Family Fun With Bible Proverbs

Proverbs is a great book of the Bible to explore with children and teens. It has great, godly advice in easy to understand snippets. It has colorful and sometimes funny imagery. It even has thirty one chapters so each day of any month has a chapter to focus upon. Why not make studying Proverbs a fun family project?

Decide whether you want to read the proverbs aloud or independently. Although reading them to your kids is great, because Proverbs is a relatively easy book to understand, it also makes a good one to begin transitioning your kids to independent Bible study. If your kids haven’t been studying the Bible daily, you may want to start with covering only a few verses a day. Older children and strong readers may be able to process a chapter a day. Proverbs is packed with so much good information, that trying to focus on more than one chapter at a time can become overwhelming and undermine the possibility of specific proverbs taking root in the hearts and minds of your kids.

Regardless of how you decide to read the daily passage, choose a time of day when everyone can come together for at least a few minutes to discuss it. Attach the discussion to something you always do – like eating breakfast or a bedtime routine. The anchored habit will serve as a reminder to discuss the scriptures for the day.

When talking about each passage, focus on a few basic questions:

  1. What stood out to you in these verses?
  2. What do you think God wants you to learn from this passage?
  3. What is one thing you are going to change because of these verses?
  4. What is one thing you can share with your friends about these verses?

Notice that the questions are designed to encourage paying attention to the scripture, understanding the meaning of the scripture, putting it into action in their lives and sharing their faith with others.

On days when you have more time, do some fun activities based around the Proverbs. Make scripture art to display around your home. Find all of the fun imagery in Proverbs and explain why God might have used those vivid word pictures. Create a children’s book where each family member writes and illustrates a page or two about different Proverbs. Write and perform a puppet show for neighborhood or church children about Proverbs. Design and create tee shirts of a favorite Proverb. Make bookmarks with a proverb on them and give them away. Focus on living one Proverb each day and talk about what happened when you focused on living out that Proverb.

Have fun with it, but make sure your kids know, understand and live Proverbs. It’s a great way to instill Christian character traits and attitudes in a fun, easy to understand way.

5 Benefits of Family Chores

Chores in many families are often an individual effort. Each person has a list they need to accomplish over a specific period of time. Chores are a great way to teach your children a great work ethic and responsibility (as well as some life skills), but can often get side tracked by a myriad of issues. One way to short circuit many of these intrinsic issues is to switch up the model to one of family chores.

So what are family chores? Each family member may still have individual tasks to perform, but doing chores is presented as a family effort. So instead of having a child on “dish duty”, present it as “we are all going to work together to clean the kitchen after dinner”. The same child may still be responsible for loading the dishwasher, but everyone in the family has a task at the same time in the same area. This has the benefit of having a more deeply cleaned kitchen, while minimizing the “Cinderella effect” solo chores can have on children. (I’m stuck loading the dishwasher while my sibling is playing video games. Sure, the sibling had an earlier chore while the dish loader was playing video games, but that’s quickly forgotten!)

Or crank up some fun music and work together to clean the house every Saturday morning. You may be separated throughout the house cleaning different rooms, but the music ties everyone together. Or offer to help your child with a chore – like going on a walk with your son as he walks the dog.

What are the potential benefits of family chores?

  1. Gives you more opportunities for teaching and training your kids how to do certain tasks. It’s much easier on everyone if you are working with your child and see her put in a dish the wrong direction to make a quick correction than it is to call the child back to the chore after every dish has been placed incorrectly and must be replaced.
  2. Promotes the idea of your family as a team that works together for the good of all. Too many families are groups of individuals sharing a living space rather than an actual family. Family chores reinforce working together and helping each other reach goals and do things for the good of everyone.
  3. Gives your children the attention and time with you they crave. It’s amazing how much children open up when helping a parent cook dinner or clean a garage. They have your mostly undivided attention and can relax in that space and begin sharing their lives and hearts with you.
  4. Models the way churches should work. Too often dysfunctional churches are merely reflecting the dysfunctional families that attend them. Having a healthy family dynamic can provide an example for the members of your church and for your kids of how Christians should work together to accomplish the good works God has for them to do.
  5. Adds a bit of fun to boring tasks. Let’s be honest. Chores aren’t fun or they would call them hobbies! Working together to music, laughing, telling stories and jokes while you work can make something that’s boring seem more fun and help the time pass more quickly.

Try family chores for a while and see what happens. You may just find they solve a lot of your issues with chores.

Fun Way to Teach Kids About Honesty

Honesty is crucial to Christianity. When Christians lie – no matter how tiny the lie might be in the world’s eye – it undermines how people view Christianity and ultimately God. More importantly, the Bible makes it abundantly clear God HATES lies.

