Teachable Moments

Raising School Age Kids Who Thirst After Jesus

I wrote a book and I thought I’d give you a “foretaste” of what is in it.  It’s called, God Never Changes, But My Family Always Does, and you can buy it on Amazon. I hope you enjoy reading it if you do.  I love how I got the privilege of really thinking through what it means to disciple our kids to become God-worshippers throughout their childhood and adolescence.

Each life stage of a child is examined through a theological lens and then, practically worked out in everyday moments of family life.  Today, I’d like to look at our Elementary Age Kids – also known as the School Age or Middle Childhood years. These children are ages 6 – 10 years old.

I suggest we consider this:

“God is present with us, engaging with us on an intimate, emotional level.  God is also truthful…He never lies. This understanding of God along with a strong theology of work, offers a firm foundation for parents who are navigating the school age years (ages 6-10) in which children derive their future identity, purpose and faith.” (Smith, CH 4)

What theology is most pertinent to this life stage?

  • Work – God gives work to us as a divine responsibility and can show our faith in Him through our attitudes, behavior and work relationships.  The amount of work kids do at this life stage increases rapidly and exponentially.
  • Truth – God is the author of all that is true.  Children are learning more and more and as they think critically, have to decide what is true and what is false at this stage.
  • Emotions – God is an emotional God and we learn about our emotions and how to handle them as we study His Word.  Children’s emotions become increasingly more complex in this life stage.

What key things should we know about School Age Kids (6-10 year olds)?

  • BODY – these children form habits physically that they will carry with them for years to come
  • MIND – learning to read, developing critical thinking skills, and showing a preference for a particular learning style emerge
  • HEART – taking on more personal responsibility, growing in their self-efficacy, and developing their self-concept and self-esteem all influence their family relationships and friends
  • SOUL – discovering Bible facts, asking lots of questions about God and doctrine, and discerning where they stand in their relationship with Jesus are key faith formation issues

How does our theology direct how we interact with our kids on a day-to-day basis?

  • WORK:  School for children is the work of middle childhood.  Learning to read is one of their biggest tasks and making the most of their literacy skills helps ground them in God’s Word.  How can we help develop a biblical worldview of work for our child as they learn to read and get their homework done?
    • Monitor your attitude toward your own job.  If you complain about work, you might expect them to complain about school.
    • Develop conscientious work habits; we are to do everything we do with excellence (Colossians 3:23) as we work for the Lord.  Everything we do should glorify God – our attitudes and our actions in work (1 Cor. 10:31). Do children see that working hard at their schoolwork is a way they can glorify God.
    • Remember:  work isn’t just getting something done.  It is the divine venue God gives us to be a model for the world of what it looks like to serve and love God faithfully.  Discuss this with your child and model it with your life.
  • TRUTH:  As children develop their critical thinking skills, they will be trying to decide what truth is and where they find it.  How can we help children know what is true and where to find truth?
    • “God can never lie and therefore, we can trust God Himself and His word.  We can trust God’s will, promises and law. All that God reveals is true.” (Smith, CH 4)  Discuss what truth is and where it comes from so children know that God is the one they should turn to in order to understand their world and how to live within it.
    • “We do not set ourselves apart from the world because we are in fear of it, but rather we set ourselves apart in how we understand our world because of what we know about God.”  How does using scripture as a lens change how you see your everyday life and global events?  Discuss this with your child.
  • EMOTIONS:  Children learn to identify more complex emotions and feel more deeply as they grow older.  How can we help develop our child’s self-awareness about what they feel and how to manage their emotions wisely?
    • “God isn’t shy about expressing how He feels toward His creation.  God is always completely involved and is transparent with His feelings, expressing them appropriately and effectively.  God is many things, but He is never indifferent.” How does knowing that – we have emotions because we are made after the likeness of God and He has emotions – influence how we look at our emotions and how we handle them?
    • “God will never sin (impeccability) due to His emotions and is not tempted to be anyone other than who He is.”  Consider how your emotions tempt you away from being faithful in living a God-worshipping life and turn to God in prayer, asking Him for His Spirit-given self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).  Show your child we run to God with all that we are feeling.

