Are You Having Conversations That Really Matter?

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.

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[b]You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  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.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 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

2 thoughts on “Are You Having Conversations That Really Matter?

  1. BINGO!! My parents parented. Sure they asked me about school, but I didn’t get off with a shrug of the shoulders. They were involved enough to ask follow-up questions. They knew my teachers and my friends. They expected to hear about my homework assignments. We brainstormed about long-term assignments. My Mom & Dad both worked, but Mom would walk in the house and start supper. While she cooked, we set the table and did other kitchen chores – then we all sat down to eat. Dad liked to watch the news during supper, but they discussed what was aired in relation to our faith and our principles. We went to church together and from the time I was tiny I was expected to sit up straight and listen to the sermon – which would be discussed on the way home. On Saturday nights I’d better have read my Sunday School lesson, have my offering envelope ready and have what I was going to wear to church laid out. Vacations were road trips and as we drove along we shared interesting conversations that touched on everything from personal hygiene to history to humor.

    Somehow, I still managed to have piano lessons and ballet lessons. I sang in the choir at church and belonged to other church organizations. I had friends in the neighborhood, but my parents saw to it that I had the most awesome backyard, so my house was the place to play – and it was also the house where you knew you were going to get the popcorn and lemonade. My parents didn’t try to be one of the kids, nor did they hang about like the gestapo, but we knew they were there and occasionally they’d do something awesome like push us in the swing or scare us while we were telling ghost stories.

    Team sports are great. Extracurricular activities are great. Even TV and video games can be great – but at some point, you’ve got to plug into the kids and be a part of their lives or the diagram above is going to be all too true.

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