Fun Family Devotional About Stewardship of Our Lives

When Christians talk about the term stewardship, it is usually in regards to money. Historically, a steward was hired by someone wealthy to help them manage their entire household. The person would be charged with improving the financial holdings through savings and income, but would also be responsible for making sure everything owned was well cared for. For example, if the wealthy man had a vineyard, a manor house and servants, the steward might be in charge of caring for all of those things.

It is crucial your children understand not just the financial aspect of stewardship God expects from His people, but also how to be good stewards over their entire lives. There is a fun ongoing devotional you can do as a family to get everyone in the habit of thinking about being good stewards over everything God has given you to steward.

Call your children together and tell or read them the parable of the minas found in Luke 19:11-27. It is a variation of the more familiar parable of the talents. It’s a little bit edgier, because it also covers those who reject Jesus entirely and their fate. I suggested this particular parable, as it is one most children never hear, but you can also do the other one if you prefer.

Explain to your children the concept of a steward. Tell them that although we may no longer refer to people as stewards, wealthy people and companies have people they hire to manage their assets. These people, just like in the parable, are held accountable for how well they do their job.

Read 1 Corinthians 4:2. Ask your children to list some of the things God has given them stewardship over. Younger children will struggle and may not be able to name anything. Some children will mention money after hearing the parable – especially if they get an allowance or earn money in some way. Rephrase the question a couple of times to see if they can think more deeply about the idea and generate a few more ideas. (What do you think God wants you to take good care of? If God came back today, what might He ask you about, like the master in the parable asked his servants?)

Help them understand stewardship goes beyond just money. God wants them to be good stewards of their health, their time, their influence, their possessions, nature, etc. As you think of new areas, write them on a sheet of paper that you can keep posted on the refrigerator or another place where everyone will see it regularly.

Ask your children to pick one area from the list you made or write each category on a slip of paper. Fold the papers and place them in a bowl, then have either someone choose a paper for the entire group or each person choose a different category.

Regardless of how you choose categories, the challenge is the same. Over the course of the next week you are to figure out what it might mean to be a good steward of that area and make efforts to improve stewardship. For younger children, you may want to discuss what it means to be a good steward in that area and together plan specific things you each want to work on that week to become better stewards in that area. Each person may have different goals depending upon the topic. For example, if the area chosen was being a better steward of my health – one person might decide to exercise more minutes a day while another decides to cut out sugary snacks.

Older children and teens might want a bit less guidance up front and more ability to explore the topic before discussing it as a family. Encourage them to do some research and think about how each of you can become better stewards in that area. Because this may mean breaking bad habits or starting new ones, this may also be a great time to talk about goals and habits.

Have fun with it, but regularly rotate areas to explore what it means to be a good steward in that aspect of life. Look at Luke 12:48 together. What does it mean ”to whom much is given, much will be required”? This topic especially needs to be explored in areas where your family or your children are particularly blessed. It can be easy to coast and give the bare minimum when there is plenty to give. A million dollar gift from a wealthy person may be less than 1% of their wealth, while a million dollar gift from someone poor would be more than they might earn in an entire lifetime. How might this also apply if your children are gifted intellectually or with various talents?

Christians are stewards of more than just money. Teach your children how to be good stewards of their lives and they may just help turn the world upside down in a good way!

5 Spiritual Benefits Your Kids Will Get From a Good Night’s Sleep

Did you know your kids are probably mildly to moderately sleep deprived? Most parents don’t know that children should get 10-12 hours of sleep a night – especially during the teen years. Most children are lucky to get eight hours of sleep and many teens are trying to get by on even less.

You are probably aware that sleep deprivation can weaken the immune system, making it easier for your children to get sick. You may also know a lack of sleep impacts their ability to learn and remember things needed during the school day. If your kids do get enough sleep, it is likely because you figured out they are better behaved when well rested! Did you know, however, that sleep deprivation can also impact their spiritual well being?

That’s right. Even with the best of intentions, your kids will struggle in multiple spiritual areas if they don’t get enough sleep. Here are five of the most common spiritual areas most negatively impacted.

