Every Christian parent wants their children to grow in Christlike character and learn and apply truths from God’s Word. Teach with more confidence and experience greater success success with this simplified approach to Biblical instruction and character training!
Parents’ Role in Biblical Instruction
Deuteronomy 6:6-7 tells us, “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). No matter what our “approach” is with our children, first, God’s Word must first be in our hearts! It starts with us accepting and living out God’s precepts for ourselves, setting a good example for our children. They say apples don’t fall far from the tree. It’s true! We can’t honestly expect our children’s character and commitment to GodâEUR(TM)s Word to exceed our own. Jesus himself said, “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord” (Matthew 10:24). Instructing our children to live a certain way while our hearts aren’t in it is just plain hypocrisy. If we are sincere in our commitment to Christ, our kids will know, because they live with us and see us at our best, and our worst. They know how we respond to struggles, stress, fatigue, etc. We aren’t going to pull the wool over their eyes when it comes to our faith walk. If we are living a dual life, you know which path they will choose to follow: the path of least resistance, or the one that offers the most pleasures.
Theses verses tell us not only to believe, but to teach–and diligently! We need to instruct our children about what it is God expects from us. This means reading the Word to them and explaining what it means and how to apply it to real life. And notice who is doing the teaching–God is speaking to parents. We have to accept God’s Word as our own guide for life and then instruct our children to do the same. That’s a huge responsibility! What’s the best way to accomplish this goal?
Honestly, when we think of teaching, we typically think of methods that were all but foreign to the Hebrews. The Israelites didn’t sit at desks and do workbooks or hear lectures. They were taught through discipleshipâEUR”or following their teacher. We see this example with Jesus’ disciples–His followers. They lived with and watched Jesus for years. Jesus didn’t have a curriculum, let alone teach a Bible study. He showed them how to live by His lifestyle. The Deuteronomy passage connotes the same image. Parents, sharing with their children as they go about life–from morning to evening, and every step in between. Our children are our disciples, and they follow us as we follow Christ, so that they will follow Christ when our term as stewards is passed. This is the highest calling we will ever receive and we cannot waver in fulfilling our Biblical mandate.
Now, all of this may simply be a reminder or an encouragement to you at this point. After all, as Christian parents, we all desire to see our children walking with the Lord, don’t we? So now let’s dig in to some practical application.
First, let me tell you a bit about how we arrived at our approach to Biblical instruction and character training.
A few years ago now, my husband went through a comprehensive, cover-to-cover Bible study to find out what the Bible had to about the subjects of parenting and family. During this process, he noticed 12 consistent character traits that were common to all Sonavel of God’s servants, from the patriarchs to the prophets, and ultimately Jesus Himself. Upon further exploration, it became obvious that these 12 traits could honestly be said to encompass the whole of Scripture and the essence of Christlikeness. These are the character traits that God desires us to both live out and disciple our children in. After all, Romans 8:29 tells us that God’s goal for us is that we would grow into the image of Christ.
In focusing on these twelve values, we in no way diminish the whole of the Word of God, nor do we neglect to read, study, and teach it. Instead, we would say that the Bible is our road map (and a comprehensive one, at that!) whereas the core values are a compass that can consistently keep us pointed in the right direction. Remember the lawyer who summed up the whole of the Law in only two statements: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself” (See Luke 10:25-28). In the same way, the core values adequately convey the essence of the Bible’s teachings and help us to become the people that God wants us to be. By simplifying Biblical instruction and character training in this way, the process has become much less intimidating to us and we are more able to consistently help our children grow in their knowledge of the Word and in their faith.
With that being said, the twelve core values, in brief, are: faith, surrender, love, faithfulness, wisdom, self-control, righteousness, holiness, humility, diligence, generosity, and praise. Because the cornerstone of our faith is Jesus, let’s take a quick look at how our Savior exhibited these values in His character. We’ll also touch upon just a few of the many verses that show their importance to God when it comes to our personal spiritual growth.
The Person of Jesus
In talking about how Jesus embodied these values, of course there is a lot that could be said, so let’s just do a quick overview.
Let’s start with faith. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Jesus certainly had confidence in who He was and in what God had sent Him to do. He spoke with his disciples of His death and resurrection. He knew that many would not receive Him, but that He would be glorified at the right had of God. His faith sustained Him through unimaginable trials. Not only that, His entire life was a walk of faith. He taught that we need only have faith the size of a mustard seed in order to see miraculous things happen–and He lived out that faith as He cast out demons, healed the sick, and brought physical restoration to those who were disabled.
The heart of surrender is giving up our own ideas and desires to follow the perfect will of God for our lives. Jesus did this as well. Very often he was tired after many hours of teaching and healing and would try to get away to a quiet place by himself. Instead, he would be followed by the crowds and, taking pity on them, he would continue to give of Himself to meet their needs. He continually laid down His own desires for His life to follow after the will of His Father–even unto His death on the cross.