If you have been working with your children on our year long challenge to teach them to live more like Jesus, they are hopefully developing some great new habits. You may be wondering about this month’s challenge though. Why is it important for our children to know how to ask meaningful questions and listen to the answers with love?
Jesus set a wonderful example by reaching out to the marginalized people of his day. No real religious leader at the time would want to have been seen with tax collectors and prostitutes. Yet, Jesus knew their hearts and spent time with them. He didn’t just meet their physical needs though. He spent time in their houses (Luke 19:5).
If you visited someone in their home at that time, it meant you were spending a lot of time talking. They not only had ordinary social conversations, but often they discussed and debated religious and political issues. Jesus is often pictured asking people like the woman at the well important questions, listening to their answers and giving them a meaningful way to God.
Today our world is very different in many ways. Conversations are often texts or tweets of 140 characters or less. Even when we are in the same room, you will see people hunched over their phones texting and tweeting constantly. When is the last time you had a conversation with a friend where you revealed your hearts to each other? What about a total stranger?
I think people today are starved for someone who will take the time to get to know them and love them for who they really are. I would imagine most people feel there is no one who knows the real “me”. What they crave is what only God can really give them. Yet, you and your children can reflect some of God’s love to them in the ways you interact with them.
Teach your children to turn off their devices when they are with their friends. Train them to ask meaningful questions when their friends choose to reveal something personal about their lives, especially if it is painful to them. Let them practice at home. What questions would you ask if your friend just told you she found out her Mom had cancer? What if her parents were getting a divorce?
The questions shouldn’t be posed to get personal information, but to help the person sharing work through their emotions. Your child should help their friends find words to describe how what is happening makes them feel.
Even if your child has no idea how to help his friend through the current circumstances, he can share how God has helped him through tough times. Encourage your children to share about prayer, their church family and most importantly God’s all encompassing love which ultimately sent Jesus to die on the cross for us. This is one of the most meaningful ways for your children to share their faith with those around them.
So, spend some time this month playing a new version of twenty questions with your children. Help them practice ways to make all of their questions more meaningful and then show them how to listen intently with love and respond with God’s story. You and your children will make a huge impact on the lives of all of those with whom you converse.