Parents often feel pressure to lead their children spiritually. While there is a mandate to train and raise our children, I think sometimes we put too much focus on the HOW. My greatest tool for leading my children is to simply stay hungry myself and share with them what God is doing in my life. Every morning we would meet in the family room at 7 to check in, talk about our day, evening schedule, and it is my time to feed their spirits before they go out in the world. I was camped out in John 10 and came across this line, “My sheep recognize my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one shall snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else, so no one can kidnap them from me. I and the Father are one.” I highlighted to them that they could never be kidnapped from Jesus. They can never be taken away from Him. That simple line and 2-minute family devotion taught them a lot about who their Father is and placed a wall of security around them as they went out the door.
The child with the love language of quality time is filled up the most when they get your undivided attention. Nothing makes them come more alive than having you all to themselves.
Here are some creative ways to speak their language: **Cook together (meals have to be done either way, why not do it together). **Try a new hobby together. **Go on a walk together. **Set up a movie (theater or home) for just you two. **Schedule a weekly date. **Play a game with them. **Take them on a lunch date without any other siblings. **Bake cookies together. **Play catch in the yard together. **Have an overnight trip together.
These are the children who like to follow you around. They don’t really care what you are doing as long as you are together. As they get older, they are the ones who volunteer to go on errands with you just to be together. For a parent, this can be challenging to steward because, no matter how much time you spent with them yesterday, they will want to be with you again today. Because being together is so important to them, if they do not get their needs met, they are generally the ones who act out or toe the line just to wave a flag so that you see them. When you see them agitating siblings, do not separate them. Help them connect by spending quality time together. A great way to be proactive is to make sure every day you are carving out intentional time to spend alone with this child. It does not have to be hours, but a calculated five-minute date can water their heart deeply. While it may be a challenge, I strongly encourage you to fit this into your morning routine on school days. It has the power to radically change their ability to learn, pay attention, and connect well with teachers and friends.
One of the worst things you can do to this person is create an expectation of alone time with you but then be distracted by your phone. It is super isolating for this person to be with you but not with you. Remember, it is okay if our child’s needs stretch and grow us to become more like Jesus. The goal is not to see how little you can water their hearts; the goal is to allow their needs to refine, align, and heal the things in us that were lost or stolen. Spending quality time with a child has the power to ignite joy, enter rest, learn how to play, and increase our childlike faith.
What declarations are you making today? “I am afraid something bad will happen, and I won’t be able to keep my kids safe.” “This is the worst thing ever; we will never recover.” “This is terrible!” OR “God is in control.” “Jesus is alive.” “I am a child of God.” “He loves me and has my back.” “Fear is not from Him.” “I will know what to do because He lives inside of me.” “He gives me peace and rests in the storm.” “I trust His-story.” “I am loved.” “My emotions matter but do not lead me.” “I don’t know how God is going to work this out, but He always does.”
So be intentional about writing out three declarations and put them up on your mirror, in the car, and on your phone, and recite them often today. We become what we focus on and want to be anchored to the TRUTH (not facts).
The Word says in 2 Timothy 3:1-5: “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”
If this is what our children are up against, how can we stand against this force of reckless rebellion? By intentionally teaching and training character at an early age! What is good character? How can we teach our young children? How do we go after character without introducing legalism? How can we empower them through connection? How can we expect more out of our children?
I invite you to check out our CHARACTER COUNTS Magazine – Character Training SOAR Magazine – Let the Children Fly
Your child is hungry to learn and hear your personal stories. Your journey will shape them significantly, and your story’s chapters will be valuable to them. Share with them your experiences as it relates to their world. Tell them about a time you dealt with or struggled with the same thing they are walking through. Share with them what you have learned through your own mistakes. Tell them about your God encounters and what Jesus has said to you. You are not their royal emperor dictating from a throne. You are their parent – empowering, equipping, and leading them face-to-face.
Do a teaching with your children on our mouth and taste buds. Explain that our tongue tastes things that are bitter and sweet. Next, blindfold the children and lead them into the kitchen for a science experiment. Place a tiny dab of horseradish on their tongues and ask them what they think and then place a drop of honey on their tongues. They will probably beg for more. Share with them Proverbs 16:24 and discuss how our words need to be like sweet honey, not bitter horseradish. Practice role-playing some scenarios: What would words full of honey sound like when someone takes your toy? Is in your space? Has hurt you? How can you use words of honey to encourage others? Show honor to your parents and teachers? The goal is not the absence of negative feelings or reactions but to respond in love despite being upset or hurt. You can also take the opportunity to teach them how to be intentionally ‘sweet’ with their words as opportunities arise to bless others. In the days ahead, when you hear harsh tones and unloving words, call out, “Oh, that sounds like horseradish to my ears!” When you hear them speaking kindly, you can say, “Oh, I love the honey coming out of your mouth!”
