How Do I Train My Children to Know and Love God?
Let’s pick up our conversation from last week. If you would like to read the background for this post, please start with November 3rd: “What Question Are Parents Not Asking?”
We were talking about the primary responsibility of Christian parents. According to both the Old and New Testament, our primary responsibility is to train our children to know and love God. The next logical question becomes, “How do we carry out this task?”
Training our kids to know and love God is very personal. There is not one plan that fits every family. Schedules are different, ages are different, and sometimes our theology is different. Each parent can develop their own plan by keeping several key truths in mind. Use the statements below as guiding thoughts for developing your personal plan.
- It’s never too early to begin training. Pray over them while their still in the womb. Read the Word to them. Teach them about who God is and what He has done for them. They may not understand everything at the time, but there is much to be said for repeated exposure. Start early.
- The primary teaching environment is in the home. The church can only support and encourage what’s taking place at home. It’s great to bring your kids to church. That’s good! But do not equate church attendance with training your children in the knowledge of God. There are many kids who have grown up in the church, left home, and never looked back! Going to church is not enough. It is the responsibility of the parents to train their kids to know and love God.
- Training happens consistently throughout the day—not just in focused teaching moments. Many Christian families do a family devotional time. That’s great. I encourage you to have those times with your family. However, God opens incredible moments throughout the day to teach. It could be while doing chores, watching TV, walking in the yard, and eating a meal. There are always principles to share, people to pray for, and creation to explore. So many of these moments enable parents to teach about God, His faithfulness, His plan for their lives, His love, creativity, blessings, etc. Train as you go.
- There is no greater resource than the Bible. The parenting section at Barnes and Noble may have some interesting books, but nothing, nothing, nothing, should ever take the place of Scripture when it comes to training children.
Most of you know that I’m a huge supporter of education. I read constantly and I value the learning process. However, after spending as much time around academia as I have—I also see dangers. I recently had a young man e-mail me and told me that he was accepted to a seminary. He was excited and asked for advice. My advice was, “Do not let education make you stupid!”
There are entirely too many people who enter universities with a love for God and common sense; they graduate with neither one.
Academia is a weird bubble. This idea might sound disconnected, but I promise, it’s relevant. While many believe that the goal of education is knowledge and truth, that may not be reality. So much of the research and studies are being funded by private grants, government money, and previously established agendas.
Professors need something new to keep their tenure. Researchers need something significant to keep their funding, or something controversial to support their agenda.
Give it a couple of years, and watch the numbers change. The theories are disproved. Today, we are witnessing the harmful affects of “expert” parenting advice in the 60’s and 70’s.
Everyone will tell you that they know what is best for your kid. Remember the responsibility of the parent, and ask yourself the question, “Who best understands how to train my kids to know and love God?” The answer is God! There is no greater resource for parenting than the Bible.
- Find a mentor. A mentor is someone who has walked the path before you and has accomplished what you’re setting out to do. My responsibility is to train my girls to know and love God. Therefore, I’m looking for people ahead of me, who have accomplished that goal. This next point is critical. A mentor is not just someone ahead of you on the journey; they are someone who has accomplished what you’re trying to do.
Having a mentor will do a couple of things. First, it gives you someone to personally talk to. Books are great, but a good mentor can help you learn more in 5 minutes than in 5 months of reading. The second part of having a mentor is there is someone to hold you accountable. Books inform you; they do not check in on you. It’s real easy to read a book and say, “I agree, but that’s too hard.” When you have a mentor, there is accountability for the hard stuff.
- Pray continually for your child. Ask God to help you see teachable and trainable moments. Pray over your kids. Pray for their salvation, pray for their future spouse, pray for their ability to learn at school, and how they treat others. Pray that God helps you see destructive tendencies at an early age that will get in the way of them knowing God down the road. Pray, pray, pray!
- Spend time together. From your child’s perspective, they don’t know that you want the home to be a training platform. They don’t know that you’re consulting Scripture for wisdom. They don’t know that you’re talking to a mentor or praying on their behalf. But they do know if mommy and daddy have time for them. Don’t get so busy doing things for them that you don’t have time to spend with them.
Parenting is one of the greatest challenges of your life, but I also think it is one of the most rewarding. Before you ask, “What do I do,”—first ask, “What is my responsibility?” When our responsibility is established, appropriate actions can be taken.