Teach your children well

teachyourchildrenwellTake time to discuss the things you believe

| by Jeff Stearns

A few months ago I sat down at the Irish Harp Pub with my 11-year-old son for a couple of Cokes, onion rings and Canadian wings—chicken wings covered in this mixture that includes maple syrup and bacon. It is so wrong and yet so very good. My intention was not just to get into the bad books with my doctor, but also to talk to my son about what we believe.

I am responsible to train up my children. Yes, we do attend church and my son is now going to a junior youth group. But that does not excuse me from my godly responsibility. So, each night I read Bible stories to my children, pray with them and read from Psalms or Proverbs.

Throughout the day I try and model what it looks like to live a life of faith. I want my sons and daughters to grow into godly men and women who love Jesus. I also want my sons to know how to be a man.

Speaking man-to-man begins at home. Man-to-man begins with knowing the perfect man—Jesus. That’s why I have committed to get together with my son on a regular basis to talk about life and what we believe. It is like informal catechism classes but hopefully much more interesting.

This requires me doing my homework. Yes, sorry, I said that dreadful word “homework.” Whoever told you that you would never need to do homework again lied to you. Man up, you can do it.

Help available

To start with I needed to know what to talk about. Where do you start? Is there a plan? Am I sure I know what I believe? This can seem intimidating at first glance but it is comforting to know there are several different resources that can help:

  • Know What You Believe, by Paul Little and James Nyquist, is a great book that covers our foundational beliefs in a very approachable manner. There are other similar titles, but this is a good one to start with.
  • Your church’s website. Most churches have a “What We Believe” page and often link to your denomination’s website with even more detail.
  • Ask your pastor. What pastor would not love to help you figure out how to talk about your faith?

A great resource can help you plan it out into small chunks so that neither of you is overwhelmed. I decided I wanted to break it down into small sections so we would have time to talk about other stuff as well.

Make it special. The first time we got together to talk about what we believe I wanted to make it special, hence our trip to the pub. It was somewhere fun and different where we could talk; I wanted it to be memorable. Since then we have gone to places like McDonald’s or even as part of a road trip.

I told him I wanted to get together regularly to talk about what we believe so that he knew this was different.

Make it relevant. When we talked about how God reveals himself to us, I brought up the question: “What if someone tells you ‘God told me…’” Try and relate it to their experience.

Don’t be afraid of questions, or of telling him you don’t know the answer. One time, just as I was about to bring up the topic I had looked into, he asked me about the End Times. It was kind of like opening your exam in high school to find out you studied the wrong subject.

However, out of that question came a great discussion and it was important to him because of things he had heard. If your child asks you a question you can’t answer, then tell him you don’t know and you will look into it. Make sure you follow through. You will find yourself growing through these times as well.

Encourage other men to do this as well. If there are a few of you doing this you can get together as a group to share ideas and resources. Pastors and youth pastors could promote this idea to parents of your junior highs or teens. We can all learn more when we are in community.

Jeff Stearns works for Promise Keepers Canada and is part of the SEVEN magazine team. He and his wife, Jacqueline, are busy raising five kids; praying they will always love Jesus and grow up into godly men and women.

The article above is featured in the special July/August 2012 issue of SEVEN magazine.