10 Truths Your Kids Must Know to Change the World

The great thing about kids and teens is their passion for changing the world. They notice things many adults have given up on trying to change. They have the innocence and passion to believe complex problems have simple solutions and that they have those solutions.

Unfortunately, Satan has a vested interested in the world’s problems remaining untouched. He will do what he can to discourage young people – especially Christian young people who might also teach those they are helping the things God wants them to know and do.

You can’t totally protect your kids from Satan’s interference, but you can lessen his effectiveness by teaching your kids some basic truths.

  • God has a plan. Find it. Follow it. God doesn’t want our world to be full of sin and chaos any more than we do. He gave us free will though so we aren’t just robots He controls. Unfortunately, many people believe because God doesn’t force us to follow His plan for how He wants things to be that He doesn’t have one. God has a plan. Your kids just need to be taught how to figure out what God’s plan is for solving the problem about which they are passionate and follow it. When they do that instead of trying to force their plan on to God, the implementation and results are often easier and better.
  • Pray. A Lot. Then really listen for God’s answers. Many people who want to make the world a better place, forget to pray to God for His guidance and assistance. Or when they do, they ignore all of the people and circumstances He sends to tell them to go in a different direction. Prayers often don’t seem to work, because we fail to remember it’s a conversation and we need to listen as much, if not more, than we talk.
  • Use their gifts or ask someone to help who was given the gifts you need. There are times when God asks us to do something for a period for which we are only adequate. In general though, God has built everyone a lane and their most effective ministry occurs when they stay in that lane. World changers often give up because they are trying to do tasks which God meant for them to ask others to do.
  • Take advantage of the opportunities God gives them. Sure, their plan may be more fun than the opportunity God is giving them right now, but there is a reason He wants them to serve in this way at this moment. Turning down those less glamorous, less fun opportunities God gives them to serve, may mean their personal ministry will never reach its full potential.
  • Be patiently impatient. God’s timing is perfect. Sometimes that means we need to wait until it is in His plans for us to do the next thing. On the other hand, sometimes God can’t use us, because we refuse to do all of those little things He is giving us to do now. Or we procrastinate for any number of reasons. Or we let others discourage us from pursuing the dream God has given us for our personal ministry. The key is balance.
  • Do their homework and be humble enough to learn from those who have gone before them. There is often an underlying arrogance about those wanting to change the world. They believe because previous people have failed to completely solve the problem, they have nothing of value to teach newcomers. They may indeed have a bright great new idea that will work. Or they may be getting ready to waste a lot of unnecessary time, energy and money on something that is not going to work. Ask questions, listen, learn…then analyze and make choices.
  • Remember bigger isn’t always better. It’s better to start small and let God give them a larger territory if it’s in His plan rather than starting too large and failing miserably – hurting others unnecessarily in the process.
  • Empathy Works. Sympathy doesn’t. Too many people in ministries and charities are full of sympathy. Unfortunately, that reads like they have all the answers and the people they are serving have nothing of value to offer. Empathy looks for commonalities. It learns from those it is serving rather than assuming it is the only one with the solution to the problem. Empathy loves like Jesus.
  • Equip and empower. Don’t boss and control. Ineffective leaders feel the need to control and boss people around. Effective leaders find people gifted in certain areas and equip, support, nurture and empower them.
  • Remember the ultimate goal is to help as many people as possible get to Heaven. Earthly needs and problems are important. If we help solve those, but don’t teach anyone about what God wants for them and from them, we have failed as Christians. We cannot and should not ignore earthly needs, but we can’t let them distract us to the point where we forget eternity is forever and our primary goal should always be to help people spend eternity in Heaven.

Who knows what good works God has planned for your children? If you help them learn these truths when they are young though, it is much more likely they will help the world be more like God planned it to be.

5 Things Your Kids Should Improve This Summer

This summer is different than perhaps any other summer. The reasons behind the differences aren’t great. Many of the activities your children normally do during the summer have been cancelled or modified. Or maybe your kids will have the same summer they have every year.

Regardless, summer is a great time to focus on growth and improvement. This summer, we are encouraging young people in a pilot program to spend a little time each day trying to grow and/or improve in five different areas. We believe the same framework will work with your kids at home. Here are the five focus areas:

  • Soul. The activities in this area should help your kids learn about God and become the person He created them to be.
  • Mind. Mind activities revolve around learning new things and improving in academic areas where there are weaknesses.
  • Body. These activities should help your kids grow stronger and healthier.
  • Family. Family activities should involve spending quality time together or serving one another in some way. It’s about strengthening family bonds.
  • World. These activities should involve learning more about the world and its people. Hopefully, they will also involve developing empathy, serving others and learning how to share the Gospel message in effective ways.

