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How to Teach Christian Values

Raising children so their lives are built on the foundation of God’s truth and so their lives reflect Christian values is becoming extremely challenging in our ever­-changing world. The Ten Commandments and nativity scenes are being removed from public buildings. What our children see around them instead in media and entertainment feeds a very different set of values. How can parents instill biblical values in their children?

Keep calm . . . go to church.

In our house we don’t go to church. (I can hear the collective gasps now. It’s okay. I urge you to continue with the rest of this article.) We have “Jesus Time.” My youngest daughter coined that phrase as we journeyed to church one morning, and it has stuck ever since. In fact, that phrase has carried over to my grandchildren as well. For some reason, saying that we are going to have “Jesus Time” has made getting up and getting ready much easier on Sunday morning.

Of course going to church is one of the most important things you can do to provide the foundation of Christian values for the lives of your children. But, obviously, there are obstacles. Sometimes children get the wiggles and giggles as they sit in the pew waiting for the sermon to be finished. If you have school-­age children, you could give them each a paper with words found in the Bible. During the service, your children can circle each word as they hear the pastor say it. You could also give them a code word before the service. Each time the pastor says that word, they mark it on a sheet of paper. These activities keep your children involved in the service and in hearing the message the pastor has prepared. When the service is over, you can discuss the sermon together. If you have older children, you can get them involved by having them bring their Bibles and high­lighters. Whenever the pastor refers to a Bible verse, they can highlight that verse in their Bibles. Get creative!

The more your children are involved in the message on Sunday morning, the deeper the seed is planted. The deeper the roots of their faith go, the easier it is for them to face adversity and stand tall in their faith.

Stand up for what is right, even if you are standing alone.

We all want to be liked. We all want to belong, and we want to be a part of the “in crowd.” Sometimes, to fit in, children will follow along with whatever the rest of the group is doing so that they are not seen as different or weird. Most times this leads to trouble. There are ways to equip your children with the skills to walk away from behavior that dishonors God and compromises their faith.

First and foremost, children need to know that no matter who likes them on this earth, they have a best friend. They need to know that their best friend is a man named Jesus, who walked this earth and was tempted just like they are. Jesus was made fun of when he stood up for what was right, just like your children may be. Jesus hung on a cross, endured unfath­omable pain, and died so that your children could have life with him in heaven someday. He tells us that because of our connection to him, we may stand alone sometimes. Because he is also true God, what he accom­plished when he suffered on the cross gives us the reason to stand up for what is right, even if we stand alone.

There are things you can do to help your children be prepared for those times. Play the “what would you do” game. From the time my children were small, I would give them various sce­narios that they might encounter and ask them what they would do if these things ever happened to them. For instance, “What would you do if you were with your best friend and she stole something from the store and wanted you to steal as well?” My chil­dren would give me their answers. I would either agree with what they said or I would say something like, “Or maybe you could . . . ” By playing this game, you give them tools to do what is right in a challenging situation. At the same time, you are laying a foun­dation of healthy values upon which they will build their lives.

Teaching your children God’s Word so that the Holy Spirit has the chance to strengthen their faith is the way to nurture God­-pleasing values. Teaching your children how to respond to challenging situations before they happen is a good way to help them live according to those values. Of course, there are going to be numerous times when your children face situations they haven’t thought through in advance. Then their study of God’s Word becomes very important, guiding their con­sciences and giving them the courage to follow their consciences.

Use television shows and topics from the news to discuss your Christian beliefs.

Turning on the television and trying to find something wholesome for children to watch is becoming almost as hard as the new math the kids have to do these days. Even the news is disgusting and full of hateful human acts. But you can make use of the television as one of the many tools to teach Christian values to your children.

Recently when my grandson was visiting, I turned the television to a popular children’s channel. Abruptly, on the screen, two young ladies were kissing each other. I was stunned. As a matter of fact, I was speechless for a few minutes. It’s obvious that the entertainment industry has an agenda to teach a very different set of values than those I have learned from God. I shut off the television and turned to my grandson, who looked equally as baffled as I was. Then he started to fire the questions at me: “Why were those girls kissing, Grandma?” “Girls aren’t supposed to kiss each other, are they?” Once I broke from my astonishment, I grabbed my Bible and my grandson and we sat at the table. I explained that what we saw was not right. Then I went to the corresponding Bible verses and allowed the Word to do the rest of the explaining.

I’m thankful that I turned on that television show for a moment. I was able to use God’s Word to explain that what my grandson had seen was a sin. It also gave me the opportu­nity to show him that the Bible is the standard of truth for us and to teach what the Bible says. Of course, we won’t be watching that show again. But I encourage you to use whatever is happening on the news or your television as a means to discuss what the Bible teaches. I am not saying that this gives you permission to watch things that are deplorable to the Lord. I am just saying that if you happen to come across something that needs further explanation, by all means, USE THE BIBLE!

Instilling Christian values in your children in a secular world is not an easy thing to do. But the Lord pro­vides plenty of teaching moments. If we are willing to take the time to make use of these moments, our children will remember the lessons for years to come.


 

By Jennifer David-Sayles, from Parents Crosslink © 2014 Northwestern Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Jennifer David­-Sayles, a freelance writer, is married to her best friend. She is the mother of four beautiful daughters and grandmother of two amazing grandsons. She resides in Gilford, MI, and is a member of St. Luke in Vassar.

Image credit: "The Love of God" by Justin Lowery is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

 

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