“A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children…” Proverbs 13:22 (NIV)
As parents, we leave a legacy. We either can intentionally leave a positive one that encourages and equips our children for adulthood or we can unintentionally leave a negative one, especially if we fail to teach necessary skills or values.
There are lots of skills we intentionally teach our children: Physical safety, personal grooming, household chores, and financial wisdom. Then there are the values we want our children to learn: Kindness, generosity, courage, responsibility and patience to name but a few.
However, as much as the above is a full-time job itself, have we as parents given much thought to instilling spiritual values in our children so when they are adults living on their own, eventually possibly having kids of their own, they are equipped to continue to grow in their faith and teach the next generation? What about subjects like faith, fasting, tithe, communion? What about regular personal quiet time, the values of a small group or accountability partner, mission trips, or serving at church and in their community? The best way to teach these values is to first understand them yourself and second to have your children witness your participation in them.
Don’t worry if you are still growing in some of these areas. That creates a great opportunity because if you engage your child in the process with you, age appropriately, they can learn the value of digging deeper in their faith as well.
Quite a few of the above principles my husband and I practice regularly. However, I realized recently as our children get older, I need to actively engage them as well. It’s important they learn the reasons behind tithing, fasting, regular quiet time, prayer, and communion. It’s necessary to teach them what Jesus says about prayer, faith, and the topics of healing, self control, wealth, purity, and outreach to others.
It’s important for our kids to observe us participating regularly. However, our children need opportunities to experience these activities in order to really grasp the “why” behind the spiritual truths. A child can begin the act of tithing by giving 10% of his allowance to God. Fasting can begin to be observed from kids of all ages giving up dessert or “snacks” for the day and eating only healthy food. When started at an early age, we are giving our children an advantage in their spiritual walk. We are helping them learn how to hear God’s voice for their lives and for their own concerns.
Just as we all want our children to have a solid foundation in the areas of a good job, a nice house, and someone to love, how much more do we want our children to take a solid spiritual foundation with them when they begin their adult journey out of our house? Ultimately, it’s our child’s choice whether or not they embrace God, but it’s our job to offer them many opportunities to grow in their spiritual journey ahead of time.
Copyright 2013: Cheri Swalwell