‘Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
It’s been on my heart to share how I teach my daughter about Christ! This is such an important topic to me — I feel very strongly about guiding my daughter to Christ, largely because (1) I care about her eternity, and (2) I want my child to encounter Christ early in her life, to be in relationship with Him and abide by His Holy Spirit. Communion with the Holy Spirit is such a treasure, one that I want my child to rejoice over and not take lightly. God saved my life, but I want her to be close to God so as to not have to be rescued, you know?
Raising our children in Christ is not an option — Scripture is very clear about our roles as mothers — “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” The word “train” is “chanak” in Hebrew, and it is defined as “to initiate, to inaugurate, or to dedicate.”
So, how in the world do I train my children to follow Christ?
I think it is interesting that chanak is defined as inaugurate. To inaugurate someone means, among other things, to begin or introduce. Thus, I am directed to introduce Raegan to Christ. Further, I am called to dedicate her to the way she should go. What does a proper introduction to Christ entail? How can I dedicate my Child to God?
For Christian parents, it means a variety of things! As a single mom, this can be particularly challenging since you are the leader in your home.
However, it is not impossible. You can teach your child to follow Christ, even as a single mom.
Below are some of the methods I use to train up my daughter Raegan as a single mom.
- Intentional family prayer time— One of my good friends refers to this as family altar time (which makes sense, as the word chanak appears in reference to dedicating altars in Numbers 7:10-11). Here, I intentionally set aside time to sit and teach Raegan about the Word of God and God’s character. I teach her to memorize Scripture, explain Biblical stories, and allow her to ask questions from her little four-year old mind. My fiance shared that his dad used to have him read a chapter of Proverbs per day, and then they would discuss it during the ride to school in the mornings. One of Raegan’s favorite Biblical truths is about Joshua and the battle of Jericho. I encourage you to read the Word of God to your kids and explain how they can apply it in their lives, even as children.
- Intentional individual prayer time — When I have my quiet time, Raegan often runs to grab her own journal and a children’s Bible. She climbs up into my bed next to me and begins to look over the pictures depicting the stories she’s heard about. I ask her to write or draw out her prayers to God. Sometimes we light candles (be careful!) and have our journal/quiet time together, side by side. I give her a blank note pad or journal, and let her have at it! That way, I can sit at my Father’s feet while she does the same. My favorite children’s Bible is Jesus Storybook Bible, but Raegan has about five or six others that I really like. Check out Lifeway for options!
- Intentional corporate prayer time/church — In our home, church is not an option. I highly encourage you to have your child involved in your church’s children’s ministry. Further, be engaged in your child’s ministry. My church teaches the Word of God at an age-appropriate level to children. They provide hand outs and take-home activities that I like to complete with Raegan in our family prayer time. If your church does not have a children’s ministry, be mindful of what you allow your children to do during service. Bottom-line: church reinforces what Raegan is hearing at home with me. I discuss what they have taught her, and this helps me to stay in the loop and know what it is being discussed. Likewise, church should reinforce what you are already teaching at home.
- Integrity — The biggest teaching tool you have is your life– live your life with integrity before God. That old saying “
Do as I say, not as I do” has no place in my home. Children pick up on what you do and what you say, whether you want to acknowledge it or not. Further, the seeds you plant by teaching your child to memorize scripture or taking them to church every Sunday… can easily be snatched up if you still live as if the Scriptures do not exist Monday through Saturday — it is a false piety. This damages your witness to your own child. Further, we continue the cycle that says “I was raised in the church” but the child is not willing to live as member of the Church (capital “C”) body. We can bring our children to Christ by living a life transformed by the living and active word of God. Essentially, your private life must match up with what you are preaching to your child. Thus, living/sleeping together with someone who is not your spouse, gossiping, rage, envy, lying, selfisness, etc., all these things must be addressed. I cannot tell Raegan to honor God with her body and then live with/sleep with my fiance. I cannot tell Raegan that God wants us to work as unto Him, and I go to work with a bad attitude. I cannot tell Raegan to love people and help the poor, when I cut them off, walk past someone in need, or never humble myself. This would be very confusing to Raegan — Do I not believe in what I say I believe? It would not make sense to her. Thus, your life teaches them what it means to be a follower of Christ. This is probably my biggest parental challenge, but it is both humbling and encouraging to see the seeds that were planted while she was in the womb blossom right before my eyes.
