The ladies in the church nursery were very impressed. Katelyn was the most polite child they had ever seen. Only 13 months old, and yet she said “please” every time she wanted something. When she wanted to be picked up, she would walk up to an adult, raise her arms above her head and say, “up, please.” When she wanted back down, she would politely say, “down, please.” The ladies wondered how this child had been taught so well, so young.
“It was easy,” her parents explained when asked. “We just taught her that the word for ‘up’ is ‘up, please’ and the word for ‘down’ is ‘down, please’. And when we give her something, she’s not allowed to take it until she says ‘thank you.’ It wasn’t long before Katelyn figured out what words were what. But although many years have gone by, she still finds it very easy to say “please” and “thank you.” She wasn’t taught to watch for occasions to be polite. Instead, she was raised with politeness as part of her world.
It works with teaching politeness, and it works with teaching about the Lord. In Deuteronomy 11:18-20, Moses instructs the Israelites about the charges, statutes, judgments and commandments of God. Fix these words of Mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
In other words, the Jews were supposed to raise their children with God’s instructions as part of their world.
If you make pancakes, eggs and orange juice part of a child’s breakfast every day, that child will grow up believing everyone has pancakes, eggs and orange juice for breakfast every day. Any time she eats a breakfast without pancakes, eggs and orange juice, she’s going to notice something is missing.
If you make the Bible and conversations about the Lord part of every day, your children and grandchildren will grow up believing the Bible and conversations about the Lord are important every day. Any time they experience a day without the Bible and conversations about the Lord, they’re going to notice something is missing.
When your kids and grandkids talk with you about their day — about troubles they have with friends or bullies, about struggles with homework, about decisions they need to make — first you need to LISTEN, then respond with Scripture. Don’t preach a sermon. Just make God’s Word such a regular part of your life that it becomes a natural part of your vocabulary.
- Don’t just point out a pretty sunset; point out the pretty sunset God created.
- Don’t just warn them to avoid sinful behavior; encourage them to glorify God with their actions.
- Make the Lord part of your conversation with your spouse and other adults. Kids watch and learn even when you’re not talking directly to them.
- When you mess up and scream at another driver when you’ve got kids or grandkids in the car, follow it up with an apology and explain how you, and they, all have old natures.
Kids can learn bad behaviors if you model bad behaviors. If you often yell at other drivers in front of your kids or grandkids, just wait until you ride in a car they’re driving someday. But they will also model good behaviors they see in you. If you simply shrug when you get cut off in traffic and say, “I won’t let that driver spoil MY day,” it’s a lot more likely they will not grow up to be aggressive drivers.
Think of the children in your life (your own children, grandchildren or other family members). What important spiritual lesson can you teach by making God’s Word part of your natural conversation with that child.
We will not hide them [God’s words] from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord. His power, and the wonders He has done (Psalm 78:4.
One generation will commend Your works to another; they will tell of Your might acts (Psalm 145:4).