Don’t let your kids spend all of their summer on a screen. Encourage them to spend a few minutes of that time each day working on each of the five areas. You may all be pleasantly surprised what happens by the end of the summer!

Christian Parenting Challenges Week 3

We hope you are finding having a printable post with the previous week’s Christian parenting challenges makes it easier for you to do some of the challenges (or share them with others!). Here are the challenges from this week.

Monday: In this town, the children are responsible for answering the bell to raise the bridge when a boat needs to come through the canal. It’s a huge responsibility, but helps them grow and mature. It also gives them a sense of connection to their community and a sense of purpose. Your kids need roles that allow them to serve others. Roles that require them to be consistent, dependable and at times make sacrifices – putting the needs of others before their own desires. Give them or help them find their own ongoing responsibilities for serving others.

Tuesday: Cheese has an aging process. The maker does his job, but it’s not until the cheese has aged for a time that he knows whether his efforts were truly successful. Christian parenting can be like that. It may seem like you are working with your kids on the same things over and over with few results. That work you are putting in now may very well show results days, weeks, months, even years from now as your kids mature. Keep doing what you know God wants you to do to parent your kids towards Him. Don’t give up! The results may just amaze you!

Wednesday: In flowers you can see hints of what may be to come, but you don’t see the full realization until the bloom is fully open. The rest is just potential. Each of your kids has God given potential to learn about God, discover, develop and use their gifts to serve Him and grow to be the person He created them to be. Gift discovery is a huge part of Christian parenting. Unfortunately, most Christian parents aren’t aware of its importance in building a strong faith foundation and helping their kids grow to their godly potential. We have lots of blog posts on our website and you can search for them by typing in gifts, talents and service. Help your kids reach that gorgeous potential God gave them!

Thursday: Are there sibling wars in your house? We have a free parent tip sheet to help you actively teach your kids how to resolve conflict in godly ways. Contrary to popular belief, kids don’t usually “figure it out on their own.” Teaching your kids how to resolve conflict in godly ways can not only end sibling wars, but have a positive impact on all of their future relationships, too. http://www.teachonereachone.org/…/TORO%20Tips%20for%20Kids-…

Friday: Your Church may not be as historic as this one where John Adams and his family worshipped, but it is your family’s church home. Unfortunately, after several months of online, virtual or Zoom church, your children may be confused about the importance of in person, “real” worship and fellowship when it’s safe again. It’s important to have regular conversations about the benefits of worshipping in person with other Christians. Your children will learn and grow the most spiritually in a real versus virtual church environment. It’s important they understand why, or this generation may walk away from in person fellowship entirely. (Note: We are not advocating worshipping together in person until health officials believe it is safe to once again fellowship in large groups indoors. The vaccine will Lord willing be here soon and allow us to resume normal worship practices.)

Christian Parenting Challenges Week 2

Each week day we post Christian parenting challenges on social media. We want you to have a printable copy so you can remember them or use them any time you wish. Here are the challenges from this week.

Monday: Wearing a mask is a good opportunity to teach your kids about what the Bible has to say about obeying governmental authorities (Romans 13, 1 Peter 2 etc.) and loving others as we love ourselves, putting others needs before our own and more. It’s faith and love in action.

Tuesday: This wind mill has lots of moving parts. If one of them is broken, it must be fixed for the windmill to create the paper it was built to make. Christian parenting is similar. If your kids aren’t growing spiritually, some part of the process that was meant to help them grow has broken down. It could be their own heart issue or something they need from you to start moving towards God again. If you don’t take the time to analyze what’s causing the problem and fix it, your child will continue to move farther and farther away from God. Problems are usually easier to fix when they start, not after years of worsening. Don’t procrastinate!

Wednesday: Life is full of interesting things. And things that practically scream for our attention. It’s easy to get distracted from doing the Christian parenting things God wants you to be doing. Sometimes – like with an illness – it’s unavoidable. One thing I think the pandemic has taught many of us is that most of our distractions we have actively chosen to allow them to distract us. When they are removed, we often still neglect the things we need to be doing. Don’t excuse your way out of parenting your kids towards God. Be intentional. Make good choices. It’s worth it!

