As the new year approaches, we are sure to see many social media posts regarding New Year’s resolutions. Many resolutions tend to be health-related such as dieting, exercising, losing weight or stopping the use of tobacco products. Some resolutions are career-focused, such as working towards a promotion, finishing a degree or getting a new job. Others are financial-related such as putting more money into a retirement account or saving money for a big vacation. How often are resolutions related to how we will be spending eternity? Moreover, how often are resolutions related to how our children will spend eternity?
Today, probably more than ever, parents and children are busy. Football, ballet, basketball, band, baseball, dance, soccer, piano … the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, busy lives are becoming excuses for missing church and excuses for less meals shared around the kitchen table. We are allowing the crazy schedules to run our lives and we are leaving little if no time for Him.
This makes me think of Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
How are we training our children today? Are we training them to focus on God or are we training them to focus on earthly things? Are we training them to schedule everything else in their life but just fit God in where there’s free space? Or are we training them to put God first?
As parents, how often do we talk about God with our kids? Once a day? Twice a day? More? Less?
“And these words I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the walk, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 6:6:7
Here Moses tells us as parents to talk about the Word not just in the morning or at bedtime, but throughout the day. We should intentionally speak God’s Word to our children daily. The more we talk about it, the more comfortable we as parents will become; and eventually the kids will become more comfortable with it and will join in, adding the Word to their daily lives.
Small changes in our daily lives can make a huge impact on the lives of our children – and their eternity.
- Start your mornings off right with family prayer time. This doesn’t have to be long, just give everyone a chance to talk with God about whatever is on their heart that day. With four kids, my house is crazy in the mornings, so we say our prayers in the van on the way to school. I choose who starts and that person picks who goes next and so on. When we started doing this, the person picked last would often be sad, so we make it fun and say they are the ‘best for last’ and the problem was solved.
- If you have older kids, share prayer requests with them. I’ve found this makes my older kids, ages 11 and 13, feel pretty special. When a friend asks me to pray for them or if I know of a special need, I’ll often ask them to simply pray as well. They have a moment of silence at their school and use that time for special requests like this.
- * Enjoy as many meals around the kitchen table as possible. There is something special about joining hands each evening as a family and giving praise, honor and glory to God for all He has done. It’s also a great time to talk with the kids about their day. Keeping the communication lines open, especially as children get older, is very important.
- Select a devotional that’s fitting for your kids and set time aside to study it each night. If your children are spaced apart in ages, you’ll probably need more than one to ensure it’s age appropriate for everyone. This allows the kids to dig into God’s Word.
- Establish a bedtime prayer routine for your family. Whether it is in the family room or a bedroom, establish a routine. This will become something younger kids look forward to and get excited about. What’s better than seeing our children excited about talking to the Lord?
- Create a thankful jar. Use any jar you have around the house and allow the kids to decorate it however they like. Use slips of paper to write what you’re thankful for every day or to recognize how you’ve seen God’s hands at work in your daily lives. Read these as a family at the end of each month and start each month with an empty jar.
- Find a church that fits your family and get involved.
- Stop making excuses as to why you can’t make it to church. It should be a priority for you and your children. Do whatever you have to do to make it happen.
- As a parent, spend more time in the Word. Try giving up just 15 minutes a day of social media time or evening TV time. It’ll be well worth it.
- Never stop encouraging your children in their walk with the Lord.
Let’s make 2016 the year we focus on eternity, because after all, as parents, what greater joy is there than to watch our children build a relationship with the Lord?