By Sarah Benton
We, as parents, make poor saviors. We absolutely cannot ensure our children will trust in Jesus and be headed for eternity with Him. However, God has entrusted us with the work of putting kindling around their hearts and asking Him to bless it and consume their hearts with His holy fire.
I wanted to encourage you other mommas, especially with young children, in a few practical things the Lord has shown me recently on how to begin establishing some of these rhythms in our parenting. I am in no way a parenting expert and this is in no way a “have-to” or comprehensive list. Please seek wisdom from the Lord, but here are a few things to consider as you seek to point your children to the Lord.
Pray with your children.
Prayer is powerful, amen? Let your kids see and hear what it looks like to go to the Father with everything. Prayer is praising God and thanking God, asking God to work in our lives, in the lives of others, and confessing and repenting of our sin. Our children need to be exposed to that! Be bold in your prayers, asking God to do big things, and demonstrating the expectant hope that we have in Him.
We started praying before bedtime with our daughter fairly early on and it’s been neat to see how God has used that to encourage our family. Our biggest prayer for both of our children is that the Lord would save them early on in life, that they would be passionate proclaimers of the Gospel, living to bring glory to God, and we pray this over them out loud every night. It’s a sweet time to remember God’s faithfulness and re-trust Him again and again with these precious little people.
Get creative in sharing God’s Word
We have been commanded by the Lord to saturate our lives and our homes in the Word of God.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that 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 way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9
Teaching our children in the scripture can take on many different forms, which is appropriate depending on where our children are developmentally. Meet them where they are—that’s a picture of how our heavenly Father teaches us. My children love looking at The Jesus Story Book Bible, which keeps the Gospel message central in all of the Bible-story renderings. Listen to Bible verses set to music for children. Let your kids paint scriptures on canvases they can hang in their rooms or color in a Bible verse coloring book. Get them around other adults who honor the Word of God. I have chalk boards in our kitchen and bathroom that constantly have different scripture passages chalked on them. You could put the alphabet letters in simple verses on the fridge and have your kids help. Get creative and ask the Lord for ideas at each stage.
Let them get to see you sharing and demonstrating the Gospel
This is a biggy, because without this, the others won’t have as much of an impact. So much of parenting is about modeling, not simply indoctrinating. We are discipling our children in something at all times: how to eat, how to sleep, how to clean the house, how to earn a living, how to treat people, etc. We must intentionally disciple our children in what it means to live on mission as a follower of Christ. This means doing the hard work of setting aside our comfort and convenience to truly proclaim the good news of the Gospel, invest in the Kingdom and make disciples. Our children need to see and be a part of caring for the least of these, the orphans, the widows, the poor and needy, the lost, the broken. They need to see that the Gospel actually, practically matters to us—that it shapes everything. This could be made manifest in something as seemingly insignificant as smiling at someone, or more involved as paying for someone’s groceries once or for a month or for a year, or even as life-altering as giving time to sharing the Gospel with a different people group, here or abroad. Modeling to your children that you completely trust God with every single detail of your life and that you care more about pleasing the Lord and sharing the Gospel than your own comfort, convenience, or glory will touch the heart of your child somewhere along the way.
Press on, dear mom-sister-in-Christ. Your faithful efforts to love and shepherd your children well are beautiful to the Lord because of Jesus’ work in you and will yield a harvest in due season if you do not lose heart.
Sarah Benton currently lives in East Texas with her husband, Brandon, and stays at home with her two children, Hadleigh and Major. Sarah has her bachelor’s degree in English, but has returned to school to pursue a degree in Nursing. She is passionate about ministering to women by sharing the Gospel through health and wellness education, particularly pregnancy and childbirth. She writes at thebentonadventure.wordpress.com.