One of the most bonding activities you can do with your child is to jointly express your spiritual nature before God. In this area, especially, children can often end up the teacher. Jesus said in Matthew 19:14 that the kingdom of God belongs to children. Within their innocent questions and uncomplicated conclusions, children are able to grasp deep spiritual concepts.
Our adult minds go off into all sorts of theological tangents, sometimes causing us to become spiritually knotted up. A casual comment or earnest question by a child has a way of untangling our arguments and pointing the way back to the truth.
As you look for healthy activities for your child, don’t forget the spiritual. Spend time each day in prayer with your child. Many parents find bedtime for their children to be a wonderful time for spiritual bonding. My wife, LaFon, and I read to our young sons from the Bible each night and pray together with them. We also incorporate spiritual concepts and ideas into our everyday activities and conversations. We make God a regular, normal, integrated part of our family life.
What is the cost of this? You must remain genuine at all times with your children. Your demeanor must be consistent—no “church” personality and “home” personality. In order to instruct your children about God and model Christ to them, you must accept that how you live your life is an open book for your children to read and interpret.
I am amazed how many parents spend volumes of time and energy making sure Johnny does his homework and Susie gets to her soccer practice but put almost no time or thought into preparing their children spiritually. They will get their children to church on Sunday and drop them off at Sunday school, assuming their job of spiritual instruction has bee completed. They may be at weekday sports practices and every Saturday game—rooting, cheering, being involved—but adopt a completely passive posture when it comes to spiritual issues with their children.
If you find yourself falling into this trap, listen to the words of the apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 4:8: “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”
Below are ten suggestions on how to maintain meaningful spiritual activities:
- Take your child to church.
- Make sure your child gets to Sunday school.
- Allow your child to be involved in a midweek church group.
- Pray and read the Bible together daily.
- Allow time for your child to ask questions about what you’ve read together.
- Talk about spiritual concepts as a part of everyday life.
- Be open and transparent to your children about your own faith.
- Share your personal testimony with your children.
- Act as if they truly are the gift of God they represent, even when they don’t act like it!
- Read spiritual resources that will help you teach and model your faith in God and Christ.
The spiritual activity you engage in with your child will enrich and flavor every other activity, whether physical, mental/intellectual, or emotional/relational. Just as Christ “holds all things together” (Col. 1:17), your spiritual activity bonds your family and all your other activities together. Don’t neglect this vital part of your family and your child’s life.
Authored by Dr. Gregory Jantz, founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE and author of 30 books. Pioneering whole-person care nearly 30 years ago, Dr. Jantz has dedicated his life’s work to creating possibilities for others, and helping people change their lives for good. The Center • A Place of HOPE, located on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, creates individualized programs to treat behavioral and mental health issues, including eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety, and others.