Before Jeff and I had children, we knew (we thought we knew) exactly how we should raise our children. We were that young couple in the store that would observe other children and whisper to one another, “when we have kids we will never allow them to do that!” We had visions of sitting together in restaurants with perfectly tamed children without electronics and we imagined our children quietly and peacefully sitting in the pews during worship and the sermon on Sunday mornings.
But if there’s anything I’ve learned about parenting, it’s that children are unscripted.
So when it comes to raising little disciples, it doesn’t always pan out in the ways Jeff and I had gloriously envisioned so many years ago. In fact, just this morning my kid was the one rolling around on the floor during worship while the other one decided that during the sermon was the best time to jump up and stand on his seat.
But tonight as I was lying next to my darling 4 year old, watching him drift off to sleep, I was overcome with gratitude for the incredible gift God has given to Jeff and me. Not only was I overcome with gratitude, I also realized the tremendous responsibility that Jeff and I have been given to teach our children to love God and love people.
Teaching 3 year old and 4 year old boys abstract biblical concepts takes some creativity. Recently, our family has come across a gem of a book that has helped us teach our children what it looks like to love God and love people in a way that relates to their everyday experiences. Sharing God’s Love is not only adorable, it also teaches children the most important command: Love God, love people. Every page is full of beautiful, colorful, and precious picture illustrations that keep my boys captivated – which is not an easy task!
This book has created a space for us to have many conversations on what it looks like to live the Jesus Creed. It has created opportunities for us to talk about grace, forgiveness, kindness, gentleness, and hospitality. More than anything, Jeff and I pray that our boys’ hearts are so pliable in the hands of our Creator, that living the Jesus Creed would permeate their everyday lives.
Several weeks ago I was meeting with my oldest son’s preschool teacher. She shared with me how she has been struck with Caleb’s compassion for other children. He is often the one to run to a child when hurt, or help another struggling child. She said, “compassion is not always something that can easily be taught, and he is incredibly compassionate and caring toward other children.”
The truth is, some days are better than others. Some days we feel like we’ve nailed this raising-little-disciples-thing and other days we are reminded just how unscripted children can be. But I’m thankful for the many tools that the people of God have given us to help us guide our little disciples in the Christian faith. One particular gem we have been thankful to include in our nightly routine is Sharing God’s Love.