Have you ever tried to love something you thought might be good for you? What if that something seemed like it would be very boring?
I know treadmills are a great way to get cardio workouts during bad weather. As much as I want to like the treadmill, I just can’t make myself get on one. The one time my treadmill loving husband got me on one, I was off again in less than a minute, complaining of boredom. Knowing it will make me healthier is just not enough motivation.
Unfortunately, for many older children and teens in Christian homes, the Bible is their treadmill. These kids are being raised in homes by parents who love God and want to serve Him. They take their children to Sunday school and Church on a regular basis. Yet, their children think of the Bible as a boring book you are supposed to read. In fact secretly, many of them also think God is pretty boring, too – if He even exists.
What can we do to prevent this scenario from becoming more and more common? A lot of factors contribute to the problem, but there are some pretty easy things you can do as a parent to instill a love for the Bible in your own children.
- Start young. I mean really, really young. We started reading the Bible to our daughter when she was only a few days old. Sounds a bit silly, but I wanted her to always remember God’s words ringing in her ears – even if she couldn’t really understand them yet. It sets an important pattern in your child’s life from the very beginning. It is much more difficult to convince a ten or twelve year old to love a book they have barely seen, than to create an atmosphere where the only thing the child has ever known is how special the Bible is.
- If your child has already been born, start today. It may be more difficult than if you had started several years ago, but you can still give your child a love for God’s Words. Don’t tell yourself you will begin tomorrow. Those tomorrows always seem to disappear in busyness. Start instilling a love for God’s Words in your child right now.
- Buy or borrow Bibles that are age appropriate for your child. I know, I am very strict about not “changing” God’s word. I also know that a child needs to hear those stories in words they can understand. Many churches will give you a children’s Bible if you can’t afford one. There are also baby Bibles with only a few words for each story and lots of pictures.
- Don’t wait too long to progress your child to the next most difficult Bible. One of the reasons children get bored with the Bible is that they are reading a Bible that is too easy for them. Your child shouldn’t be listening to you read out of a baby Bible when you are reading him complex picture books the rest of the time. Find a bible like the Student Discovery Bible that is still in simple English, but has lots of pictures and extra information like customs and geography in the sidebars. Make sure you are reading lots of different stories, too. There are hundreds of really interesting stories in the Bible. Don’t limit your child to the same ten they have heard a million times.
- Let your children see you love and treasure God’s Words. There is a reason God told the Israelites to talk about His words continuously to their children. God knows when children see and hear their parents valuing something that highly, they will usually grow to love it, too. Don’t believe it? Step into the South on any college football Saturday and you can watch children who have been trained from birth to have a fervent passion for the college their parents attended. We need to treat the Bible as if it were as precious to us as our favorite sports team, television show or hobby. (It should be more so, but that’s for another day!) Even the tiniest child can understand parents saying “I just love seeing God working!” or “Every time I see a rainbow, I remember how much God loves me and wants the best for me!”or “I love reading the Bible. It always makes me feel better when I am sad.”
- Constantly tell your children how lost you would be without God. Point out to them when you see God working, answering prayers, providing protection, giving His grace and mercy. Give them examples of how the Bible helped you make a wise decision which went against the world, but was absolutely the smartest thing you could have done. Give them examples of the earthly consequences you suffered or those you know experienced from disobeying God’s commands. Teach your children how to use godly principles to help make decisions that will take their lives in a godly direction. Even toddlers can understand simple statements about God answering their prayer or God blessing them in some way.
- Tie your rules and consequences back to God’s commands and principles whenever possible. Your children need to understand that just like your rules are meant to train them to have the best possible life, you have actually based them on God’s rules because God wants the same for them. If you haven’t thought about it that way before, I think you can find a tie-in for all of your rules. Even bedtimes can be tied into the godly principle of taking good care of our bodies and how part of that is getting a lot of sleep until you are an adult.
If your child is older, these principles will get you started. As you progress, you may want to read some past posts about introducing your child to the Bible in additional ways more applicable to older children. In the meantime, I would love to hear your questions or have you share about anything that has worked in your home for introducing a love of the Bible to your child. If you want to surround your child with scripture, make sure to check out my Pinterest boards for cute ideas I have found on other sites.
You may not see results of your efforts for years. If we are really focused though, I honestly believe we can raise children who do not see the Bible as their treadmill of faith!