Dear reader, let’s keep an eternal perspective while interacting with our children.  Realize that the ultimate goal is for our children to know and love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength; don’t get too caught up in the hustle and bustle of raising school age kids that you miss the everyday Teachable Moments.  

May each of us be constantly redirecting our focus toward God and living a life that demonstrates what it means to worship Him moment by moment.  May our children notice and come to love Him too.

Blessings to each of you dear friends – thanks for reading!  Elizabeth

PS – This blog post is in honor of my dear friend, Dr. Mary Martin, who is following the call of God in her life by taking a new job.  While we may not be on the same faculty anymore, I have been blessed to work with you in the Elementary Education Major at Moody Bible Institute.  May God bless the work of your hands as you spread His truth by helping teachers and children love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength.  I miss you already, Mary. Love Always!

Teachable Moments

What To Do When Waiting On God

I love Winnie the Pooh.  I loved him so much that I painted my children’s childhood rooms with characters from the Hundred Acre Wood: Tigger, Rabbit, Kanga and Roo, and, of course, Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin.  We owned cartoon videos and watched them over and over again as children are apt to want to do (and I was delighted to accommodate them). The challenges in each episode were undefined and slightly confusing and you could see Winnie tapping his forehead repeating, “Think, think, think!”  It wasn’t uncommon for Piglet to worry out loud saying,”OOOoooohhhhh! What to do! What to do!” As they tried to figure out the way out of their dilemma, they more often than not were waiting for the arrival of a wiser and more competent influence, Christopher Robin. Their problem wasn’t just the situation, but what to do while they were waiting.

Waiting is the time often between the beginning and the end of the story and, contrary to perhaps a common thread of thought, it is not a time to do nothing.  Waiting is always filled with something.

Waiting is a common experience for all of us and, besides not really enjoying the whole experience of waiting, most of us don’t know what to do with it.  Scripture goes the extra mile to command us to “wait on the Lord” (Psalm 27:14, Psalm 37:34) and extols the benefits of waiting on the Lord (Isaiah 40:31).  But what do we do – actually do – while we wait? Perhaps we can look at the most famous “waiting” there ever was – the waiting for Jesus to rise from the dead and to appear as the resurrected Messiah.

There are many sites you can look to which will give you a sequence of when, where, and to whom Jesus appeared after His resurrection.  But take out the details, and we see some common themes.

  1. Work – As they waited and wondered what would happen now that Jesus had been murdered, people went about their everyday lives.  We see them walking on the road, talking with one another, and fishing. Just like then, life goes on now even as we Christ-followers wait for Jesus’ second coming and, while it doesn’t make waiting easier, necessarily, living normative lives with what is currently right in front of us is worthy of our waiting.  Work while you wait. God has given you something to do so do it – and do it well as you would serving the Lord Himself (Colossians 3:23-24).
  2. Worry – As they waited, doubt crept into the minds and hearts of Jesus’ disciples.  We see that when Jesus appeared, some didn’t recognize Him and some doubted who He was.  We can learn from these precious believers for we are so like them. While we wait to see what God will do and wait until He does it, we need to fight our doubt and worry and instead, wait with an expectancy that comes from our faith. God has promised us as post-resurrected followers to never leave us and, as a faithful God, we know He is at work for He has promised to finish the good work He has begun in each of us (Ephesians 2:10).  
  3. Worship – As we go about our work, if we aren’t going to worry while we work, what will we do?  This is where we can respond to our situation based upon what we know from the resurrection.  Jesus defeated death, has fully redeemed us by His resurrection, and has promised that He will one day return to bring the Kingdom into full glory.  We have an assurance that surely leads us to worship the God who is able to do so much. And our worship exists not only in the community of faith in which we gather to study, serve, and sing, but in all of the other moments of our lives.  Our obedience is our sacrifice of praise as we extol to all who can hear the majesty of our great God (Hebrews 13:15).

We are waiting for our Jesus to come again. Dear Reader, what shall we do as we wait just as the first disciples waited at the beginning of the post-resurrection era?  Let us work with excellence in the lives He has given to us, let us fight against worry that tries to steal our attention and joy, and let us worship with all our hearts as we look forward to the return once again of our Lord!

Blessings, dear friends, as we wait for the second coming of Christ!  May we work, not worry, and definitely worship as we wait together as His disciples.  
Fondly yours, Elizabeth