In September, my wife Emily and I will welcome our third child into the world. Third. As in three human beings for whom we are responsible. Sometimes I feel inadequate to guide these three little blessings throughout their life. When I really stop to think about it, it’s easy for me to feel overwhelmed by everything I want them to become. I want them to love others, pursue their passions and gifting, and stay far away from the Green Bay Packers. Mostly, I hope Emily and I can disciple them and model Christ for them in a way that helps them find an authentic love for and faith in Jesus.
“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.” - Deuteronomy 6:4-7
These verses give us a template for how to disciple our kids. God uses His Word to help us understand His nature— who He is and how we can have a relationship with Him. Spending time in the Bible is crucial in order to know God. We as parents must love the Lord our God wholeheartedly and seek to know Him better through studying and applying the Bible on a daily basis. If we want our kids to find a heart for God’s Word, we must model that in our own lives.
This can be difficult depending on how old our kids are and what stage of life we’re in, but even allowing our children to watch us spend time in the Word helps them see the value and importance of it in our lives. Parents are the primary model of God’s Word to our kids. Although God has given parents many resources and relationships to help disciple our kids, this is not a responsibility we can shift to youth leaders, pastors, or other family members.
Help Develop the Habit
Discipleship at home starts with our own relationship with Jesus, but the next aspect is just as crucial. If we want to foster a heart for God and His Word, we have to encourage our kids to read the Bible and interact with it regularly. Moses says to repeat God’s commands to your children and talk about them at home, on the road, when you go to bed, and when you rise. He uses these words to suggest that we should be discussing God’s commands with our kids constantly and consistently, no matter where we are. Here are some suggestions for helping your kids interact with God’s Word:
- Find an age-appropriate Bible for your kids like The Jesus Storybook Bible for younger kids or The Kids Slimline NLT Bible for elementary-age children. We use the Jesus Storybook Bible with my kids. They love to look at the pictures while we read to them, and they are learning that every story points to Jesus.
- Find a Routine. Consistency is crucial in order to form a habit. Find a time that works for your family and commit to it. We read in the Bible every night before bed and every morning during breakfast. Although my kids are only 1 and 3, they both value these times, frequently reminding me when it’s time to read. Remember that it is just as important for you as a parent to form your own personal Bible reading habits as well.
- Apply what you’ve studied. At Camp we like to ask these questions in order to put our Bible study into action:
- What does this teach us about God?
- What does this teach us about people?
- What lessons can we learn and apply today?
- Who will you share this with? When?
This might look different for your family depending on how old your kids are, but we need to take the time to discuss what we are learning and how we are applying it in order to grow. Ask these questions around the dinner table and be sure to follow up with what your kids share throughout the week. Be ready to share your own answers with your kids!
Don’t Be Discouraged
If you’re like me, this responsibility can feel like such a blessing and a bit of a burden at the same time. Remember, spending time studying and applying the Bible is an issue of the heart, not an obligation. As our hearts grow closer to Jesus, we are able to model our faith for our kids.
How have you helped your kids study the Bible? What challenges have you faced? What tips or resources do you have to share?