I once spoke with a teenager who had returned from a spiritually impacting week at a Christian camp. During that week the Lord had profoundly convicted her about her direction in life and she had recommitted herself to living a Christ-centered life. But when she arrived home and tried to explain to her parents what had happened, they didn’t express a lot of interest. After listening in silence to her share for a while, they broke in on her conversation: “But did you have any fun?” That’s the day she gave up trying to talk to her parents about spiritual things. She realized that they were more interested in finding out whether she had a good time than they were in what God was doing in her soul.
Here is some ancient wisdom from Moses the man of God encouraging parents and grandparents to have spiritual conversations in their homes.
Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children—how on the day that you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, the LORD said to me, “Gather the people to me, that I may let them hear my words, so that they may learn to fear me all the days that they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children so” (Deut. 4:9–10).
Family devotions or catechizing your children is all good if you work hard at winsomely and lovingly connecting the message of the Bible with your children instead of stuffing it down their throats. But today I want to encourage you to learn how to speak to your children as a habit of life—to bring God and his Word into normal conversation with them.
Perhaps the easiest way to learn how to do this is to start to offer personal testimonies to your children. “This morning I was reading in Exodus chapter 3 and noticed that . . .” or, “I noticed for the first time today that Matthew 13 has a lot of parables grouped together. I wonder why Matthew put all those parables together in that chapter.” Keep your conversations short, openhearted, and humble. Let your family members see that the Word of God is part of your daily life.
I was recently sitting with my wife and three of my four daughters at the dinner table. As we sat around talking after our meal, I simply commented, “This morning I was reading in Acts 1. After Jesus ascended to heaven, the eleven disciples decided to replace Judas with another disciple so there would be twelve again. Do you think they did the right thing?” We had a short conversation about this question and then moved on to something else.
One night I decided to be more proactive and ask everyone to bring a verse from the book of Proverbs to the dinner table. Each person read the proverb they had selected, and a few family members made comments. It was useful and edifying.
You might decide to make bedtime an occasion to connect with your children by reading the Bible and/or Christian books aloud to them. Or walk them through the grand story of the Bible, stretching it out for months by telling it as a big story like I once did with my two youngest daughters. Don’t worry if you don’t feel like you know the Bible very well. Good teachers know that they only have to stay one day ahead of their students. Read it yourself and then tell it to your children. Besides, there is no quicker way to learn the Bible than to teach it to someone else!
Whatever you decide to do, bring the Bible lovingly, humbly, and intentionally into conversations with your family. You can do this as you drive your children to school, or after a soccer match in the afternoon, or when your kids are just sitting around, or at dinnertime, or just before bed. But somehow bring God and his Word into your daily speech and let them see how much it has been impacting your own life.
Now I know that some of you reading these words are in a much more difficult family situation, where some family members might even be antagonistic to you saying anything about God’s Word. Just be wise and gracious and bring spiritual and biblical conversation into your speech whenever you think is appropriate as guided by the Holy Spirit.