Thursday: When I was young, I was fascinated with Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins. It was fun to see her perform recently. Of course, we didn’t have the access to all of the information about the celebrities your kids do. Which makes being a fan a bit more spiritually dangerous for kids. I could only copy Mary Poppins or Maria in the Sound of Music as I knew next to nothing about the real Julie Andrews. Your kids can copy everything about their favorite celebrity from clothes to makeup to fowl language, illicit drug use and more (depending upon the celebrity of course). Even if they choose a Christian artist or a minister, those people can still make poor choices or sin. Teach your kids it’s fine to admire people, but they should focus their efforts on being like Jesus.

Friday: Most of these adults in Holland are already drunk at 10 a.m. They may look like they are having fun, they may have even convinced themselves they are having fun. Talking with locals revealed the daily heavy drinking is actually connected to the unhappiness they feel living their lives with no meaning and no sense of purpose. Kids and teens may only see the perception and not the reality in unhealthy and sinful coping strategies. Teach them godly ways to cope when they are lonely, sad or angry. Teach them the consequences of using poor coping strategies. Help them find their place in God’s Kingdom, so they will be connected and have a sense of purpose and belonging. Actively teach and model living the lives God wants His people to live….and make sure they see Christians can obey God and have a rich, full, joyful life.

Tiny Habits for Christian Parents

Do you want to do all of those Christian parenting things you know you should be doing, but struggle with consistency? Perhaps you do well for a couple of weeks, then something happens and you never seem to be able to keep up those great new habits.

The key word there is habit. Although Christianity is ultimately about our hearts, many of the things we need to do to keep our faith strong and Christian parent well are actually habits. We need to do them every day or several times a day to accomplish our spiritual goals.

If you’ve ever tried to break a bad habit or start a new one, you know how difficult it can be. Most of the time the very thought of trying to establish a new habit is enough to exhaust us. I don’t go to the gym because changing clothes, driving several miles, finding a class I like….all of it just feels too overwhelming.

There’s a great book called Tiny Habits by B. J. Fogg. I highly recommend reading it, if you can find the time. It’s not a Christian book, but a lot of the information can be easily adapted to be used in trying to live a Christian life.

There are a couple of key points for establishing new habits I want to share with you. It’s only a small fraction of all of the great material in the book, but you may find these three tips change everything for you.

Let’s say you want to have a family devotional time every day. You’ve started and stopped so many times, it feels like you will never be consistent. Here are three things you can do that may help you finally have those daily devotionals consistently.

  • Pick the best time. Find a time in your schedule as it is right now when you can easily and consistently fit a 20 minute family devotional. Make sure you consider possible roadblocks that could occur in that time slot, like a family member with other commitments. Let’s say your family always has dinner together. Can you work in the devotional immediately following your meal? Or could you have it while you are eating? Don’t try at this point to swap the devotional for another activity currently in that time slot, like watching a favorite tv show. You will be less likely to follow through if one of you feels they are giving up something for the new habit.
  • Make the new habit really tiny. This was the part that changed everything for me. Our new habits are always grandiose. We want a 20 minute family devotional that meets the spiritual needs of your kids, is engaging, and of course has some complex activity to make the point of the scripture reading memorable. It’s easy to fail the first time something goes wrong and give up. Instead, aim for reading a verse of scripture and having a very short prayer of blessing over your kids. Two minutes tops. If you want to do more, great! On those inevitable bad days, just read one verse of scripture and pray over your kids. Choose a book like Proverbs or a Gospel to start to make it easier to quickly find a great verse to read. (If you choose Proverbs, just read one verse from the chapter corresponding to that day’s date – January 15 – read one verse from Proverbs chapter 15. Or read the verse of the day in the Bible app.) A “victory” is that one verse and blessing prayer. Pat yourselves on the back and cheer every day you do it. On those days when you have a full devotional and activity…you’ve won the Super Bowl! On those crazy, bad days, you’ve still met your goal even if your family only read one verse of scripture together. The goal is consistency, not the amount of time or amount of scripture covered.
  • Create daily reminders you can’t miss. Set the alarm on everyone’s phone to go off at the chosen time. Have the Bible already out and open at the place you have chosen to have the devotional. Make signs that say “Devotional today at (time and place)” and hang them around your house where everyone will see them. Part of starting a new habit is remembering to actually do it! With lots of reminders, you will have less nights when you remember the devotional after everyone is in bed.

I encourage you to read the book to get more ideas, but start with these now. See if you can use them to ingrain those Christian parenting habits you need.