We're only two weeks into our summer vacation, and I'll admit there have been a few times in those two weeks when I've caught myself wondering how much longer it is until school starts. We were on vacation last week, and this week my girls and I have struggled to settle into a comfortable routine.
I look at the calendar for June and see Vacation Bible School, another short trip and a week of camps. I know it will be the beginning of July before we see anything that remotely resembles a settled schedule. I know my daughters yearn for a routine as well because yesterday I found them both with a piece of paper trying to create their own schedule for the day.
For whatever reason, many of us are wired so that we need a routine. I'm not a Type A, schedule things down to the minute personality, but I do like to have a general outline of what I need to accomplish during the day. I'm usually willing to throw out the plan at a moment's notice if something better comes along, but I generally like to start the day with one. I find that having a plan helps me get the things done that I need to do.
When it comes to encouraging our kids in their spiritual growth, we need to have a routine, as well. We can't just expect our kids to learn healthy habits that will feed their spiritual growth on their own. We need to teach them to spend time with God reading their Bibles and praying. We need to encourage them during the week to think about how God wants us to act toward others. And we need to be an example of those things for them.
Ephesians 6:4 tells us "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." It's the last part of that verse that I want to focus on today. We need to bring up our children in the "training and instruction of the Lord." That takes a concerted effort on our part.
If we put our focus on helping our children create habits that will aid their spiritual growth throughout their lives, we're giving them the tools to continue to grow. Just like we teach our kids to eat healthy foods so their bodies can grow, we need to teach them how to fill their souls with spiritual food so they can grow spiritually as well.
- Emphasize the importance of spiritual growth with your kids. Lay an assortment of healthy foods in front of your kids. Explain that healthy foods help us to grow big and strong. Then show your kids a Bible. Explain that just like healthy food, the Bible helps us to grow. Ask your kids if the food you showed them can help them grow if they don't eat it. Talk about how the Bible is the same way. If we don't spend time reading God's Word, then it can't help us become more like God.
- Set aside some time each day for your kids to spend on their own with God. It doesn't have to be a long period of time, but it needs to be consistent. Get your child a devotional book to guide their time with God if they are struggling to know what to do during their God time. Let them know that their time with God should include prayer and reading the Bible.
- Talk with your kids about what they are learning during their time with God. Make it a dinner table conversation where everyone shares something they have learned in their time with God.
Making time with God a priority and a habit when your kids are young will make it easier for them to maintain that habit when they get older. Be sure you are setting an example by having your own time with God. Creating a routine for the habits of spiritual growth will help both you and your kids spend time with God. It will nourish your souls and create a habit that will last a lifetime.