What kind of conversations are the most common between adults and children? Here is a graphic that shows the types of questions asked at what ages. Interesting. As a father of young children and a full time youth worker, I simultaneously see both ends of the spectrum. I’d say in an over-generalized kind of way, it is pretty much right on.
Do you notice any blaring deficiencies? Where are the questions about God? Where are the conversations about faith? Where are the opportunities to really know why you believe what you you believe?
I am reminded of Deuteronomy 6:4-9. This is the Sh’ma (or Shema). It is the most important prayer in the Jewish faith, past and present. The word “Sh’ma” is the hebrew word for “hear” which is the opening call to action in the text.
4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[b]5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Notice the intentionality to be used when talking to our children about God, faith, and matters of first importance. This text is a vivid reminder that we should be taking advantage of every opportunity that presents itself to initiate conversations about God.
We should do this at home. This is where our kids see the “real” us. It is where our guard is down. When we are simply ourselves. Does it show in those moments, though our speech, that God is the most important thing in our lives?
We should do this when we “walk by the way”. Ok, we don’t walk much anymore. But one great time for quality conversations is what I call, “windshield time”. You can really get a teenager to open up when you are driving and both staring out the windshield. Don’t be afraid to ask some probing questions now and then. In the car you have a captive audience…but remember, its equally about listening as it is talking.
We should do this when we “lie down and when we rise”. Let it be the last thing on your lips at night and the first thing on your lips in the morning. What is “it” you say: the Glory of God and the awesomeness of Jesus Christ! Say bedtime prayers together. Small habits like that have big influences on kids. On the morning side, a memory that will forever be burned in my mind is dragging myself out of bed everyday as a rebellious teenager only to see my mom reading her bible at the breakfast table. She never force that on me, but her example spoke volumes. Now as an adult, looking back on those years I thank God for her faithfulness and see its influence in my own life.
So what kind of conversations are we initiating with the children in our lives? Both our biological children and any of those whom we have influence over. Maybe you are a small group leader, a soccer coach, the minivan mom who gives rides to every kid in the neighborhood. How are you using your words to push the next generation closer to an authentic relationship with the God of the universe? I pray you will “hear” the call to do just that!
Your fellow worker in the field, Adam