Part I - Introduction
Part II - A Rusty Plan of Evangelism
Part III - The Learning Curve
Part IV - Our Most Prized Possessions
Part V - NASA
Part VI - They heard Jesus pray
Part III -
The Learning Curve
A professor in one of my early seminary courses spent a days’ lecture on the fact that all biblical concepts can be simplified enough to teach a child. Christian bookstores offer countless Sunday school curriculum options because life-changing
truths are easy enough for children to learn. Still, many parents feel inadequate at “training their child up in the way they should go” as we are directed in Proverbs 22:6. Since we are commanded to be living, breathing examples of followers of God, then we need to bring the lessons home with us and teach our children during daily life rather than just for a couple of hours on a Sunday morning. It isn’t as a hard as you might think to insert simple teachings of Christ, you just have to be intentional about your reasons and verbalize, in an age- appropriate way of course, what and why you are choosing to do things a certain way. I’ll give an example.
“Mine, mine, mine, mine”
My daughters learned the word “mine” quite early. They learned it so well in fact, that each time meals were served, a toy was found, or sweet treats were shared, I felt like I was in the scene of Finding Nemo when the pelicans saw Marlin and Dorey on the dock and began all calling “mine, mine, mine, mine”. This attempt at putting oneself first isn’t new to the world and I am sure you, as a parent, have experienced the same feelings of being raided by the kids when your hands are full of lollipops from the bank teller. To curb this early, we began teaching the basic biblical concept of serving others first. When sippy cups were filled, one child had to hand out all the others before serving herself. This is a great way to teach servant hood to a small child. For a preteen, this concept could be displayed by allowing your child to observe how to pay monthly bills and how you prioritize giving through tithes and offerings as a family, then expect him to do the same with his own funds. For older kids, serving others first can be taught through training your highschooler to offer the family computer to others before parking in the desk chair for an evening of chatting with friends or polishing up their online profile webpage. Are you getting the point? While still young, our children can learn the concepts of basic biblical living, we just have to teach each point of discipleship at age-appropriate levels with everyday language and applications- just like Jesus did for his first followers!
In his book, Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions, George Barna writes, “if you connect with children today, effectively teaching them biblical principles and foundations from the start, then you will see the fruit of the effort blossom for decades to come. The more diligent we are in these efforts, the more prodigious a harvest we will reap.”
The great thing about implementing this parenting skill of teaching biblical concepts to our kids when they are young is that it requires us to learn it first. As parents, we are the greatest models our kids will see day in and day out. We need to accept that we are the real teachers for our kids and prepare our personal lives as such. Parents that are living lives of integrity- or not- will be identified very quickly by an intuitive youngster or teenager. We must be living our lives according to the principles we are expecting and hoping our kids to apply to their lives. Don’t be discouraged if you’re just now learning what these biblical concepts are for your own life. Sadly, there isn’t a hormone that is released the moment you become a parent that changes all manners of living and creates perfect, God-honoring followers instantly. This takes time in our own lives, just as it will take time in our kids’ lives. But if your Jesus learning curve is huge right now because you’re a new believer, (or because you've entered a new stage of life and everything normal has just shifted and you've lost your brain and now you feel like YOU are the child because you keep getting things wrong…) it will also be the same for your child- no matter the age. Those with older kids will have to work harder to implement Jesus’ teachings into daily, family life. But, it can definitely be done!
What is God’s plan and purpose for us in terms of raising our kids? Proverbs tells us and gives us the tools to do it. Proverbs 1:4 says, “These proverbs will make the simple minded clever. They will give knowledge and purpose to the young people.”
Parenting with the final goal of releasing our kids into adulthood requires that we parent in a way that gives “knowledge and purpose” by applying divine wisdom and moral instruction to daily life. Divine wisdom could be defined as thoughts, ideas, ways, and knowledge found only through God. As instructed in Proverbs, this wisdom is intended for daily life. As parents, daily life sometimes consists of diaper changes, driving lessons, dating, and discipline issues. Other days, parenting includes long talks, family movie nights, shopping for school clothes and victories on the athletic field or in the classroom. The ideas taught in Proverbs are intended to apply to all of these areas of parenting and more. We need not limit the use of scripture to prayer over the golden turkey at the Thanksgiving or when our daughter goes out on her first date. Neither should God’s word be “dumbed down” to trite bedtime prayers for our preschoolers or used as mere terminology thrown around during moments of parental conflict. God purposed his word to be used daily (Proverbs 3:6) and in all situations (2 Timothy 3:6) because it is “full of living power.”
As the leaders of our homes, whether we feel ready for the job or not, our task is to bathe our children in the word of God and teach them how to apply it to our ever changing world around us. God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8) and his word will be applicable to the parenting puzzles of yesterday, today and tomorrow. We need not fear!
Whether our kids are in diapers or in the driver’s seat, we need to remember that God has given them to us to nurture for a season of both physical infancy and spiritual infancy. As Christian parents, I don’t think our parenting worries or weaknesses are only found in the growing and nurturing parts of parenting- but in the releasing and sending part.
So, if you're still with me, sometimes parenting makes me feel "simple minded" because I feel so inadequate. But, I can trust that I can find the strength and wisdom necessary for this parenting gig in scripture and wisdom from mentors. What part of your task-at-hand seems the most daunting at this point?
Barna, George. Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions. Regal Books. 2003. Page 42.