  • Self control/impulse control. Obedience to you, teachers, coaches and God depends in great part on self control. Can your children deny themselves something they want or want to do when it violates God’s commands? It is much more difficult to have self control when they are exhausted. They are more likely to act on impulse rather than making well thought out godly decisions.
  • Generosity. A recent study of non-profit giving found that people are less generous when they are tired. Children often have a naturally generous spirit, but when they are tired, it can easily be replaced with a more selfish attitude.
  • Kindness. Everyone is more likely to snap at others when they are tired. In fact, the generosity study above postulated that the lack of generosity was linked to the crankiness associated with not getting enough sleep. Godly people are consistently kind to others. Kindness can be difficult for children and teens in a world where teasing and bullying are not uncommon. Your children will find it easier to be kind when they are well rested.
  • Patience. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit, meaning it isn’t a natural human trait. You know yourself how impatient you become when tired. Your children will struggle as well – perhaps even more so to be patient when exhausted.
  • Perseverance. Living the successful Christian life requires a lot of perseverance. Even on good days, it can be tempting to give up trying to be who God wants us to be. When your children are sleep deprived, they are even more likely to give up on trying to be godly.

Your children will fight spending more time sleeping at night. You will probably need to remove all distractions from their bedrooms. They may not admit that after a few weeks of more sleep, life seems a little bit easier and better. But it will be. In fact, you are probably sleep deprived, too. Getting more sleep might just be what everyone in your family needs.

These Questions Could Help Your Kids Make Better Choices

One of the goals of parenting should be to teach your children how to make better choices. For Christian parents, the challenge is a little more difficult. We need to teach our children how to make choices that are pleasing to God – regardless of whether or not those choices please those enmeshed in the culture around us.

For children with little life experience and often little Bible knowledge, learning to make good choices can be extremely challenging – especially if a choice that appears to have a positive outcome now could actually lead to a negative outcome in the future. The ability to think out beyond the current consequences to potential consequences in the near and distant future is a skill set that must be taught and practiced – preferably with parental guidance.

The first challenge is to teach your children how to act rather than react. To pause, think, pray – perhaps even ask for advice – before saying or doing anything when there is a choice to be made. For some children, it will take time and effort to help them understand they always have a choice about what they will say or do – even if the choice doesn’t offer any pleasant options (which to many children makes them believe there was never really a choice at all).

The next challenge is to get them to analyze the situation. There are two great questions to teach them to ask themselves whenever faced with a choice.

  • What choice does God want me to make in this situation?
  • What choice does Satan want me to make in this situation?

(Note: There may be more than one option in each answer.)

You may wonder why there is a need to bring Satan into the conversation at all. Because if we don’t consider Satan’s point of view, it is easier to convince ourselves that something that is ungodly is actually godly. Look at the temptation of Jesus. The things Satan was proposing didn’t sound all that bad on the surface. What was wrong with doing things that would have been within his power to do? Satan was even quoting scripture to prove his point!

Yet, Jesus knew God did not want him to use his power in those ways. God’s goals for Jesus in those tempting scenarios was very different from what Satan wanted Jesus to do. By analyzing what God wanted him to do and comparing it to what Satan was tempting him to do, the choice for Jesus was clear. Follow God’s will or do Satan’s. Satan’s way may have seemed easier at the time, but in the long run those choices would have been a disaster.

Give your children lots of examples from the Bible. Help them practice with real life scenarios and then as they have choices to make in their own lives. Make it a habit and they may just find it easier to make godly choices.

Teaching Your Kids Godly Ways to Self Soothe

What do your kids do when they are upset? Do they depend upon you to soothe them – even though they are old enough to try some things on their own? Or are they engaging in self harming behaviors like drugs and alcohol to help them “forget” what is upsetting them for a short time?

Unfortunately, the average young person hasn’t been taught resiliency skills like self soothing. So when upset, they will often default to behaviors suggested by peers which can actually make matters worse instead of better. The solution? Start teaching them godly ways to self soothe when they are very young and encourage them to practice them whenever they come to you upset. (Not in place of your nurturing, but in addition to it.) Then when they are older and it isn’t always convenient to come to you for comfort, they will already have several helpful strategies that don’t add to their troubles.

So what are some strategies to teach them? There are plenty, but here are a few of our favorites.

