I was interrupted by the mall security guard tapping me on the shoulder. “Excuse me, Ma’am. You’re going to have to lower your voice. People at the other end of the mall reported hearing you screaming.” I stared at him in wide-eyed amazement as my teenage children cracked up laughing at the situation. We were in the mall arcade playing a “car racing” video game. While driving at high speeds (with numerous crashes) I became so engrossed that I was unaware of laughing, squealing, and screaming at the top of my lungs throughout each race!
What does this have to do with training the next generation? Read to the end to find out! Training our children to love God must be incorporated into the everyday fabric of life. Here are five suggestions for applying Deuteronomy 6:5-8:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words . . . shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.
When your children grow up, do you want them to have the same level of commitment to the Word and prayer that you have? Are you allowing them to see the value of sacred things? Do they know God is your first love and priority?
I told my children: “You don’t want to talk to Mommy before Jesus does, because He needs to straighten out my attitude every morning before I start my day.”
One morning a friend phoned and asked to speak with me. My young son replied, “Oh, I’m sorry she can’t talk to you right now. God’s still meeting with Mommy.” When she told me about this later, I was amused but also grateful he’d noticed it was important for God to “meet with Mommy.”
2. Grabbing Teachable Moments
Watch for every opportunity to insert little bits of truth about God. Point out to your children His work in your life and in the world around them. Train them with expressions of gratitude to Him throughout the day: being thankful for the sunshine, for running water, puppy dogs, good friends, and hot chocolate! Take every opportunity to encourage your children to view God as good and the provider of all good things.
3. Intentional Teaching
I encourage mothers to have regular times of instruction with a child’s devotional or Bible story book. As they get older, there are several great resources and Bible studies–as well as opportunities to serve in ministry activities together.
4. Interceding in Prayer
Prayer is the greatest parenting help available. Rather than focusing on “changing your child,” go to God with your concerns, with needed attitude adjustments, and with sinful habits. Ask Him to change your child’s heart, because He is the only One who can accomplish real change.
5. Laughter and Joy
Now–the point of my opening illustration: Have fun with your kids!
If you convey to them the great truths of Scripture, drill the necessary do’s and don’ts of godly behavior, if you’re meeting with God in prayer daily–but you never laugh together and your life is joyless–what have you communicated? You’ve trained your children to believe there is no joy in righteousness. And that simply isn’t true. In the presence of Christ is fullness of joy–and they need to experience that truth with you daily.
There is much more to say on this topic, but I want to hear from you. What are some ways you incorporate the principle of Deuteronomy 6 into your daily life? How are you training the next generation?