Teaching your child to love the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his mind. . .
Isn’t this the deepest hope of every Christian parent?
Of course it is. You want to parent in truly biblical ways. You probably consider Christian parenting more important than helping your child do math problems or learn spelling words. You’re right!
But don’t you feel ill-equipped for teaching a child to love the Lord? Are you afraid you’ll mess up? Or that you already have?
Teaching a child to love the Lord is daunting, worthy of an oh-my-God-help-me prayer. But it also is rewarding and among the greatest blessings of parenthood. It is God’s call to every mom and dad!
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
What’s Your Goal?
Have you stopped and asked yourself, “What am I trying to accomplish as a Christian parent?”
Why not cling to the apostle Paul’s goal for his spiritual children? That they be changed into the image of Christ.
. . .my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you! Galatians 4:19, ESV
How do you teach your child to become more and more like Christ?
I love the way biblical counselor Lou Priolo specifies the three ingredients of the “Christ formed in you” process:
the Spirit, the Scriptures, and time.
INGREDIENT 1: The Spirit
Your child needs the Holy Spirit for heart transformation so he or she can become more and more like Christ. No Spirit, no godliness or growth or anything good.
Mom and Dad, you do not want a “well-behaved” child. Your goal as a parent is teaching your child to love the Lord with all their heart.
Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:23
Your part: As early as possible, begin teaching your child about who Jesus is according to the Bible.
INGREDIENT 2: The Scriptures
Can a Young Child Learn Spiritual Truths?
Yes! Here are two examples.
- Timothy, a young man, whom the apostle Paul befriended learned God’s Word from a young age.
. . .and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:15
Guess who was integral to Timothy learning scripture? His mom and grandma!
I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. 2 Timothy 1:5
2. Lou Priolo shares the sweet story of his daughter Sophia, who was 2 years old at the time, saying “Daddy, you should ‘Do all things without complaining or arguing’” — quoting Philippians 2:14. The little girl quoted Scripture after her Daddy sighed grudgingly when asked by his wife to do something.
Hearing a little child quote Scripture is music, isn’t it? Does your child know some Bible verses? Do they flow from your child’s heart easily and often?
Your part: Teach your child to love the Lord by quoting Scripture. Show him or her the verse in the Bible. Read it together. Memorize it.
INGREDIENT 3: Time
It takes time to teach your child to love the Lord. God didn’t invent an “instant mature Christian” pill. As mentioned, becoming more and more like Christ is a process. While teaching your child, you’ll grow spiritually too.
It’s worth the investment of your energy, isn’t it?
Don’t worry if you don’t get it all right. Who has lived a perfect life but Christ?
Your part: Breathe. Pray. Believe God loves your child better than you do. Smile.
Great Resources for Teaching Your Child
I highly recommend these resources for teaching your child.
Give Them Grace: Dazzing Your Kids with the Love of Jesus by Elyse Fitzpatrick & Jessica Thompson.
Instructing a Child’s Heart by Tedd & Marcy Tripp
Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Ted Tripp