"Train up a child in the way he should go even when he is old he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6
Simply put – The writer in Proverbs says we need to prepare our kids for what they have been called to do, the things they will face, issues that will arise and teach them the way God would have them to go. The more we can do now with our kids, our hope is greater that they will not depart from what they were taught and know (This is not a fool proof plan). It’s never too early to start and it’s never too late.
Deuteronomy 6:4-7 – Moses proclaims to Israel, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
Moses tasked the parents with teaching their children the command to love the Lord. Parents were and always will be one of the primary influences on building a lasting faith.
In Chapter 24 of Joshua, we see children struggling to serve the Lord because of whom their father’s served and we see Joshua make a bold proclamation for his family. He had summoned all the tribes of Israel together with their leaders and spoke to them. “Hey, long ago I know your fathers lived in many different places where they served other gods but through Abraham God brought your fathers together and out of the land of Egypt. God has done great things for your family.” Beginning in v. 14 Joshua says, “Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. V. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."
Joshua says… Are you going to follow in your father’s footsteps and serve these other gods or are you going to serve the God who brought your family out of Egypt. No matter what you decide, Me and my family – we are going to serve the Lord!
Parents, how comfortable do you feel being in the spiritual leader role for your children? And what are some ways your kids see spirituality in you?
One of the best ways you can be a spiritual leader in your home, is leading by example. Do you want your kids to read and study their bible? Set time aside to read and study with them. Do you want your kids to be in bible class? Make sure that you are in bible class, as well. Do you want your kids to serve others? Make it a priority to have family service projects or participate in service projects at your congregation together.
Another way to be a spiritual leader in your home, is by having faith conversations with your children.
In Deuteronomy, Moses called for parents to have faith conversations with their children. A lot of times we skip over opportunities to discuss our faith or why we do certain things because it makes us feel awkward. Ultimately in order to face the issues that our youth will face, we have to be open to have conversations w/ them and talk them through it. The more faith conversations we have, the less awkward it will be.
For Example: My parents would always ask me about bible class and the conversation would go something like this... “How was class this morning?” “Fine” “Did you learn anything?” “Sure” “Well, what did you talk about?” “Noah” “What about Noah?” “He was a good man, built an ark, saved people... now, what are we eating for lunch?” Ever had those conversations?
You’ve probably got the same typical responses. Asking these questions are good, so keep asking. It’s even better when you can share your own answers to questions. The picture is painted by God in Deuteronomy 6:7. Parents are to share about faith when you “sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” In other words, as much as you can whenever you have a chance. Look for opportunities to share with them.
Why is it important to have faith building conversations? A family that shares together can get through crisis and issues together. If you are not comfortable talking with your child about spiritual things, your child will not be comfortable talking to you about spiritual things, trials, tribulations, or anything going on in their life. It's so important to have open dialogue no matter how awkward we feel.
When is it important to have these conversations? After anything spiritually related. It will help them understand why it is important to do the things we do (especially when you force them to participate). “Because I said so” or “Because God says so” isn’t a valid excuse when it comes to building faith. The more open you can be with your child about doubts and struggles with your own faith, the more open your children will be to having conversations with you when issues arise.
Do you have a set time everyday to discuss something spiritual? (family devo time, issues during the day, life, etc.) A good conversation starter each evening could be, "Where have you seen God today?"
Why is it important to set time aside everyday or most days for these conversations? Research says that in order to get in a routine of talking faith in the home that families need to set aside the same time, same place, each day, or at least most days. This is important, as well as, looking for opportunities to bring up faith such as after service projects, or Exposure Youth Camp, bible class, VBS, time with church family, etc.
In short, look for opportunities each day to talk about spiritual things, to discuss faith, and spend time with God together each night. Be open with your faith, your struggles, your doubts. Let your children know it is okay to experience these things and to openly talk about it with you.
At Walking In His Footsteps, we have made it a little easier for you by providing several weeks worth of family devotionals that you can use to help start faith conversations in your home.
Link: Family Devotionals
Andrew Thompson is the Youth and Family Minister at Rose Hill Church of Christ. He is married to the beautiful, Joy Thompson (who is way out of his league!). They enjoy sharing life together, ministering to teens and families, football in Tuscaloosa (Roll Tide!), and musical theatre. Andrew is a proud supporter of sarcasm and dry sense of humors. Thank you for reading!