Instructions, guidance, rules, and teaching are neverending in a family.
On a given day I could teach my children anything from how to properly wipe sticky rice off of a table to how to wire an electrical outlet. We could talk about the proper procedure for crossing a street or how to draw a frog.
Why do we teach how and when we do?
The reason is simple - it is because that is what we are doing.
We are going for a walk - so we talk about how to cross the street.
We are eating a meal together - so etiquette is discussed.
We read a book before bed - how to pronounce this word or that or what it means...
We are tossing a ball - so how to throw it better, faster, etc. comes up.
You get the point.
When then do we talk about God?
It should be just as natural and it should be all of the time.
Walking? Observe creation around you.
Eating? Give thanks.
Reading? Tie God into it, or read the Bible
Often, speaking about God with our children does not happen. It takes practice and purpose (like most of anything) to make us parents who are better at sharing God's love and truth with our kids as we go through life with them. Here are some helpful suggestions for more and better God-focused family times.
Fill Yourself Up. In Howard Hendrick's book, Teaching to Change Lives, his first "law" is the "law of the teacher," which is derived from Luke 6:40, "Everyone who is well trained will be like his teacher.” He says, "if you stop growing today, to stop teaching tomorrow," and likens the learning process to a stream and a lake. If we stop growing we become stagnant, gross water, and eventually dry up. People will not come back to us for water if we are all dried up. Parents can't rely on their past Sunday school lessons to teach your children. If you are connecting to God through the Bible and prayer, those things will naturally flow from you. These practices are more important and will have a greater impact than making a special family devotional time. If God is changing and growing you, you'll always have something to be teaching your children.
Connect Yourself. For me, one of the most encouraging (and, at times convicting) things is when I hear a friend detail a teaching moment they had with their child. I've heard and copied great ideas that were both impromptu and intentional. That's what these connections give us - encouragement and reminders to be speaking about God with our children and terrific ideas on how to do it well. It also gives you an outlet to share your own experiences, not to boast but to help others.
Share the Stage. The easiest times to talk to your children about God are when they ask a direct question about the Lord. These can be some of the hardest times too because those questions rarely have straight-forward answers. Sharing responsibility with your children can be a great reminder and help. One of my favorite pictures is a photo of my son when he was about 2 years old reading the Bible to my then-infant daughter. Assign your child a day when they are in charge of teaching the family about God. Have them ask a question, read a Scripture, or lead a prayer.
Redeem the Time. Are mealtimes just for eating food and nurturing your bodies? How much time does your family watch TV or use other devices? A family devotional doesn't need to be a separate special time of singing, prayer, and Bible stories, we can be teaching our children on-the-go, and as we go. How can you transform bath time, the ride to school, mealtimes, chore times (to name a few) to be Christ-centered and God-focused?
Make a Plan. For me, it has been so helpful these last couple of months to be thinking, "How can I teach this to my kids?" If you check out the family ministry page you'll see that I've also been asking, "How can I help other people teach their kids?" Either way, I start each week with 2-3 creative ideas for sharing God with my family. Having those mulling around in my mind makes a big difference in how often and how well I present God that week.
You are going to teach your chldren this week. You'll teach them by your words and by your example. You'll teach them by what you do and what you don't do.;what you say and don't say; what you watch and let them watch. You'll teach them about the things that you do together and you'll teach them about the things that matter the most to you.
I pray that as you go through life together as a family, you'll impress upon them the love and grace of Christ.