend the same service every weekend, we make every effort to pick a service to go to as a priority. If we miss Bible reading time in the morning, we don’t let the sun go down without getting it in somehow someway. Yes, there are some exceptions. We do not bat 1.000. But we remain steadfast, committed, and as close to consistent as possible so our kids know that God is a priority in our lives.