Last weekend, David and I went to the Imagine Children's Conference in Bardstown, Ky. I had a table set up in the Expo area for my children's book, and was privileged to meet lots of really nice people with a heart for children and children's ministry. John Bennett, the director of the conference shared this with the audience; "Many families are "outsourcing" their children's spiritual training to the church." The purpose for the conference was to learn how the local church can involve parents in leading their children to Christ, and then discipling them in their home. And I do know this; when parents and churches work together to spiritually educate their children, they become an unbeatable team of caring adults in the lives of those children.
I am a fan of the Duggars. And even though I never had any desire to have a large family, I greatly admire Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar for their commitment to God and their strong family values. And their family and family values contrast greatly with the other shows on families that depict family life in America in 2014,
wouldn't you agree?? If you have watched the show, 19 Kids and Counting, then you know that Michelle is diligent in training her children and her philosophy is very simple; a Mom must first win the heart of her child before she can be effective.
As a Mom, I feel that I had the hearts of my sons when they were children, and if we are going to be effective Moms, we have to experience the "tug of that heart".
A few years ago, I spoke to the MOPS group at 1st Baptist in Henderson, Ky. The Mom who contacted me asked if I would speak to them about how they could do a better job training their children, spiritually. Here are 3 things I shared with those Moms (there were others, but these are the 3 I felt were most important) and I hope if you have small children in your home, they will give you some fresh ideas about capturing the heart of your child.
Our personality is a reflection of what we believe. Here are 3 ways to develop a belief system in your child that will shape his/her personality and honor Christ.
1. What your child believes about God will define who he/she becomes as a person.
There is so much mis-information and false doctrine trying to woo our children away from the truth of Who God is. As soon as your little one is old enough to put 2 or 3 words together, she is old enough to begin to memorize scripture. Mom, how much scripture have you committed to memory? Set the example and memorize scripture with your kids. Here are 4 Bible verses every child can memorize by the time they are 3 or 4 and they are foundational scriptures in defining the Person of God. (they will also win his heart!)
God is love. 1 John 4:8
God is good. Nahum 1:7
God is patient. 2 Peter 3:9.
God forgives. Psalm 85:5.
Love, good, patient and forgives; that is Who my God is and those are personality traits about God I wanted my boys to know and I want my grand kids to know. And when we teach these 4 things about God to our children, we are on our way as a Mom in defining the person they will become. Take the time today to teach 1 of these verses to your child. It is so worth it!
2. Mom and Dad, show your kids through your relationship what God intends love to look like.
As a couple, read 1 Corinthians 13 and list the 15 characteristics of love that you find in those verses. Then, make a commitment to live them out in front of your kids. It won't be easy......disagreements will come...you won't always feel "patient" and you sure won't always feel kind, self-less, and hopeful, but just make that commitment to have a great marriage and to do and be the best you can be; for each other and for your kids.
3. A doctrinally sound, New Testament Church gives children a firm foundation for life.
Don't be shy about checking out what your kids are being taught in Sunday School. (and please, for Heaven's sake take them to SS.) Get to know their teacher, ask them what they learned in the class that morning, look at the story paper, check out their artwork, make a big deal out of it and watch them develop a real love for the Word. Mom, your enthusiasm for the Word will be contagious for them. Come on, get excited about Sunday School!! And make sure you are getting from your class what you want for your kids.
The most important thing that goes on in any SS class is that the Word is taught by competent teachers who have the spiritual gift of teaching and a passion for sharing their gift. Bible stories and songs make a great SS class for kids. A small craft relating to the lesson and maybe a snack are great, but nothing, absolutely nothing takes the place of a Bible story told by a gifted teacher and kids singing to the tops of their lungs "Zacchaeus was a wee little man!"
Children's church is great if the emphasis is on Jesus. But personally, when children are old enough to sit still, (relatively speaking) what better place to be than in the auditorium, squeezed in tight between Mom and Dad, participating in the choir singing, and hearing the pastor preach the Word. Will they understand it? Probably not, but Philippians 3:1 reminds us that we learn by repetition. And Sunday after Sunday, sitting under the sound of good ole Bible preaching will make an impression on those tender hearts and minds and bring them to the place of accountability at an early age.
Know the doctrinal stand of your church on things like, salvation by grace, not works lest anyone should boast. (Eph. 2:9), baptism and other doctrinal issues. And when you and your husband have prayed and know that you are in the church where God wants you to be, immerse yourself and your family and commit to being faithful and faithfully bring your children there every time the church meets together.
Church plays an integral part in the structure of a child's life, and a great place to see love in action. A doctrinally sound church re-enforces the teachings of the home and together, the home and the church can lay down a firm foundation of belief in God, His Son Jesus Christ, and His Holy Spirit, and that shapes the personality of our children, and guess what?? It helps you win his heart!
And this is so totally off the subject matter of this post, but may I add just a little side note here, Mom? (I just feel the need for some reason.)
Be careful what and who you talk about in front of your kids. When we are discreet in what we talk about in front of our children, we will keep down the stress level and tension in our home. Even the smallest baby can feel the stress of loud, angry words. And children don't need to know every detail of the misfortunes in the lives of our neighbors and members of our church family. (read what Titus 2 has to say about being "discreet".)
A child's brain is not wired to deal with negative circumstances beyond his control.
We have our children with us for just a short period of time; let's win their heart, develop a strong spiritual belief in them that God is Who He says He is, and do all we can to keep the stress and tension levels down in our home by being discreet in what we discuss in front of our children.
If anyone would like to discuss this further, leave a comment, (so sorry some of you have had difficulty doing that, I hope it is fixed) or email me; firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for reading and have a great day!!