When James and I were the young parents of one precious toddler, we were pleased as punch to share every milestone with others, especially the eager-to-hear senior adults at our church. So one day as we enjoyed a Southern cooked lunch with the senior adult group at Bowdon Baptist Church in Georgia, we took the opportunity to share Daniel’s latest success with the sweet group of people sharing our table.
Daniel sat in a high chair at the end of the table, plopping tiny, soft vegetables into his mouth one at a time. I sat to his left, moving said vegetables from my plate to his, one at a time. But not only had Daniel learned to feed himself table food; he had also learned about the Bible. James and I had taught him that “the Bible says Jesus loves me.” In fact, we could ask Daniel any time of the day or night, “What does the Bible say?” and he would always, without fail answer back a quick and enthusiastic, “Jesus loves me!”
So I got everyone’s attention: Ya’ll listen to this. Listen to what Daniel has learned! Daniel, what does the Bible say?
Daniel looked around at the attentive, smiling faces and sheepishly grinned. Then he proudly exclaimed, “Moo!”
So much for our splendid Bible lessons! How embarrassing!
But darling, all the same!
Recently a mom of young children asked me for tips on how to talk with her children about God. I had to stop and think wayyy back, but I came up with a few lessons I learned in this area…some from successes, some from failures and missed opportunities. I thought I’d share those with you today. Because obviously I know what I’m talking about. Moo, indeed!
- Nature provides ample opportunity to talk with our children about God–not only about how He created each thing special and unique and beautiful, but also about how God’s character is displayed in our world. He is strong and dependable like the mountains. His mercy flows like an open river. His love is bigger than the heavens. Just like the wind, we can’t see Him, but we can see the results of His presence. And so on.
- Talk with your child about your relationship with Jesus. Tell them how He helped you do something difficult, how He convicted you about something you did wrong, how He forgave you, what He taught you, how He comforted you when you were sad, etc. Tell your children how you feel about God. Whet their appetite for the Living Bread and make them thirsty for the living water!!
- Pray with your child. Sure, you want to teach your child to pray. But make sure she hears you pray as well. Pray about more than the food and the pretty day and your safety. Make sure your child hears you to talk to Jesus like a dear friend.
- Tell your child what the Bible says. I know; it sounds like I flopped in this principle. But not really. It’s important for you to link as many truths as possible about God to the Bible. For instance, instead of saying, “Don’t hit! Be kind,” try saying, “The Bible tells us God wants us to be kind to one another. It makes Him happy when we treat each other nicely and respectfully.” You can also say things like, “The Bible says God has a special plan for your life,” or “The Bible teaches us to forgive each other.” This helps your child learn that the Bible is his moral compass for life and has the answers to life’s questions.
- Don’t use God’s names in vain. This should go without saying, but, hey, we can all get in some bad habits. Be careful to only use the names Jesus, God, Christ or Lord with reverence, respect and hope. Protect your children from hearing these names used in frustration, anger, disrespect, despair, or vulgarity.
- Ask your child questions about God, Jesus, the Bible, and church. Give him opportunity to verbalize what he is learning about these things in a safe and non-judgmental environment. Don’t laugh, mock or criticize what he says in response. But take note about those things you may need to follow up on in the future.
- Talk about Jesus all day, throughout your day. The Bible tells us (see how I fit that in!) to talk to our children about God, His ways and His character in our going and coming, our sitting down and rising up. I always found times in the car to be some of the best opportunities for talking with my children about spiritual things.
- Don’t fear! Don’t be afraid of the tough questions your children will inevitably ask about God and spiritual matters. Remember, Jesus said we all need to come to Him with a childlike faith, an innocence and dependence and wonder. If you don’t know the answer to a question, tell your child you will need to pray about that and look in the Bible for the answer. Then, do just that. Of course, you can always seek out wise counsel from a mentor or your pastor as well.
- Start when they’re young and don’t stop! It’s never too early to talk to your child about God, even before he or she is born. And don’t ever, ever, ever stop talking to your child about the Lord. If you wake up one morning and realize, “Hey! Me and the kids never talk about Jesus anymore,” then start back to it that day!