3 Ways to Steer Your Child's Heart
Have you ever done a “heart-check” on your kids? I’m not talking about their annual well visits or a physical checkup to calculate their heartbeats or blood flow—but I’m talking about the state of their heart—in spiritual terms.
We have 4 precious daughters in our home. As a result we also have an incredible, built-in, free of charge, convenient and never-ending play-date.
In other words, we have an automatic “heart-checking” system in place!
I love celebrating my girl’s achievements- “Principal’s Award” at the end of the school year, a “star” for memorizing a scripture, or a gentle act towards their classmates. I am their biggest fan!
However, on the other side of that, as a benefit of raising multiple children, I’ve found that what seems like a tender and loving spirit outside of our home can quickly turn into a selfish…well, human… heart. A spat with a sister or an order from a parent will quickly reveal what is truly going on inside of their tiny little hearts and minds.
As parents, we have the privilege of having a front row seat as our children create their own little worlds, and it also offers us an up close view of what is happening in their hearts.
Our homes are a training ground and here we have the opportunity to observe, correct and pray!
As you and I know, developing a heart that resembles the heart of our Heavenly father is a work in progress. I want my girls to know that and to understand that outward achievements are great, but what matters is what is happening in their hearts.
“A work in progress.” We all are.
“Heart Checks.” We all need them.
As you continue to steer your children towards Christ, here are a few tips to help move scripture from their heads and into their hearts and out through their actions and attitudes.
1. Affirm them in scripture. Often times as parents, we want to use our children’s memory verses against them. When they are being disobedient, our first line might be “Johnny, doesn’t the Bible say to ‘Honor your father and your mother?’” (Paraphrase of Ephesians 6:2). But how often do we encourage them when they take a step toward Godliness? Try to look for an opportunity every day to confirm Godly character when you see it in your child. And use scripture if you can!
2. Help them to rewrite scripture in their own words. A lot of parents can begin to recite a scripture to their child, and I do it like the best of them. For me it is usually “Oh, how good and pleasant it is when sisters dwell together in unity.” But what is hysterical is that my children will finish it for me with “…for there the Lord commands a blessing!” (Paraphrase of Psalm 133:1). They will never forget that verse as long as they live, just like I have never forgotten it from when my mother would say it to me and my siblings daily. But the question is would my children be able to tell a friend, or even each other, what that verse really means? Practice helping your children understand scripture by asking them to write in their own words what that scripture means to them. Decorate post cards and put them around the house!
3. Be transparent with them regarding your heart issues. Often times I am adequately able to correct my children while simultaneously having heart issues of my own. In dealing with their whining or their tantrums, for example, I have often displayed anger and impatience. Nothing better demonstrates the importance of brokenness over sin than me revealing my own to my children and including them in my repentance of it. When appropriate, allow your children into your world. Let them see that you aren’t perfect, and that you are just as in need of God’s grace as they are. Even go as far as to share with them the steps that you are taking to change your attitude and heart in whatever area it might be. You can tell your children what to do, but ultimately they will more likely follow you in your footsteps.