Fun Way to Teach Kids to Make Godly Choices

Life is about decisions. Make godly choices and you will have fewer negative consequences that result. Make poor choices and you may spend the rest of your life dealing with the negative consequences. It’s not a perfect system, because we live in a Fallen world. Regardless of how accurately the consequences are given on earth, however, we know God will judge fairly in the end.

The problem is that kids and teens are rarely taught any tools for making good choices. What results is a lot of trial and error. Kids who are attentive, detail oriented and learn from the mistakes of others will often make good choices more consistently. As a result, we think it is some skill set with which we are born and either use or don’t use.

Instead of relying on your kids to self educate on making godly choices, why not give them a few tools to use? We have a free printable parenting guide on the Teach One Reach One Ministries website, but there are several other tools you can give your kids.

One is the decision flow chart. It can be a lot of fun to teach and learn. It’s probably best to start with an example that’s fairly simple and straight forward. Grab some paper and writing instruments and show your kids the example.

Let’s say the choice is whether or not to cheat on a test. Write down the question “Should I cheat on this test?”. Then draw two diverging arrows from the question. On one arrow write “yes” and on the other write “no”. This is a great example, because it illustrates how only thinking out one step can lead to making a huge mistake. This is because the first results are actual deceptive. If your child cheats, he or she will get a good grade and if he or she doesn’t, they may fail.

Then ask them what could happen next. From this point forward, you may have multiple arrows from each option. For example, if they fail the test, they may have additional negative consequences, but they could also get extra help from the teacher or you might hire a tutor to help them.

As the adult, you will need to guide the flow chart at first. They may not have the life experience to realize cheating is lying and they might begin lying to everyone or lose the trust of others because they lied. They may not realize that while extra help and tutoring sound boring, mastering the content is crucial for where they want to go in life.

You can give them more practice using Bible stories. What if the person in the story had made the opposite choice? How might things have changed? There is actually a entire genre of literature based on people in secular history making the opposite choices and what might have happened.

Whenever your child is faced with a decision and time allows, employ this flow chart method. It isn’t perfect, because we live in a fallen world, but your life experience has probably taught you there are definite patterns.

If your child points out times when things didn’t go as expected on the flow chart, talk about it. Explain what happened when sin entered God’s perfect world and disrupted it. Discuss God’s plan of redemption. Remind them of the importance of obeying God, even if Satan gives us negative consequences in the moment for our obedience to God.

Teaching your kids to make good choices takes time and effort. It’s worth it though to help your kids avoid unnecessary negative consequences from using the trial and error method.

Teaching Your Kids to Fail Well

Failure is an odd topic in our culture. There are people who believe children shouldn’t experience failure, because it could somehow damage their fragile psyches. Others celebrate failure as something that makes us more approachable and even fun, looking down on those who want to learn, grow and improve from their failures.

As with many topics, God has some things He wants us to teach our kids about failure. Perhaps the first is the definition of failure. God doesn’t define success or failure by how much money your kids eventually make or how famous they become. To God success is living a life that ends with spending eternity in Heaven with Him.

While there is nothing inherently wrong with worldly success obtained in godly ways, your kids need to be taught their ultimate goal. Their standard of success is Heaven and the only real failure is rejecting God.

But what about all of those little failures in life that don’t necessarily have Heaven or Hell consequences? It’s important to teach your kids the difference between mistakes and sins. They have different motivations and different consequences. They also have some differences in how they need to be handled when each of those failures happens.

Mistakes are those little failures that have no connection to the commands God has given us. They may reveal a character flaw that needs additional work, but the motivation behind the original action was not a rebellion against God’s laws.

These mistakes happen regularly as children learn and grow. At times, you need to allow these mistakes to happen – and the natural consequences of those mistakes. Those natural consequences are often the best teacher. If your child doesn’t study enough for a test and misses answers, the consequence of a poor grade should provide the motivation for studying more the next time. There will be times when you will have to help your child make the connections between actions, failures, consequences and how to keep them from happening again in the future.

Other mistakes can arise from the clumsiness that often comes with a growth spurt or a lack of life experience. If no one has ever taught you to separate reds from whites when doing laundry, then the resulting pink clothes are a mistake from a lack of life experience.

Obviously, there are times when these mistakes require apologies, cleaning up the mess they created or making some sort of restitution. In general though, mistakes should be discussed with loving patience. Too much harsh criticism can make your kids so afraid of failure, they may be unwilling to do the good works God has planned for them. Like Moses, they will become paralyzed by their fear of failure – without the benefit of hearing God’s voice to help them work through those fears.

Finally, there are the mistakes your kids will make when they are trying something new. It may be learning a new concept in math or developing the gifts God has given them. They may make mistakes the first time they try to serve someone independently or share their faith. It is so crucial with these mistakes, that your response is encouraging. They need to learn to embrace these mistakes and learn and improve from them. If they stop trying because they are fearful of failure, it is highly unlikely they will ever reach their godly potential.

