When I speak at a parent’s conference, I am often asked the question, “How can I get my kids reading the Word of God?” I think some may be interested in a reading plan, similar to what you might find in the back of your Bibles, or what curriculum I might suggest to use for family devotions. While neither are poor resources for the spiritual formation of children, getting our kids interested in what God has to say is more complicated than that and also, much simpler.
The first thing I consider is what question is really being asked. If it is a “what” question (what should I do?), then I suggest assigning some specific Bible reading or reading the Bible with them; if the children are pre-readers, then reading it to them is a great daily habit to get into.
Outside of these practical tips, I find most parents are not asking a “what” question but a “how” question; “how can I get my children interested in the Bible?” Parents are interested in the child’s heart. Parents want their children to want to know what God has to say. They want motivated children, desiring to know God’s word. This would implicitly seem more complicated than a check list. But…it’s not.
Simply, for a child to be interested in the Word of God, we need to be interested. The parent has to be curious, questioning, learning and fascinated with God’s Word or they don’t have a hope getting their kids interested. When our children see our love for God’s Word, they will be interested in discovering what the source of our satisfaction is by investigating the Bible for themselves.
After our children’s interest has been captured, we then want to consider what place it will have in their lives. Parents are not only asking how to get their kids interested, but also, “How can we have our children look at the word of God as the authoritative source of truth for their lives?” Inherently, we know that telling our children they must see God’s word as their source of truth isn’t enough. What will make an impact in having our children see God’s word as their authority for truth? When parents live Scripture as their authority, children will begin to consider the Bible as authoritative also.
What specifically does “living scripture as my authority” mean? Reworded, it means, Do I sit in judgement of Scripture, or does Scripture sit in judgement of me? If I find myself picking out verses to support my point of view and ignoring other verses that get in the way of my opinion, I am manipulating scripture; I am judging it and deciding what passes and what doesn’t pass as true and valuable. But, if Scripture is the authority, then I respond in obedience to it; I know scripture is my judge when my everyday life is guided by its truths.
Practically, consider this. Our town had a recent election; yours might have also. Did the party you wanted to win, win? Whether it did or didn’t, how will your children hear you speaking about these newly elected officials? Will they hear you using Scripture to negatively insult or condemn one of these public servants? Or, will they hear you asking God to continually grant your elected officials wisdom to lead? Scripture is clear we are to speak about our elected officials and treat our government leaders with respect and honor (Romans 13:1-7), even if we disagree with them. We can both tell and show our children (or grandchildren) that Scripture is the authority in every aspect of our lives when we react appropriately and check our behavior against Scripture, especially in times of frustration and disappointment.
Dear Reader, let’s remember the best way to engage our children with God’s word isn’t a program, but a life which displays a genuine affection and obedience to God’s word. Your kids will value what you value and love what you love. So, let’s do some evaluation and ask ourselves: do I hold God’s word in warm affection and do I intentionally seek to live by God’s Word because it is my authority in all things? I hope your answer is yes!
Until next time, may your love for God’s word grow deeply down into your soul and then infuse all your teachable moments. Blessings Abundant – Elizabeth