Use Teachable Moments
How can you bring God’s perspective into day-to-day life with your kids?
The familiar verses from Deuteronomy chapter 6 give us great insights for how to train our children spiritually. It says, “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
When I read those verse, I think of teachable moments—those times when we’re with our kids, we see something or hear something—a good thing or bad thing—and help our kids apply God’s truth to the moment.
We don’t need to spiritualize everything that happens, but if we really believe God’s Word and recognize that it’s living and active, with power to change lives, then it should be natural that we would bring it into our daily lives. Let me give you three ideas to help make this happen:
First, read the Word of God together as a family. Even if you don’t do extended devotional times, reading at least a few verses regularly will make a difference. It could be portions from Psalms or Proverbs, or somewhere else. But if you plant the Word in your children’s minds, I think you’ll find that’s fertile ground, and it will bear fruit. You may be surprised at how often those verses can be applied during teachable moments.
Second, be in the Word yourself. A few verses earlier in Deuteronomy 6, it says, “These commandments are to be on your hearts.” You see, to give God’s word to our kids, we have to get it first ourselves!
Third, spend time with your children—a lot of time. In a single day, your kids will experience dozens of teachable moments—seeing grasshoppers and rainbows, hearing sirens and curse words, walking by a homeless man or driving by a mansion; watching a sunrise. If you’re there, you can help your children see the world how God sees it. What makes Him happy? What make Him sad? What would Jesus do?
And finally, impress your kids. What does that word conjure up in your mind? Whatever “impress” may mean to you, it doesn’t mean a monotonous time of lecturing your kids or a lackluster session of reading God’s Word. No! If these things are really on your heart, then you need to openly express to your children your hopes and dreams for them to follow Christ.
When I think of impressing God’s commands on our children, I think of my own father, Ralph Casey. He had this one down. He would often say to my brother and me, “Hey, boys, let’s take a drive.” And as we were looking out the window and talking about whatever, he would often throw in a comment. Something like, “You know, it would hurt my heart if I ever thought you boys were using drugs.”
He didn’t preach to us about sex and drugs and everything else, but he did let us know what was on his heart. And that mattered to us because he had built a relationship with us. My dad let us know how important God’s commands were to him without creating an atmosphere of fear and danger. He impressed truth on us by building a strong relationship and showing us his heart. If it mattered to him, it mattered to us.
I urge you, dad, to let your feelings show as you encourage and urge your children to live lives worthy of God. Then later—because of your teachable moments—they’ll have a biblical worldview that will help them make decisions and defend their faith when you’re not around.