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How to Help Your Child Grow Spiritually
“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6
Being a parent is a tough job. Anyone can become a parent, but to be successful as a parent, it takes a lot of hard work and sacrifice. As a follower of Christ and a parent, I have set goals for my kids as they grow older. I want them to develop a good work ethic, learn the value of money, learn to be generous, and to do well in school as examples. I have certain waypoints that I want to see them reach in each goal to make sure that they are moving along as they should. However, the most important goal that I have for them is to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and have a vibrant relationship with Him.
We Do Not Need Religion, We Need Jesus
Leading Your Child to Christ
“Jesus Said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’” Matthew 19:14
“Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Mark 10:15
My number one focus when it comes to parenting my kids is to lead them to Christ. My wife and I pray for their salvation on a daily basis. Nothing is more important to us than this. It is important to take your kid to church on a regular basis and get them in the habit of going to church and Sunday school. Also, take advantage of youth programs such as Awanas that teaches kids about Christ and also focuses them on memorizing God’s Word. Even more importantly, talk to your kids about Jesus and be an example of Him to them. Start when they are young. The vast majority of people that accept Christ do it by the age of 18. My friend, Dan, grew up going to church but did not have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Years later, as a result of his mom’s prayers and persistence, he finally came to Christ. Dan’s testimony is a great reminder to never give up on your kid coming to Christ.
How to Lead a kid to Christ
Why We Need to be Saved
Before a child can grow spiritually they must be born again or as many Christians call it “saved”. Saved from what you may ask? Saved from the wrath of a holy God. We are all guilty of breaking God’s law. Do not believe me? Then take this test:
- Have you ever told a lie? Even a so-called white lie?
- Have you ever stolen anything? Even a piece of candy?
- Have you ever lusted after anyone?
- Have you ever used God’s name as a swear word?
- Have you ever dishonored your parents?
If you are honest, you will admit that you have violated several if not all of these. This is called sin and it is with us from the time we are born. Think about it, do you have to teach a kid to lie? No, they learn to do it on their own.
“We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:6
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” Romans 3:11-12
The Bible goes on to tell us that the penalty for sin is an eternity in hell. God does not want anyone to go to hell, so He sent Jesus to die in our place and to pay the penalty for our sins. Only a perfect sacrifice is sufficient to pay the penalty of our sins.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16
To be “saved”, we need to repent of our sins and place our trust in Jesus Christ. If you do not know Christ and want to, pray a prayer like this:
Dear Jesus, please forgive me for all of my sins. I repent and turn from them. I accept your perfect sacrifice on my behalf. Please be my Lord and Savior. Thank you for saving me. Amen.
The words of the prayer do not matter; it is a matter of the heart. I urge you to make that decision today as life is short and we do not know when we will die. The Bible says that today is the day of salvation.
First and foremost, it is a parent’s responsibility to talk to their kids about Jesus. Local churches are there to help in the process, but parents have the ultimate responsibility before God. Let us look at some of the different ways that you can help your kids grow spiritually.
Final Scene from the movie "Courageous"
Be an Example to Your Kids
“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1
The most important thing that you can do to help your kids grow spiritually is to set an example for them to follow. Whether or not we as parents notice it, our kids are watching us and often mimic what they see us doing. I remember the powerful antidrug commercial in the 1980s that showed a father yelling at his teenage son for using drugs. The father asked him where he learned how to do it. The son responded with some of the most chilling words for a parent to hear, “I learned by watching you.” It is so important that our kids catch us reading the Bible, spending time in prayer, talking about Jesus, and living up to what we preach.
Clever Video to Help Kids Understand the Bible
Teach them to Read the Bible
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
A great way to help kids grow spiritually is to teach them to read the Bible on a regular basis. Bible reading is essential for spiritual growth. For younger kids, read them one of the many different Biblical stories each night before bed. Help them to understand how big and powerful their God is. As your kids get older, buy them an age appropriate Bible and encourage them to read it. Also, talk to them often about what the Bible has to say. Help them to apply it to their daily life. Another great resource that will help your kids grow in knowledge of the Bible is an Audio Bible that they can listen to in their IPod or similar device.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Teach them to Pray
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
Listening to a young child pray with childlike faith is something to behold. They talk to God as if He was sitting right there next to them in flesh. This type of prayer brings joy to the heart of God. We all can learn a lot from watching kids pray. As parents, we need to pray with them before bed and give them the opportunity to pray before meals. We also need to teach them that they should pray continually as Scripture commands. Remind them that God is with them no matter where they go.
Why Scripture Memory is Important
Teach Them to Memorize Scripture
“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11
Another great way to help your kids grow spiritually is to help them memorize scripture which allows them to internalize God’s Word and take it with them wherever they go. The verses that they memorize can help them overcome temptation as they grow up and as a source of comfort in times of trouble. Kids learn differently so be flexible in your approach. I suggest making a list of verses that you want them to know and memorize one verse at a time down the list. It is important that you review past verses periodically with them to help them retain the information. Do not be afraid to offer your kids incentives if they memorize a set number of verses. I offered my kids that they would get a special toy if they memorized five verses. Then I upped the prize if they did 10 and so on. It worked great. I remember memorizing verses in Sunday School when I was in first grade and we received colorful stars to stick in a book to show our progress. Here are several verses that I recommend that kids should memorize:
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father but by me.” John 14:6
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.” Romans 6:23
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
These verses lay a good foundation to build on because they teach the basic truths of Christianity.
Spend Time Together as a Family
I can remember when I was little; how I loved to hear my mom and dad talk about Biblical concepts as we drove in our car. They also head the radio on to the local Christian station, which exposed my brother and I to sound biblical teaching. That is probably why I love to listen to Christian podcasts even to this day. I also enjoyed going over to my grandma’s house and hearing about Jesus. Even if it appears that your kids are not listening you would be surprised at how much that they pick up. It is a great idea to have devotions as a family. It does not have to be long. Just read either a devotional book or a passage from scripture and discuss it. Spend time in prayer as a family. It is also a great idea to serve as a family helping people who are less fortunate.
What is Awana?
Involve Them in Church
It is also important to involve your kids in a good Bible believing church. Although, the main responsibility for your kid’s spiritual growth lies on us as parents, local churches can aid in that process. Get your kids in the habit of going to Sunday School on Sunday mornings and involve them in other groups such as Awana so that they can learn even more Biblical truths.
“But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15
All of us as parents make important decisions regarding our kids on a regular basis. I urge you to declare that you and your household will serve the Lord and follow that up with the appropriate actions. Parents, lead your kids to Christ. Start today. Even if they are fully-grown and out of the house, lead them to Christ. Teach them about Jesus and his love for them.