Why does a child need to develop spiritually? Whose job is it anyway?
Why does it matter if the Bible is taught at home by parents? Why can’t a parent just take a child to church and count that as enough spiritual training?
Why is it pertinent that a child be drawn toward faith in his/her younger years?
Why do parents need to be fully in charge of spiritual formation?
Why does the intellectual maturity of a child guide the potential of spiritual growth?
What role should the church play in the growth of a child raised in a spiritually
Whose job is the spiritual formation of a child?
Who can help the spiritual orphans? Why are there so many spiritual orphans?
God is not going to ask me if I was successful in raising Godly children, but He will determine if I was faithful. The choices that my children make are their own. Honestly, I often wish I could make their decisions for them. I would choose good things for them. However, all I can do is pray that they will choose the things of God. The choice is theirs entirely. Even though my heart does not follow that idea sometimes, I know that God created each one of us with a free will. Humans are not robots who are programed to love and worship our creator. In reality, the great joy of choosing to love and worship our Father God is completely ours. More importantly, I know that God loves my children more than I ever could because He created them in His image.
Whether a child is our own or a child that is placed in our path, we have the incredible opportunity to train them in spiritual truths. Open your eyes to see the spiritual orphans around you. They are everywhere.
What does God tell us about children and their spiritual growth?
The gift of a child is an inheritance from God. “Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.” Ps 127: 3-5
An encouragement from Paul to his young friend Timothy to continue in what he has learned in II Timothy 3: 14-15. We know from the scriptures that Timothy’s spiritual formation came from his mother and grandmother. Paul even refers to Timothy knowing the scriptures from infancy. Paul gives firm connections to knowing God’s Word from a young age and wisdom which leads to salvation. Timothy’s younger years of spiritual tutelage built the foundation of the spiritual man he was when he traveled with Paul on his missionary’s journeys.
“Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deut. 6:7)ESV To bring spiritual truths into the practical everyday life, a parent needs to know them, apply them to daily living and repeat, repeat, repeat. This instruction in Deuteronomy implies ongoing instruction.
If we understand the underlying instruction directed at the parents who are the nearest to a child on an hourly basis, the immense potential for training time reveals the gravity of this directive. It does matter that a parent be sober and serious about his training. If a parent absorbs the honor of being given the opportunity to nurture a young soul in his or her spiritual formation, the significance of parenting the spiritual maturity of a child leads to a sense of humility. To be entrusted with the guidance of one’s spiritual formation is certainly weighty work.
Who will step forward to grab hold of this opportunity?
God intends for a mom and dad to share the partnership of parenting. In truth, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 18.4 million children, 1 in 4, live without a biological, step, or adoptive father in the home. That’s enough children to fill New York City twice or Los Angeles four times over. So, the reality is that only a small percentage of children will have a mom and a dad to teach them about God and His Word.
Another challenge is in the admittedly undeveloped spiritual maturity of many parents. If you are reading this blog and feel less than capable to lead spiritually, let me encourage you. You don’t have to be a pastor, a theologian or even a small group teacher. You just have to love your child and be willing to train your child regularly. This reminds me of the packets of seeds that were carefully planted inside in trays. After careful watering and replanting in a fertilized raised bed, they have grown into plants larger than me producing fruit and vegetables.
Living beside your child daily gives you the perfect opportunity to grow seeds and watch them develop. Loving your child well will always require a parent to grow, to change and improve. If you are new to a relationship with God, if you did not grow up in a spiritual home, if you have neglected the Word of God yourself for a while, if you are shy about this topic or if you just don’t have a clue about what the day to day of training your child in this way would look like for you … don’t worry. As you develop an appetite for God and His Word, His wisdom will grow in you. A growing Christian is going to make the very best teacher of a child. The enthusiasm that bubbles up in us as we are discovering new truth will be contagious as we share with our child.
How do I unpack an answer for the everyday struggles of life?
In my spiritual journey, my mother guided me to pay attention to who God is as I study His Word. I look for God’s characteristics in everyday reading, in studying and in how he teaches me through life. Pursue any opportunity to mature in spiritual knowledge and understanding. Know God’s heart. Know spiritual truths.
Tim and I have a podcast entitled Embrace Your Everyday aimed at providing practical ideas and inspiration on home and family. The big idea behind this podcast is that it is the things we do daily that make up the sum of our lives. Here are some ideas of what you can do each day to do the job of spiritual formation with your child:
- Read the Bible yourself.
- Search the scripture daily to discover wisdom.
- Read out loud to your child or family.
- Invite all of your family members to each participate in reading the Bible. Take turns. Pass it around.
- Pray out loud when you hear of a need. Stop. Pray.
- Pray a prayer of gratitude before each meal.
- Pray before bedtime.
- When faced with a decision, ask, “What does the Bible say about this situation?”
- Write verses on cards. Put these verse cards in your car, on your bathroom mirror and at your desk.
- Talk to your child about your spiritual journey. Tell them when you came to Christ. Share what God is teaching you as your read His Word.
- Spend time with Godly people.
Your child is delighted to spend time with you. As you plant seeds daily in your child’s spiritual formation, he will grow consistently. Yes, there are a great many resources that could compliment your efforts. Aim to be a competent Bible student. When your child’s time at home is complete and they enter adulthood, the time you have spent in these areas mentioned above will stand out as some of their best times of growth. Intentionality and consistency are the keys. Check out the blogs below for additional excellent ideas on this topic.
Other blogs on this faith:
Spiritual Blooms: Growing Other Children
Join the conversation on this topic at Embrace Your Everyday.