  • Deep slow breaths. Stress and anxiety tend to make us breathe more rapidly, which in turn quickens our heart rate – adding to the feelings of anxiety. Slow down the breathing, the heart rate will also slow and the anxiety will often ease.
  • Praying. Teach your kids to imagine God is sitting right across from them listening as they tell him what is bothering them in prayer. Encourage them to ask God to help calm them.
  • Reading and memorizing comforting scriptures like many of the Psalms. Many Psalms were written by David and others when they were feeling strong emotions. If your kids are feeling similar emotions, the Psalm can soothe them. Attempting to memorize scripture is also distracting and takes the brain our of the flight or fight mode for many.
  • Teddy bears. There is something comforting about stuffed animals and dolls. Even teens often keep stuffed animals around as “decorations”, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a few are hugged in stress.
  • Exercising. Depending on the circumstances either vigorous exercise or calming exercises like stretching can prove soothing. Some may find combining the two types helps them the most.
  • Playing with animals. This is so helpful many schools, hospitals and universities bring in animals for young people to play with during stressful times.
  • Math. Believe it or not, math uses a different part of the brain and can be calming. Of course, this may not work as well if what is stressing you to begin with is math class!
  • Crying. While constant crying is not the best long term strategy, sometimes a good cry will release all of those pent up negative feelings.
  • A good night’s sleep. It really is true that some things seem better in the morning. Often heightened emotions and a lack of sleep make things appear even worse that they are.
  • Laughing, playing games, having “good, clean fun”. Sometimes distraction eases the stress – even if just for a bit. It also keeps the brain from getting stuck in a negative thought pattern that can get harder and harder to shift back to a positive one.
  • Talking to a trusted adult about what is bothering them. Sometimes the conversations we have with ourselves in our head when we are stressed can make things worse. An objective, mature, Christian can point out some potential weaknesses in our thought process and help us calm down. Your children may have friends who can also do this, but teach them to avoid sharing with people who end up adding to their stress or suggesting negative coping strategies.
  • Music. King Saul was on to something when he had David play the lyre to soothe him. Music can impact our emotions. Encourage your children to listen to music that calms them. Have them experiment with different genres and artists to find the songs that help when they are stressed. Playing an instrument can also help.
  • Arts and crafts. Arts and crafts help us express emotions while the movements needed to create something can also help soothe. Even providing something as simple as plain white paper and crayons can help.

Giving your kids lots of acceptable options to use to ease stress can help avoid using techniques that may do more harm than good. It’s worth taking the time and effort to help them master the various methods.

Anger Management Strategies for Parents and Kids

Anger is an interesting emotion. God created us with the ability to get angry. The Bible tells us God himself gets angry. Jesus overturned the tables in the Temple because of righteous anger. On the other hand, the Bible also teaches us to not sin in our anger. As we learn from several stories in the Bible, anger can easily lead to violence, revenge, hatred, destruction and other sinful attitudes and actions.

The trick to avoiding sin while angry is to learn how to manage or control our anger. To turn furious into mildly annoyed. To calm ourselves to the point where we can think clearly. To uncover and deal with the root issue and not the surface problem. To put aside our anger at the disobedience of our children and give correction and consequences that are appropriate instead of abusing them in some way.

In today’s world, many adults need anger management as much as (or perhaps even more) than their children. Children aren’t born with anger management skills. They must learn and practice them. If they learn to manage their anger, they are also learning an import part of self control – impulse control.

There are lots of ways to calm yourself or to teach your children to use when they are angry. These are some of our favorites.

  • Take ten deep slow breaths before saying or doing anything.
  • Pray for God to help you have self control.
  • Count until you calm down. The angrier you are, the higher the number needs to be.
  • Give the level of your anger a ranking from one to five. Does what happen really justify the amount of anger you feel?
  • Identify your triggers and warning signs before your anger gets out of control and develop strategies to minimize your anger when triggered.
  • Make sure you are well rested, eat healthy foods at scheduled times and get plenty of exercise.
  • Notice what your body does as you begin to get angry (clinch jaw or fists, etc.). Use an anger management strategy as soon as you notice these signs (before you actually get really angry).
  • If you feel angry most of the time, exercise vigorously on a regular basis and seek professional help if needed.
  • Regularly do exercises that calm you like stretching.
  • Squeeze a stress ball.
  • Take a walk in nature.
  • Read or watch something that makes you laugh.
  • Make something.
  • Listen to calming music.
  • Talk to someone trusted about your feelings.
  • Play with a pet.
  • Journal about your feelings.
  • Learn to STOP before saying or doing anything. Stop. Think about what actually made you angry. List all of your options for responding. Pray to God to help you choose the appropriate option.

You and your children will benefit from learning how to manage your anger in godly ways. It will take time and energy, but it is worth it.