Introducing Your Child to God

Focus on the Family
By Larry Fowler

No maps. No GPS. Few street signs. Those are three important reasons why I don’t drive in developing countries. I’d get lost. Raising our kids to follow Christ is a lot like trying to navigate in an under-developed country — there is no parenting map, no spiritual GPS. We head in the direction that seems best, trying to find our way by trial and error.

But we don’t need to feel lost. As we journey through each stage of our children’s development, we can point them toward spiritual markers that will help them find true faith — becoming vibrant followers of Christ.

Spiritual marker for early childhood: respect
For parents of young children, the journey of raising Christ followers starts with the task of instilling respect for God and His authority. The psalmist tells us, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10).

While most of us enjoy teaching toddlers fun Bible stories, we can’t stop there. Early childhood materials may solely emphasize how “Jesus is your friend.” Warm fuzzy feelings build affection for Jesus, but they don’t build the foundation for spiritual wisdom. Awe, wonder and respectful fear of God lay that groundwork.

So how do you instill this respect? Teach your young children these truths:

  • God is strong. He can do anything.
  • God always keeps His promises.
  • God gives us rules that we must obey.
  • Even if Mommy or Daddy can’t see what you are doing, God sees it.
  • God disciplines us because He loves us.

Spiritual marker for early elementary years: wisdom

Wisdom is the ability to apply God’s Word to life situations. So to grow in wisdom, your children must first learn God’s Word. From ages 5 to 8, add biblical teaching to your daily routine. At this age, your children probably love to learn. Make sure you emphasize the following four areas:

Who is God? Is He an angry ogre ready to club you when you disobey? Is He a passive observer who is tolerant of everything? Is God what you make Him to be? Or is He the righteous, powerful and loving Creator found in the Bible?

Use Bible stories to teach about God. Take the story of David and Goliath for example. What can we learn about God from it? Many children’s materials conclude, “You can do anything if God is on your side.” But that is backward. The story’s application ought to be, “Make sure you are on God’s side.”

What is truth? Your kids will be bombarded throughout life by truth claims from the media, teachers and friends. If you are not successful in teaching them that truth and wisdom come from the Bible, they will struggle greatly with faith challenges later.

This means you must regularly include statements like the following in your conversation: “We can always trust what God says”; “God’s Word is always right”; “Obey the Bible, and you’ll never be sorry.”

Who is man? Our humanistic culture treats man as basically good. That’s why children often struggle with accepting the Bible’s claim that man is sinful. If they’ve not experienced abuse, abandonment, addictions or other deep hurts (as I hope they haven’t), they probably see the people around them as good. Your children will not appreciate the need for a savior until they see themselves and others as sinners.

Who is Jesus? Growing up in a society that professes to value tolerance will challenge your children’s faith. They may be called “intolerant” and “hateful” for claiming that Jesus is the only way to God. When your children sit in a classroom of Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and atheists, will their faith in Jesus stick? To withstand this pressure, your children need a secure knowledge of who Jesus is and why He is the only Way.

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