Sins on the other hand, come from a rebellious heart. Even though children before the age of accountability are not responsible for sins, they need to be taught that rebellion against God is unacceptable. Of course, this begins with rebelling against your authority by disobeying your rules. These failures are heart issues at their core – a selfishness that puts one’s own desires ahead of obedience and respect.

Heart issues are tough, but if dealt with at young ages you can help mold your kids hearts towards God. These failures must be discouraged and the heart molded away from selfish rebellion or your kids will have great difficulty obeying God as adults.

If your kids are old enough to become Christians, then it’s time to really focus on repentance and forgiveness. It’s important they understand repentance is not a kicking the dirt, glum, “sorry” to God. It is truly mourning the sin, asking God for forgiveness, thinking of ways to avoid committing the sin again and making any necessary restitution.

Failure is a complex subject, but taking the time and effort to help your kids understand it through God’s eyes can make them more resilient, more likely to use their gifts to serve God and share their faith and less likely to live a life enmeshed in sin. It’s worth every second you put in to helping your kids navigate failure in godly ways.

7 Key Components of Your Child’s Faith Foundation

As a Christian parent, you want your kids to have strong faith foundations. That strong foundation can help them avoid temptation and grow to become faithful, productive Christians. Yet many children raised in “good” Christian homes have faith foundations so weak, they crumble at the first stressor.

Part of the problem is we don’t have enough discussions about the specifics of what kids need to build a strong faith foundation. As a result, many parents are left to guess what their kids need or praying the church is providing their kids with everything they will need spiritually.

No matter how great the children’s and youth ministries are at your church, they just don’t have enough time with your children to give them everything they need spiritually. Even if your kids are enrolled in a Christian school, they won’t get everything they need. There are rare exceptions, but strong faith foundations are usually the result of a lot of intentionality from the child’s Christian parents. (Studies are showing young people need about 14 hours of spiritual content from active teaching, independent study and conversations and experiences every week to have a strong spiritual foundation.)

So, what exactly are the things your child needs you to help them with so their faith foundation will be strong?

  • Bible knowledge. There are over two hundred Bible stories and thousands of verses outside of the context of a story. Your kids need exposure to all of this content – either through active teaching or independent Bible study. Churches will give your kids exposure to about ten to twenty percent of that content. Your kids will need your help learning the rest. If your kids are exposed to very little Bible content, they are trying to live life without having read God’s instruction manual. Your kids will struggle to live the life God wants them to live if they have no idea what it is or how to do it.
  • Application principles. Application principles are taking a Bible story, figuring out the lessons God wants them to learn from the story and how to apply those principles to their daily lives. Without this piece, Bible stories are just interesting stories with no real value (in your child’s mind). Your children need your help learning how to understand what they read in the Bible and how it should impact their daily lives. They will need help molding their character, words, actions and ultimately hearts to be the Christian God wants them to be. You can teach them how to find the principles independently, but they will still need your help and encouragement in applying them to their daily lives.
  • Christian life skills. Many of God’s commands and application principles have skill sets attached to them. These skills must be taught to your kids in order for them to more easily obey God. Christian life skill training should include things like godly conflict resolution and stewardship skills like budgeting and giving, amongst others.
  • Gift discovery, development and use. God has given each of your kids at least one gift to use to serve Him by completing the good works God has planned for your child. Your kids may have different gifts, the same ones or a mixture of overlapping and unique gifts. They will need your help discovering, developing and learning how to use their gifts to serve God. For some children, this will come easily, while others will struggle for some time just identifying their gifts.
  • Critical thinking skills. While this overlaps other areas we have already discussed, we are beginning to separate it out because it is an area often neglected in a child’s spiritual education. Critical thinking skills are used when your kids think more deeply about what God has to say. It involves reflecting on scripture, but also apologetics – knowing how to defend their faith to skeptics and how to share their faith with seekers. It also involves analyzing more critically the faith challenges they will experience in the world and clearly seeing the logical fallacies or weaknesses in arguments against God that sound as if they contain sound logic and wisdom.
  • Servant leadership skills. Your kids may not grow up to be official church leaders, but they should have the servant leadership skills that will help them lead others to God. They need to learn how to effectively serve others and share their faith. Many also need to learn how to lead others with a servant heart and not the secular leadership model that is often toxic, because they will hold leadership positions in their church, company or community now and/or in the future.
  • Hospitality. This is another area we are beginning to separate from the others because of its vast importance. The Bible is full of examples of people being hospitable to others. In fact, God commands His people to show hospitality. Not surprisingly, studies are showing hospitality is a key component in the Christian homes who raise kids to be faithful, productive Christians.

Are you overwhelmed yet? Don’t give up! We have so many free tools to help you. We have daily challenges to encourage you. Providing your kids with the things on thIs list is the very best way to help them get to Heaven. It will take lots of intentionality and hard work, but it needs to be your top priority. It is the most important gift you can give your kids.

