One morning when our kids were young we settled down to our family devotions and the topic was “being a peacemaker”. Josh asked if he could share a verse that he had read earlier in the morning. Immediately I knew that it was the verse for us to study and ponder for that morning instead of going ahead with the book we were working through. It was such an encouraging time – not only was the Word of God quickened to our hearts but our son was hearing from God and applying the Word to his life and being brave enough to share it with others.
It does take courage to speak from your heart. I know this because for many years God has gently encouraged me to teach my children from my heart.
So often when we sit down to teach our kids we have our nose in a book – we are delivering the lesson written in a book and we deliver the lesson, day after day because that is what we planned.
When we teach what is on our heart, we teach out of relationship. We teach out of our relationship with God and we teach out of our relationship with our children. Both these aspects will affect the words, tone, application, of what we have to say – and to be honest – it will be received differently too. There is no joy in just delivering information – I wanted the times we came to read the Bible together to be life changing.
God’s Word in your Heart
I’m reminded of the scripture Deut 6:4-7… it starts by saying “these words that I command you this day shall be upon your heart, and you shall teach them diligently to your children.”
There are two challenges in this verse alone:
- Are God’s words on my heart
- Am I teaching them diligently to my kids
Teach what is on your heart.
Of course, when God said this, he was talking about ‘his words’. What has God been teaching you? What has he been saying to you? Pass this onto your kids. Other times, I felt that my children needed to understand a particular topic, so we dug into that subject together. I was learning with them.
Lesson Plans from the Heart
When I look back on our homeschooling, the most fruitful, most alive, most significant devotions or Bible studies came when I set aside the list of ‘doctrines’ kids should know by certain ages, or I put aside the year curriculum of Bible studies and instead asked God – “What do my kids need to learn? Where do they need to grow?”
I’m not talking about having no plans – I’m not saying you wake up in the morning, and go to God, looking for ‘manna’ so to speak, fresh for the day (though that is important for our own walk with God). This isn’t how it worked for me, though I know some folk do this. But for me, it was more like a subject, a direction, a particular purpose. This one thing that is on my heart for my kids – this is what we’ll be learning for the next little while.
Over the years we did
- Long studies like Old Testament or New Testament overviews (for general knowledge)
- Short studies on topics such as prayer, fruit of the spirit, the names of God, armour of God
- One off studies – generally triggered by a question or a particular word such as love, faith, hope.
The challenge to me was to deliver a lesson that was life, that had meaning and application, not just doing the lesson from the book one day after the next. Our lessons needed to grip my beliefs, my passions, my emotions, my will, my choices. I needed to have this lesson on my heart so that I could teach my kids (diligently).
Find Resources to Match
It wasn’t that I didn’t use resources – but I didn’t use resources that boxed me in to a long study of the sameness. Now, this may be my personality, and to some degree it is, but the one thing that is on my heart to encourage you with is – teach from your heart. Know your God, know your kids, and teach what is needed. I was very aware of there being times we just had to move on. My children had grown through our studies and it was now no longer alive and relevant.
Teach what is on your heart.
With so many resources written, so many books, DVD’s, study courses for every age it is easy to feel intimidated or to feel like you are not qualified or equipped. But God has equipped you with everything you need to do the job ahead of you.
Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers (your children) in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. … Give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 1 Tim 4:12-13 (my emphasis)
Teach from your Heart to their Heart
Maybe the issue isn’t so much not to have a lesson plan in front of you – but rather for you to have learnt that lesson beforehand – not intellectually, but let the lesson from God’s word touch your heart – change you. Because the Word of God has changed your heart – you have something to pass onto your kids. This means I need to be learning, studying, growing myself.
This is what discipleship is – passing on values, one generation to the next.
I value God’s word – I value the Holy Spirit’s help and guidance – I value my relationship with Jesus.
This is what I want our Bible lessons to truly teach my kids and for them to one day rise up and say the same: that they value God’s word, the Holy Spirit’s help and guidance, and their relationship with Jesus.
Family Bible study can be tricky when we have kids at different ages and stages, but with using these 8 keys it is possible. Bonus Parent Guide included.
One of the biggest challenges to family Bible study is the different ages, and levels of understanding with each of the children but there is a way to make Bible study a family activity.
Our children need to know God’s word – to move beyond knowing the stories of the Bible. They need to know how to study it, understand it and apply it to their lives.
Do you want to be Heart Focused in all you do?
Download your set of Reminder Posters - Printable posters to put around the house to remind you to be relational, intentional and heart focused in all you do. These posters are the heart of this blog.
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