- Let God be all and in all — Christ is in all we do. I reference Scripture for discipline and point to verses discussing why a behavior is or is not pleasing to God. For example, she knows that when I tell her to do something, she needs to be obedient and do it because she must honor her mother and her father so that it may go well with her and she will live a long life. (Deut. 5:16). Raegan knows that it is wrong to go into the refrigerator and take Mommy’s snacks without asking Mommy because she must not steal. (Exodus 20:15). Raegan knows she better listen to her teacher at school because she must show proper respect to everyone . (1 Peter 2:17). Basically, I am intentional about pointing to Scripture as guidance for how we should react to traffic jams, people asking for money on roadsides, and exercise. Practically, we bless our food because we are thankful that God provided it. I helped her develop a prayer list so she can pray for her little friends and teachers. We discuss and apply Scripture to her challenges at school, whether it involves listening to and honoring her teachers, resolving conflicts with her friends, or simply learning how to be a good leader. In this way, Christ isnt sequested off into our Sunday. Rather, He is the center of our everyday life.
- Be purposeful with holidays — I try to be intentional about teaching Raegan the purpose of Christian holidays. This can be a challenge, particuarly because she is school-age and schools focus on class parties and such. Those things are fun, but I do not want Raegan to miss the point in Christmas and Easter — Jesus. Thus, we discuss Jesus’s birth and death all throughout the year. When the Christmas season rolls around, we focus on reading Scripture discussing His birth and the prophecies that foretold the birth. I really focus on getting her excited to celebrate Jesus’s birth! She was so excited to the point that she wanted to throw Him a birthday party! I took her to pick out toys and Bibles to give away to families who needed them. On Christmas morning, we gathered with our family and read about Jesus’s birth. For Easter, we discussed how Jesus made a way for us to personally commune with God. We discuss how we have access to God and how all of our sins are forgiven. We read verses as well. Our holidays are not a passive celebration, but one of rejoicing.
- Be mindful of her environment — I do not allow secular music in our lives. I am mindful of the TV shows and movies she watches (I even check the background of the producing companies sometimes). I watch the toys she plays. Some of my favorite resources include Lifeway Christian Stores — they have a great kids section with books, games, toys, DVDs, and music. I love the Bibleman (pictured below on the right) and the Veggie Tales series. Joshua and I purchased children’s Christian music for her to listen to as we drive around town or on roadtrips. We also read books that do not dishonor God. Much in the same way I read books, listen to podcasts, listen to sermons, and listen to worship music, I provide the same age-appropriate opportunites for my child. Here and here are two great books I recommend, and here is a link to a children’s worship CD that Raegan loves. Of course, I listen to my favorite worship songs while driving, cleaning, or having my quiet time. My daughter’s favorite song right now is “All About You Jesus” by River Valley Worship. I am also conscious of how I decorate my home — I buy kid-appropriate art for her room with scriptures on it (found at Hobby Lobby, pictured below on the left). Lastly, I take her to participate in Christian events, such as poetry readings, etc.
- Prepare your child for leadership — I pray over Raegan every night. In that prayer, I usually thank God that she is a light even in her pre-K classroom. I thank God that she is bold even now, as I watch her speak truth to her friends. Raegan is very headstrong, but I train her to wield her leadership skills respectfully, being mindful of others beyond how she may feel at a given moment. This is a challenging area, but I noticed that she matured in this area this school year. I train her for leadership by asking, “What do leaders do? Raegan, was that [i.e., whatever she just did] good leadership?” In this way, I am striving to teach her that leadership is servanthood.
- Be confident in the grace God has given you — although single parenthood is not God’s intended design for the family, that does not mean that He has somehow left us to our own devices or has disowned us. Rather, He gives us the Holy Spirit to lead us and guide us in all things, including parenting our children by His standards. Again, Proverbs 22:6 is not a suggestion — it’s a directive from God. He will give you grace to carry that out. Also, remember, this directive carries a promise with it– as your child grows up, they will not depart from God. Rest in the fact that you are planting good seeds. If you have worries over a certain area, I encourage you to pick up the book below by Stormie Omartian (recommended to me by my future mother-in-law 🙂 ). I went through a 30-day journey of praying over different areas of my daughter’s life, and it really helped me.
What are some of the ways you teach your child about Christ? Feel free to share in the comments!
I know it may sound daunting or like a lot of work when you write it all out, but it’s not! Literally live your life in pursuit of Christ, and make conscious efforts to train up the person who is right there on the journey with you!
Of course, everything I wrote has no bearing if you have not acknowledged Jesus Christ as your Lord. I invite you to surrender to Him right now — tell Him you want Him to be your Lord and Savior, and believe in your heart that He died and was resurrected. Start pursuing a relationship with Him, and bring your kids along for your lifelong journey!
You can do this by His grace.