In a world where lying is accepted more and more each day, it’s important for your kids to understand some of the reasons why God hates lies so very much. There’s a fun activity you can do as a family to help your kids begin to understand why honest is so important.

Start by telling your children one of the many stories in the Bible where lying caused problems. You may even want to start with the first lie told by Satan to Eve in the Garden of Eden. Ask your children if they can think of more people in the Bible who lied and what happened because of the lie.

Tell them your family is going on a lie treasure hunt for the next week. You are all going to keep track of as many lies you hear as possible. You may want to review that lies can also be with holding truth, confusing people to hide the truth, cheating on tests and papers, etc. Encourage your kids to keep a list of the lies they hear during the course of the day so they won’t forget them. Each night have everyone share the lies they noticed during the day. What problems did they cause? What additional problems could they cause in the future?

To make it a little more fun, you might have “awards” for the person that shared the most lies, noticed a lie most people would have missed, shared the silliest lie heard (for example lying about something when the evidence to prove them wrong is in plain sight), etc. Or set a goal number of lies heard or read and see how quickly your family can find that number of lies. (Don’t forget that if your kids aren’t hearing many lies, most media that contains a mystery or other similar type plot generally contain a lot of lies.)

If your kids are older, you can have great deeper conversations on topics like “Is there such a thing as a good lie and why would God still want us to tell the truth” “How to tell the truth with love and kindness” “Truth versus opinion (It isn’t necessary to share your opinion with everyone or act like your opinion is an absolute truth.)” “What is absolute truth?”, etc.

Have fun with it, but make sure your children understand why lying is not an option as far as God is concerned.

Top Tips for Raising Kids With Servant Hearts

I was reading a parenting book by a secular author who was amazed to stumble across a home in another culture where a child saw dirty dishes in the sink and got up to wash them without being asked. As she had a secular mindset, her book then looked at all the parenting differences she thought might create children who were equally helpful. I smiled to myself a bit as I immediately recognized what had happened in that home. The parents were raising the child with the heart of a servant.

Children with the heart of a servant think about how they can help their family and friends before they think about how they want to spend their time in leisure activities. When they see someone at work or struggling in some way, they jump in to help and make the load lighter. They are the helpers and encouragers in their worlds. They are a parent’s delight – even though they still make mistakes and sin.

So how do you raise children with servant hearts? It takes more intentionality, but in the end actually can mean less work because you aren’t having to do everything yourself or nag and punish to get the help you need. It can also mean a more peaceful home as your children focus on helping each other over protecting their “rights”. It can also make your kids stronger Christians as they understand that being a servant of The King (God) means obedience and not getting their own way.

Here are some of our top tips for raising kids with servant hearts.

  1. Teach them what it means to be a servant in the biblical sense of the word. In our modern vernacular, slave is probably closer in meaning to the word often translated as servant in the Bible. Christians with servant hearts obey God’s commands – even if they don’t understand or agree with them. They understand God gets to make the rules and we get to obey them – because God knows what is best for us and by obeying Him we have the best possible life in a fallen world.
  2. Let your children see your servant heart. If they see you consistently obey God, serve others and share your faith humbly, they have a great example to follow. If they understand why you “don’t look out only for your own interests, but the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-5), they may just follow your example.
  3. Help them learn to see the needs around them – even the subtle or partially hidden ones. Raise kids who don’t have to be asked to help. Who see someone with a sad expression and ask how they can help. Who notice when someone drops all of their papers and help to pick them up without being asked. Often, like in the story of the Good Samaritan, it is easy to pretend we didn’t help because we never saw the need. Raise kids who see the need.
  4. Teach them they don’t personally have to solve every problem they see, but they should at least try to find someone who can help. If you take first aid classes, the first thing they teach you to do is to look around, point to someone and tell them to call 911. If not, a huge crowd can be standing around watching the medical problem and no one calls 911. Teach your kids how to help when they can, but it’s just as important to teach them how to quickly and efficiently get other people helping, too. If not, they may burn out trying to solve every problem by themselves.
  5. Teach them to think of others before themselves. This always gets a lot of push back in our culture. Our world believes we shouldn’t raise doormats who allow everyone to walk all over them. Or people pleasers who care about pleasing others more than taking care of their own basic needs. Thinking of others before yourself, however, is a command and not a suggestion. It should be a constant discussion of what it truly means – especially when looking at the life of Jesus. It’s not an easy command and we shouldn’t ignore it or pretend like how to live it is always obvious and easy.
  6. Help your children be encouragers. We tend to breeze right by the scriptures commanding Christians to encourage one another. The world can be a tough place. Encouragers make it a little easier to hang in there and make good choices. Raise encouragers.
  7. Teach your children to assume the best in others. I understand the importance of teaching kids how to be safe around strangers in a dangerous world. It’s a philosophy, however, that assumes the worst in others merely because some adults are dangerous to children. As they get older though, the attitude of assuming everyone is dangerous needs to be tempered a bit or they will never serve others and share their faith. It’s also important to teach them that when they feel offended by someone in some way to give that person the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the teacher had a really rough morning and was a little more curt than normal – rather than the teacher hates me. Even if the teacher dislikes your child, coming at the conversation willing to assume the best rather than the worst can make discussions a bit less heated and easier.

