God's Word teaches us that the spiritual training of our children is our responsibility as parents, but to be honest I've struggled over the years with how to do this. As I've prayed and tried different approaches, the following ideas have guided me.
First, as today's key verse says, before we're commanded to teach our children anything, we're told how to live out our own personal relationship with God by loving Him with all our heart. We've all heard the phrase that "more is caught than taught." We need to ask ourselves if we're living out in our lives the godly principles we want to teach our children. Kids tend to be very sensitive to hypocrisy, so if our children don't see us modeling God's truths, they're likely to tune us out.
Secondly, I've discovered that love is the most effective teacher. I experienced this firsthand in my life. I became a Christian as a teenager after my Young Life leaders took an interest in me, listened to me, and became involved in my life. They did this for years before I ever committed my life to Christ. Their love for me was genuine and I knew it. No one wants to feel like a project on someone's Christian "to-do" list. That includes our children. Training our children in God's principles happens best when our children know that we love them, we care about all aspects of their lives, and we value them as top priorities.
Third, I have looked for practical activities that will lead to great conversations with my kids. My favorite is when we sit down at the dinner table and each family member shares his "highs and lows." A "high" is simply something good that happened that day or week, maybe something that made that person happy. A "low" is something that made him sad or unhappy during the day.
Sometimes our sharing time is very light-hearted and silly, but other times it's more serious, leading to more questions and conversation. Most importantly, this sharing time provides an avenue for me to give my children some ideas for applying God's truth in a very real and practical way to what's going on in their lives. It's become one of our favorite family traditions.
As we pray for His help, I have found that God is always willing to give us great ideas for pointing our kids to Him.
Dear Lord, thank You for the children You've given me. Give me Your wisdom, strength and discipline in raising them to be godly men and women. Let my life be an example of loving and following You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.