This lesson was taken from our Character Counts SOAR parenting magazine. If you are interested in more activities, you can purchase your digital copy here: Character Training SOAR Magazine – Let the Children Fly
This is what the religious spirit looks like. A mom messaged me about a dream she kept having.
“Here is the dream: I am awaiting my turn to enter the Kingdom, and before I get there, I hear, ‘Do I know you? Do you know me?’ And I always awake abruptly. I have this worry when I wake, and I almost feel paralyzed in how to fix the problem. Like I have to jump through hoops to be back where I need to be. Or I have to perform to be good enough.”
I asked her if she was secure in her salvation. She was. I asked her how she felt when she woke up. She said she was anxious/worried. This is not how God speaks to us in our dreams, even if He is highlighting something. I told her to come out from under it, take authority over it and pray for Holy Spirit to guide her dreams. The spirit of religion was trying to groom her into thinking her relationship with God was not secure.
Fear knocked, and I felt seduced by it for an hour. I finally called a friend to pray with me and heard God say, “Your hedge is not high enough.” I knew He meant that I needed to increase prayers and declarations. I needed to put a verb in my prayers, so I asked Holy Spirit for a creative idea, and this is what He gave me. I had the kids all write out their worries, fears, and statements about the coronavirus. We shared our vulnerability as a family and then shredded them. We then wrote out TRUTH statements and hung them on our Cross. We feasted on these throughout the day. We wanted to do a prophetic act about the virus passing over our home, and instantly I remembered these balls I got at the dollar store years ago (they actually look like the virus). We put a bucket of warm soapy water outside our front door, made bold declarations that the virus would pass us over, and threw them into the soapy water. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you are building a hedge of prayer around your family in this hour.
I feel a strong stirring in my spirit that we all need to do our part to ‘clear the air’ in the spiritual realm. Who do you need to forgive? Make things right with? Let go of offense? Believe the best? Ask for forgiveness? Repent of judgments? Confess slander? Call a family meeting and walk this out together.
In doing this, we begin to clear the spiritual air and allow ourselves to get the fresh air our spirit needs to be healthy.
A dad was struggling to get his teen daughters to understand why their choice of music wasn’t edifying. The girls argued that it was ‘just a little’ bit of bad language and that it wouldn’t hurt anything. The dad prayed for a creative solution to get into his daughters’ hearts on the subject. The next morning, he announced he was making a very special dessert with “a very special ingredient.” He made a big deal of the upcoming dessert all day, and after their dinner plates were cleaned, they were begging for the much-awaited sweet treat. They scarfed down the yummiest batch of brownies, and while smacking their lips, they inquired about the ‘special ingredient.’ The dad sat back and calmly announced, “Dog poop, but don’t worry, it was just a little bit.” They seemed to understand in that moment that ‘just a little bit’ can indeed be harmful. This glorious creative teachable moment can be used with music, swearing, drugs, disobedience, alcohol, lying, slander, etc. Sometimes kids need a visual to understand your point.
Gather the kids and talk about the importance of feeding their bodies with healthy food. Remind them of the difference between sugar treats and healthy foods that produce fuel for their growing bodies. What would happen if they skipped a meal or a day’s worth of eating? Their tummy would begin to rumble, and soon, their discomfort would affect their emotions. Then talk about how God has given them a brain to think and how significant our thoughts are. If we say to ourselves, “I am stupid,” we will begin to feel stupid and eventually will act stupid. God wants us to feed our minds with thoughts that are in alignment with what He thinks about us, “I am priceless,” “I matter,” “My voice is significant,” “I am loved.”
Talk about our spirits and the importance of feeding our spirit with life-giving things such as worship, talking with God, hearing what He has to say to others, reading the Word, loving others, thanking Him, asking Him for help, sharing testimonies, etc. When we feed our spirit with things like fear, lies, nursing hurts, offenses, and being entertained by the things of the enemy (murder games, violence, etc.), we will have a much harder time experiencing His love which He designed to be poured out to those around us. He still loves us, but our ability to receive and embrace it is affected. I often use this language with my children, especially after I notice the fruit of not being fed, “Hey, what have you done lately to feed your spirit? It looks to me like you might need to sneak away and spend some time with Jesus.” Or “Wow, that comment was not very kind. What things are you feeding your mind lately?”
All of these things are like putting a spoonful of fresh, organic veggies in our mind and spirit. Failure to feed our mind and spirit leaves us dry, empty and feeling disconnected. Help your children make a list of ways they can feed their mind and spirit and then feed them daily.