From the day we tote our pruned, magenta, bundles of joy home from the hospital, we’re imparting life skills: how to fall asleep, how to use the bathroom, how to nibble a bratwurst without choking.
They start life in the car seat, but our goal is to eventually hand over the keys.
But even if my kids can obtain their MBA and perform as a concert pianist on the side, I have to ask myself if I have given them the right tools to have spiritual life skills? Will they lack spiritual life skills, like how to talk with God? And to be the “servant of all” (Mark 9:35)? Do they know how-to live-in community and worship God more than just on Sundays?
As a parent who struggles to the keep laundry from taking over, I get that adding “more” to the to-do list doesn’t always appeal. “Well, I could teach you to pray, but we’d have to forego the dental cleanings.” But somehow, we find time to teach our kids how to clean their bathroom, take showers for personal hygiene, and “stop shouting down the stairs, doggone it!”
So, why do we find it difficult to allot time for teaching them the important spiritual life skills we know they will need? When do we make time for what spiritually matters?
Spiritual Life Skills: Where or How Can I Start?
What are spiritual life skills? What are “the left-turns and snowstorms” we face in our spiritual lives? They are the opportunities we find to rely on God to take the lead within our life. It’s learning to trust in Him fully to navigate the difficulties or “drivers tests” of life. We need to ask ourselves, what kind of “God-lover” would you like to one day launch into adulthood? As parents we must demonstrate, nurture, and coach our children to not only have important regular life skills, but the critical spiritual life skills too.
Whether your child is closer to the car seat stage of life or about to get into the driver’s seat for the first time, we can start to both model and grow spiritual skills and teach them intentionally the life skills they need to be successful on their own. It’s not just the destination that matters, but the road to get there—we must pull our kids hearts into the journey, day after day, toward God.
A few ideas on how to get started:
- Write a verse of the week on a message board.
- Hold a Scripture-memory competition.
- Get a family pack of temporary Scripture-memory tattoos (totally a thing!).
- Dinner together and travel time (to school, to soccer) can become prime discipling time.
- Use the Operation World app to pray for the nation of the day (we’ve purchased a scratch-off map to keep track of countries we’ve prayed for).
- Create an “I’m sorry/I forgive you” culture in your home. Get real about what you’ve each done wrong and how you’ve harmed others, rather than covering up. Race kids to repentance.
- Be on the lookout for ways to incorporate prayer as part of your norm. Maybe it’s after a nightmare, on the way to school, after a bad day, or brief prayers of thanks.
- Help kids overlook an insult (Proverbs 19:11), by returning a blessing instead (1 Peter 3:9). This carries the Gospel at its heart.
Spiritual life skills start with small steps in our nitty-gritty lives. Exposing kids to have the healthy spiritual habits of lives that love and honor God.
Let’s prepare them to drive toward Him in every kind of weather.
The above excerpt is from Permanent Markers by Janel Breitenstein. Permanent Markers shows you how to kickstart habits in your kids for a robust relationship with God. This fun, practical handbook will walk you through the most vital, eternal part of parenting, empowering your family toward vibrant spirituality.