Fun Ways to Connect the Bible to Elementary Academic Skills (For Parents, Tutors and Teachers)

Whether you’re homeschooling, helping your child review academic skills over the summer or tutoring in a faith based academic program, there are ways you can meaningfully connect Bible stories to academic skill practice. Often this is attempted by telling a Bible story and transitioning to a random academic skills activity. Instead, what if you could tie the skills to Bible stories in meaningful ways?

Teach One Reach One Ministries is trying to make that easier for you! We have hundreds of free academic skill activities with meaningful ties to Bible stories on our website. We are adding more constantly. Our goal is to have activity ideas for more than two hundred Bible stories in the following academic subject areas:

  • Basic elementary language arts
  • Intermediate/advanced elementary language arts
  • Basic elementary math
  • Intermediate/advanced elementary math
  • Science
  • Health and hygiene
  • ESL (While designed for teaching English as a second language, the activities could also be used to teach other languages.)
  • Bible
  • Application principles
  • Sustenance and survival
  • Service projects

The activities on our website are sorted by subject area and by Bible story. Although we already have hundreds of ideas online, we are constantly adding new ones. Our activities are designed to be hands on, experiential, meaningful and memorable. Developed by professional educators, the activities are designed to engage children in learning the Bible as well as important foundational academic skills. Although originally designed to be done with a group of students, our website has instructions on how to adapt activities to make them work well with only one or two children.

If you are working with children on academic skills, why not take a little extra time and effort and help them learn more of God’s words at the same time? We can help you with the planning aspect, so all you will need to do is gather the materials and teach!

Teaching Your Kids About Priorities and Time Management

Priorities and time management are important for any young person to learn. They take on an added dimension though for children being raised in Christian homes. Without properly aligned priorities and great time management skills, it is easy for the things Christians need to do to be strong spiritually and to do the good works God has prepared for them to get lost in the shuffle.

So what are some good ways to help your kids establish good habits in prioritizing their lives and managing their time?

  • Examine the ministry of Jesus. Jesus accomplished a lot during his relatively short ministry on earth. He was able to do that because he had his priorities straight and managed his time well. Point out how Jesus didn’t try to make a lot of money because that would have distracted from his ministry. He didn’t waste his time trying to convert Caesar, but focused most of his teaching time on people who wanted to learn what he had to teach them. He also didn’t work non-stop, but took time out regularly to rest and connect with God.
  • Constantly reevaluate schedules. Part of the problem with setting priorities and time management is that we rarely analyze what is on our plate. We just keep piling new things on without considering the wisdom or practicality of it. We don’t regularly look at our schedules and see what priorities may need to be shifted or if some things need to be removed our added to our days. Teach your kids how to do this. Schedule a regular time when your family gets together and looks at individual and family commitments and decides on any needed changes.
  • Have them help plan vacations and outings. There are always plenty of options for ways to spend time on a vacation or outing. What are the best ways to spend that time? What will everyone enjoy and benefit from doing – even if it is just sleeping in and getting needed rest? The more you involve your kids in making these every day choices, the more practice they can get in setting healthy priorities and practicing good time management skills.
  • Practice Sabbath type rest. Good time management doesn’t mean you are working every minute of every day. Unfortunately the way most young people “rest” when they have free time doesn’t really help them restore their energy. Jesus set a great example. Real rest often requires quiet, scripture, prayer, music, exercise, creating something and of course sleep. Real rest will not come from watching a screen. Christians aren’t required to practice rest on a specific day…which means you can rest like Jesus – on any day or a little every day. It’s important that it be regular though. Don’t wait until your kids get cranky and stressed before encouraging a healthy rest. Setting aside time to rest in spiritually healthy ways as a family can help you all establish healthier habits.
  • Play games with timers. Young children struggle with the concept of time. Even older children aren’t particularly aware of how long a specific period of time lasts. Teens may struggle with estimating how long something will take to complete. Playing board games with timers can help your kids have a better concept of time and what might realistically be accomplished in a certain amount of time.
  • Run races. There are plenty of 5k races your family can run and many also have 1k distances for children. Running races and trying to improve your times is a great way to understand how little things can make a huge difference in how long it takes to complete a task. What modifications result in a faster completion time? How can those principles be applied to other things that need to be completed by a deadline?
  • Take advantage of the current mandatory homeschooling. Parents of homeschoolers will tell you one of the benefits is that their children learn how to self manage their time very well. In fact, elite universities often appreciate former homeschoolers because they are able to handle the independent schedule of a college student better than many young people who attended public or private schools. Use whatever time you have in the current homeschooling caused by the pandemic to encourage your kids to manage their own schedules. Talk about what is working and where they are struggling. If your children return to school, encourage them to manage their own schedules rather than having teachers or you micromanage it for them.

Teaching your kids how to prioritize and manage their time well takes effort on your part. It is worth it though, when they can use that time to serve God and become who He wants them to be.