Your child's spiritual future might be at risk! One of the greatest investments we will ever make as a parent, is the investment into our kid's spiritual life. If you are a Christian, please understand that I'm talking about his or her ability to know Jesus Christ and live a life that is right with God. Believers know the value of this. Is it a here and now issue? Yes. Is it an eternal issue? Yes. As parents, we've been given the great task of raising our children to know and love the Lord. This is not something light or easy. Everyday, I'm finding out how difficult it really can be.
Just like we see the value of spending time with our kids, we have to also see the value of spending time on their spiritual formation. Nothing can replace the power of YOU pouring into your child. I'm a pastor, so I love the church. I believe in the power of the church to teach and point the way; but when it comes to your child, the church is only meant to be supplemental. It is the responsibility of every parent to teach their child to know and love Jesus Christ. With that being said, I have a simple acronym using the letters that spell the word, “time” that can help point the focus of our child's spiritual development where it needs to be.
T – TRAINING – Scripture says that we are to “train up a child in the way” that he or she should go. It is our job as a parent to train our kids. It can't be shifted onto the church. We need to personally invest some time training our kids spiritually. What does this involve? The basics…read the Bible together. Pray together. Talk about what a scripture means. Maybe even memorize a verse together. My wife and I have always said bedtime prayers together with our children. You probably have too; but don't be afraid to pray real “adult” prayers over them. Let them hear YOU pray. One day they will grow up and remember the things that mom and dad prayed over them. We have also recently started including the scriptures in our training. It's easy. Pick a simple scripture or two. Read it together or read it to them and explain what it means. You could even use this every day for a week and memorize it together if you like. The point is, just spend some time training your child.
I – IMAGINATION – Don't be boring! Find something or some way that will connect with your child. Try your best to make things fun and engaging. You don't have to be the most creative person in the world either. Our goal should be to make the time we invest with our children in spiritual formation, a time they will remember with fondness. If you're a serious person, like me, this isn't always easy. It doesn't have to be hard though. Go to a different spot. Go outside. Use your surroundings. Talk about things they've seen or heard and incorporate those into your spiritual time. Use a coloring sheet if that's age appropriate. Use a Bible translation they can understand. Lead them in a prayer. Somehow bring a story to life. Use visuals. Spiritual development should be one of the most engaging times we spend with our children simply because the creator God is involved.
M – MODELING – Leaders reproduce what they are, not what they say. This is a valuable principle to remember. Our kids aren't just listening to what we say about God. They are watching what kind of people we are. They see if we have inconsistencies. Kids pick up quickly if we say one thing but do another. We have to model what we want to see developed in our children. If we want them to speak positive words, we have to be positive. If they are going to have faith in God, we have to model faith and trust in God. You won't reproduce what you teach, you will reproduce who you are. Parents should pay close attention to who they are becoming. Eventually their child will be the product of what they see lived out.
E – ENCOURAGEMENT – Every kid needs a ton of support. They are going to make mistakes. Your child will fail. We need to be the encourager in our child's life. Kids will seek out people that are positive and encouraging. If you want to be the number one person in your child's life…choose to be the encouraging voice. Believe me, you understand this…because YOU need encouragement as well. How would it feel to have someone come along side you as a parent and say, “good job!”? If someone were to lift you up, and build you up, how would that make you feel? It would help! There is no rule book to raising children. Guess what…There's no rule book for being a child either. The only direction your kid will have is the direction you provide. So encourage them. Build them up. Raise their potential.
These simple thoughts on investing time in your kids spiritual development WILL pay off. I'm praying that God helps every parent that reads this post to make the most of the time they've been given with their children. Don't give up! God will equip you to be the parent you need to be.
I'd love to hear your comments about how to assist your child's spiritual development. Have a great day!