By Shela Ervin
The world is messy, and it’s our job to introduce our children to it.
The task is no small thing, interpreting and explaining the actions of people and movement of society. We are building categories and drawing lines in the sand between right and wrong. We are training them to acknowledge God’s authority and developing muscles to discern truth from half-truths masquerading as whole truths (or truths used as hooks to sink into lies, for that matter).
This job is not optional, because if we don’t take care to set God-fearing worldview lenses before their eyes, the world will give them godless ones. Undoubtedly, unapologetically, and without hesitation. The earth is raging with competing authorities, worldviews, and ultimate goods. But this is God’s world, and he alone holds the key. The whole earth is accountable to him.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” – Proverbs 1:7
How does a child learn to fear the Lord in a world that is raging against him?
He searches the terrain set before him with the boundaries drawn by your teaching. As he experiences a phenomenon in nature, an exchange with a bitter person, and even the struggle in his own heart to do what is right, he is making sense of it continually. Your words draw the contours, and he seeks to confirm that his experience and the laws you’ve introduced do in fact agree.
So use your words to set God before their eyes.
He is the author of all things, from the turn of history to the scales on a lizard’s back. He rules now and always, the King eternal of a Kingdom eternal. He is the just and the justifier.
Thankfully, the task is made not for professionals, but for parents. As you go to bed and rise, in and out of your home, to and fro, talk about everything you see and experience together. It is a simple and ordained means for training and forming the little soul entrusted to your care.
Practical encouragements as you go on talking about everything:
- Start by considering the seemingly small stuff (e.g., observations of apparent phenomena in nature) that give feet to God’s creating and ruling wisdom in our world.
- Resist the temptation to withhold categories of reality from them. We should protect our little ones from the most egregious realities, but we shouldn’t paint a picture of a world without sin or rebellion against God.
- Explain concepts at the level of specificity that is fitting for them. There is a way to tell the truth without such specificity that might deter them from grasping the idea.
- As you live in a darkened world as a pilgrim headed for a better country, talk explicitly about how you choose to live, and why you devote the time and energy to the things that you do.
- Talk about the church. Show them how to love the church despite her many flaws. Never let them forget that Christ died for her.
- Talk about joy! Don’t forget to rejoice out loud in the hope of Christ, and often. It is we, who of all people, ought to rejoice always. Make sure they not only see it, but hear it from your lips.
Everything is from Him, and through Him, and to Him. It is God’s world that we live in. It is our job to introduce our children to it.
Shela is a happy helpmate to her husband in gospel ministry, mom to two young ones, and creates goods & resources with hopes to strengthen Kingdom families into Christ until he comes.