It feels like yesterday that I was running errands around town with three littles under foot, singing along to VeggieTales as we drove from place to place. On repeat we heard, “God made you special, and He loves you very much.” As a young mom, I hoped that phrase from those silly songs would imprint upon the hearts and minds of my littles as they began their faith journeys under our care.
Fast forward a few short years, and we now have a teenager, a tween, and the baby is in elementary school. Most evenings it feels like we are all over the place—practices, school and social commitments—with a rolling dinner time for the first time ever. In those early years, I hadn’t put much thought to this new, busy stage when one by one the kids would outgrow VeggieTales and Jesus Storybook Bible bedtime stories. While I hadn’t considered what our role in faith nurturing might look like in this season, I knew what was at stake. We, the parents, play the most crucial earthly role in cultivating the hearts of our kids as they grow.
So how do we continue to nurture and intentionally engage with our kids on their faith journey as they get older? We ask this question of other parents. We seek wise counsel from those who work with adolescents and young people every day. But most importantly, we look to Scripture to see if God has anything to say about it.
In Deuteronomy 11, Moses gives the Israelites invaluable parenting advice. He begins, “So love God, your God; guard well his rules and regulations; obey his commandments for the rest of time. … Place these words on your hearts. Get them deep inside you. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder. Teach them to your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning until you fall into bed at night.”
Similar to the flight attendant who tells us to put our oxygen masks on first before attempting to help our children with theirs, Scripture tells us that our own personal faith is the starting place for nurturing our growing children’s faith. And from there, we teach them and talk to them—morning to night.
Throughout chapter 11, Moses reminds the Israelites that their children were not present to witness God’s faithfulness and all he had done to bring them out of Egypt. And so it was their job to tell the story so the next generation could know God and his character. We have the same responsibility today. We may read Bible stories and sing of God’s love when our kids are tiny. But as they mature, our hope is that their understanding of God will grow and deepen. Scripture encourages us that our own life stories are a significant part in this process for our kids. Just like the Israelites, it’s important for me to tell my children what God has done in my life. My accounts of God’s character—his love and faithfulness—offer them a personal point of reference as they continue on their own journey with Him.
In the past few years, we have begun sharing our own stories with our kids. We may hear a message at church or camp about Jesus’ various encounters with people, which gives us perfect opportunity to talk over lunch about what our own encounters with him have looked like—even when we cannot see him. Or when we’ve gotten news of a painful situation a friend is walking through, we might talk at bedtime about God’s promises amidst our pain—ways we have witnessed his character to be true in our own past. Thankfully, it’s a process, and we continue to learn as we practice ways to teach our kids and “talk wherever [we] are, sitting at home or walking in the street; from the time [we] get up in the morning until [we] fall into bed at night.”
Our Heavenly Father,
As parents, may we remember that we are your children, deeply loved. We ask for the wisdom and resources to build upon our kids’ faith foundations from the years of “God made you special, and He loves you very much” to the years of sharing our own stories of you and beyond. May we fully reflect on Deuteronomy 11 and take to heart your call on us as parents. Amen.