Training Our Children to Follow God
By Melanie Chitwood

“’Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.’” Deuteronomy 6:4-8 (NLT)

God’s Word teaches us that the spiritual training of our children is our responsibility as parents, but to be honest I’ve struggled over the years with how to do this. As I’ve prayed and tried different approaches, the following ideas have guided me.

First, as today’s key verse says, before we’re commanded to teach our children anything, we’re told how to live out our own personal relationship with God by loving Him with all our heart. We’ve all heard the phrase that “more is caught than taught.” We need to ask ourselves if we’re living out in our lives the godly principles we want to teach our children. Kids tend to be very sensitive to hypocrisy, so if our children don’t see us modeling God’s truths, they’re likely to tune us out.

Secondly, I’ve discovered that love is the most effective teacher. I experienced this firsthand in my life. I became a Christian as a teenager after my Young Life leaders took an interest in me, listened to me, and became involved in my life. They did this for years before I ever committed my life to Christ. Their love for me was genuine and I knew it. No one wants to feel like a project on someone’s Christian “to-do” list. That includes our children. Training our children in God’s principles happens best when our children know that we love them, we care about all aspects of their lives, and we value them as top priorities.

Third, I have looked for practical activities that will lead to great conversations with my kids. My favorite is when we sit down at the dinner table and each family member shares his “highs and lows.” A “high” is simply something good that happened that day or week, maybe something that made that person happy. A “low” is something that made him sad or unhappy during the day.

Sometimes our sharing time is very light-hearted and silly, but other times it’s more serious, leading to more questions and conversation. Most importantly, this sharing time provides an avenue for me to give my children some ideas for applying God’s truth in a very real and practical way to what’s going on in their lives. It’s become one of our favorite family traditions.

As we pray for His help, I have found that God is always willing to give us great ideas for pointing our kids to Him.

Dear Lord, thank You for the children You’ve given me. Give me Your wisdom, strength and discipline in raising them to be godly men and women. Let my life be an example of loving and following You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
A Mom’s Guide to Making Memories Last, by Crystal Bowman. Please call 877-731-4663, ext. 208 to order this resource

Do You Know Him?

Mining for Gold in the Heart of Your Child, Character Chart and Message on CD by Renee Swope

What a Husband Needs from His Wife, by Melanie Chitwood

Application Steps:
Try sharing “highs and lows.” This can be done at the dinner table, riding in the car, or during family devotions.

Let your children see you reading your Bible. Show them how important it is by not letting them interrupt this time.

In everyday conversations share some of the things God’s teaching you.

Try memorizing Scripture together.

Play a CD in the car of the Bible on tape or Christian songs.

Reflections:
When observing your life, what do your children learn about God?

Does your life reflect that your children are amongst your top priorities?

Do you play and pray together as a family?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 22:6, “Point your kids in the right direction — when they're old they won't be lost.” (The Message)

Ephesians 6:4, “…bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (NIV)


4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, thank you! This is an area of my life I struggle with. I grew up in a "do as I say not as I do" non-Christian home and I feel like I have to fight the urge to parent the same way. I have Jesus on my side and know He will provide the wisdom and strength I need, but I still have daily struggles with setting a good example. Thank you for your words. They encourage me.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was a much needed devotional for me. Not only was it a reminder of the importance of loving, relational parenting, but also of persistently wrapping my parenting in the context of God’s word. I've been dealing with some anger/self-control issues with my 8-year old son. Nothing too over the top, but we’re really working on softening our heart and honoring others with our behavior. Lately, I've been discouraged by our lack of progress and often feel like I am repeating bible verses over and over, talking about the same issues multiple times a day, and praying on my own and with him about the same old stuff. Sometimes I feel like I am failing as a parent. The opening verse was such a good reminder that I am doing just what the Bible commands me to do. Not that I need to tattoo Bible verses to his forehead (although he might really like that), but with the World banging down the door at every turn, the verse on the kitchen chalkboard, the biblically based conversation about why our family believes that a certain behavior is wrong, and the family devotions at dinner may be repetitive, but so needed. While it at times seems like God's Word is going right over his head, God promises his Word won’t return void. Whether I will see the results immediately or years down the road I do not know. But I choose to stand on this verse and cling to it on those days when I feel like I’m not being heard amongst the chaos of three young boys.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you. This is really GREAT and just what I needed. I regret that I got up late today but I am going to go back and ponder this. We have trouble with schedules and want to put God first and teach about Him at home but often we just settle with getting through the day. We have power struggels with our three year old becuase he gets angry if he can't be the one to say the blessing for the food. I don't want to crush his spirit but my 6 year old also needs opportunity to pray. You have really encouraged me and I am going to be pro-active to make my home a place where God's laws are taught and his teachings are lived out. May God bless your ministry.

Anonymous Sheri said...

This was a wonderful devotional and a great way to start a new day.Letting me know things I may be doing right and also ways in which I can improve my relationship with my children to help them in their walk with the Lord instead. This way the girls will then follow by our example and be closer to the Lord for it.
Thanks!!

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