Like a football coach speaking to his team, Steve Adams, pastor of Saddleback Church Children’s Ministries, lays down honest, straight-forward tips to raising spiritually healthy children.
First, he says many parents are intimidated by the fact that the Bible says parents are the primary people responsible for discipling their kids. “They think, ‘I’m not a pastor or I didn’t go to seminary school and I’m just a mom or dad.’ ”
But the fact is, “You Can Do It!” Here’s how:
Have An Agenda
“Here’s my big agenda...pray over your kids, a prayer of blessing. Remind them God loves them and that you love them,” said Steve who is raising two sons, Tyler-21 and Matthew-15, with his wife of 22 years, Stephanie. “There’s something special that happens when a mom, and dad, prays over their children. There’s a special connection that happens. It’s super simple and special.”
Bring God into the conversation more often, says Steve.
“Look for teachable moments, and ways to bring Christian values into their daily walk. They present themselves all the time, if you’re looking for them,” said Steve. He said one example is when watching television together. There might be a commercial for a new TV show that may have questionable moral material. Start a conversation about the topic and ask what your child thinks, and then decide if that’s the kind of show you should be watching to glorify God.
“Just having these kind of conversations, even if you don’t have the “right” answers, will help your kid’s spiritual development,” he said. “Be intentional about bringing God into the conversations. And if you’re asked a question that you don’t know the answer to, say something like, ‘hey let’s discover that together.’”
One simple way is for parents to go to www.Saddlebackkids.com and go to the “view, review and what to do” section. Here parents can review what was taught at church over the weekend, and offers questions to ask during the week.
“We don’t want to create a sense that we never made a mistake, or that we know it all,” Steve said. “Be honest about temptations or mistakes you’ve made and what you’ve learned from them.” The more open you are with them, the more open they will be with you.
Steve recommends coaching your kids with openness about “when” things come up, rather than “if” they come up.
“When I was a kid, I had to look for trouble, but in today’s internet, information age, trouble finds you!” So be proactive and open about what to do “when” trouble comes up, he says.
For example, Steve suggested asking, “When you’re on the internet, have you ever seen some inappropriate material? Ask what did you do? Then, you can coach them about what to do next time.”
“Spend time with your children, and do something that they want to do,” Steve said. “Talk about things that interest them, which will eventually give you an opportunity to talk about God. But “timing is everything. Parents often get caught forcing conversations, especially with teenagers. Be patient for the opportunity to ask questions like, ‘how’s your relationship with God going? Or what are your friendships like at school?”
Steve said he found a great time to talk and connect with his boys is Friday afternoon. “School is over with, they’re looking forward to the weekend and have little on their to-do list,” he said.
Find the Right Approach
We can’t use the same approach our parents us on us, Steve said. “I can’t even use the same approach with Matthew that I used with my older son Tyler, because it’s two different worlds they’re living in.”
He added that kids need boundaries. “They won’t say it, but they like it. They’re has to be house rules, and they may be different for each child.”
“Help your children know they are God’s masterpiece. My ministry verse is Ephesians 2:10 and I want every child to know they have a purpose, destiny and are special.”
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:10