While it may take some time before your children jump up to help you without asking or are kind to their siblings, it’s worth taking the time and effort to raise kids with servant hearts. Those are hearts God finds it easy to work with to do His Will.

How Your Efforts to Help Your Kids Have Positive Self Esteem Can Backfire

It’s hard to be an informed parent and not have read or at least heard something about the importance of your kids having healthy self esteem. You probably know that self esteem that’s too low can hold your children back in a number of ways. Did you know, though, that if your kids have self esteem that is too high, that can become entitled and narcissistic? That while kids with low self esteem can become bullies, kids whose self esteem is too high can be just as cruel?

So what is the perfect balance? More importantly, what kind of self esteem does God want for your children? If you look at the Bible and all of the scriptures about how to view ourselves, a clear picture emerges. We are the dearly loved creation of God. God sent His son to die on the cross for our sins so that we can spend eternity with Him in Heaven. We have each been given gifts and talents by God to use in service to Him. We are to view ourselves as humble servants, putting the needs of others before our own and loving others – treating them as we would want to be treated. We are to reflect the image of God while being aware we will never be equal to God and bowing to His majesty, commands and wisdom.

Godly self esteem is balanced – recognizing how deeply we are loved and of the gifts we have been given to serve Him, while recognizing our weaknesses and sins and repenting – including trying to be more like Jesus every day.

Parents often make mistakes that throws this balance off in some way. Here are the most common traps to avoid.

  1. Refusing to recognize gifts from God in a child under the guise of encouraging humility. Gifts should be recognized and developed. The balance comes from recognizing these gifts are primarily given for us to serve God – often by serving others. They were not given merely to gain wealth and/or fame.
  2. Focusing on physical appearance. You probably are beginning to realize good looks don’t last forever. Focusing too much on appearance can create self esteem issues when your child gets a pimple, has a bad hair day or eventually ages. An occasional compliment on appearance is fine, but your kids shouldn’t think the only thing they have going for them is their good looks.
  3. Encouraging the use of secular affirmations. Please be very careful what you encourage your kids to say to themselves every day. “I am enough” and other popular affirmations may sound good on the surface, but are spiritually bankrupt at their core. Using scripture (in context) is a great way to make sure your kids are memorizing and repeating the things God wants them to know.
  4. Exaggerating or lying when giving complements. Even little kids are smarter than people often given them credit for being. They know they are not the “best artist in the world”. When you overdo it regularly in your praise, either they believe they are better at something than they actually are or they don’t trust you when they really need to believe they are loved, have talent or whatever. They will think everything you say is because “you have to say that because you are my parent”. It’s plenty just to say you love the drawing with enthusiasm, giving a hug and displaying it on the fridge…. don’t overdo it.
  5. Failing to remind them their strengths are gifts from God. They didn’t create in themselves the ability to be a phenomenal artist (or whatever). God gave them that gift. The byproducts of your children’s gifts are a result of the gift from God and the credit should go to Him. They also need to understand those gifts weren’t about them gaining fame and fortune, but using them to serve others and teach them about God.
  6. Constantly putting down others in an attempt to make your kids feel better about themselves. It’s tempting when a child you think isn’t as worthy as your child gets some accolade rather than your child. You can encourage resilience in your child without knocking down other kids in the process.
  7. Not expecting your kids to work on their weaknesses. “That’s just the way you are” – especially when describing a character weakness or sin is never acceptable. It may be really difficult for them to overcome it. They may need outside help, but you should always encourage a growth mindset – God does.
  8. Using negative “you are” statements when you are angry with them. Telling children “You are bad”, “You are stupid”, etc. can cause them to begin to actually define themselves with those words. Children make bad choices. Telling them they are bad may lead them to think it is impossible for them to make better choices or that it is hopeless even when they do because everyone will always think of them as a bad person.
  9. Allowing your kids to think of themselves as the best – even if they are better than everyone else they know at something. Nobody is the best at everything. The better your kids are at something, the more you need to work with them at sharing their gift, encouraging them to help others trying to become better at it and humbly realizing it is a gift from God that should be used to serve Him in some way. It also can help to remind them that they can’t be the best at everything – even if they are better than the average person at most things. Humility is crucial for living the Christian life. Besides, it’s also important to let them know it’s okay to let others see they really stink at a sport or singing or whatever – it makes them approachable.

Go ahead and help your kids have a healthy self esteem. Just make sure it’s balanced and godly.