I read Psalms to my boys as they pushed fire trucks around. They interrupted often, and usually, their comment wasn’t Scripture related. Instead, they were telling each other to stop touching their toys. I grew frustrated and wondered, “Does this even matter?”
I’m sure I’m not alone in this thought. We want to talk to our children about Jesus, but while we do, we referee sibling squabbles and answer a question or two about Transformers. I laugh at how quickly conversations with my boys transition from Jesus to superheroes. Being intentional with our children about the gospel is hard work, and we don’t always see immediate fruit from that labor. It seems our words float into thin air, and we wonder if our kids even hear anything we’re saying.
My oldest is 5, so I don’t have much “proof” of this, but with unwavering confidence, I say YES, mamas, what we’re doing matters. Satan wants us to think it doesn’t. He’s the one in our heads telling us the work is too hard and the fruit isn’t there. Raising up our children to be followers of Christ is the last thing he wants us to do, so of course, he tempts us with these lies!
In Deuteronomy 6, God commands us to disciple our children. He tells us to diligently teach his commands to them as we sit, walk, and rise. If God commands it, it must matter. God created our children; therefore, he knows their inmost being. God isn’t surprised by the quarrels or random questions that pop up during our Jesus conversations. He knows their sin nature and their interests! God commands us to teach our children his Word, but he never said it has to be done in a perfectly calm environment with children who always sit still. God knows my boys love Hot Wheels, so he isn’t surprised when they ask me about those as I read his Word. He knows my boys sin and struggle with selfishness, so he isn’t surprised when these issues arise. We can’t allow imperfections, struggles, and interruptions to stop us from discipling our kids. If we embrace these as excuses, discipleship will never happen. Instead, embrace discipleship moments in the midst of the struggles.
Satan tempts us to think these every day gospel conversations with our children don’t matter because the truth is, our kids might not listen 100% of the time. After reading the story of Joseph, all they might be able to tell us is he had a colorful coat. Some days, they might not be able to tell us anything. However, I trust Jesus to be faithful and that these small details they’re getting overtime will be used to do a work in their heart.
I believe our kids listen and watch us, even when we think they’re not. I also believe each Jesus conversation, each Bible story read, or each praise song sung makes a deposit in their hearts that will yield eternal benefits for the Kingdom. Each Jesus conversation teaches our children talking about Jesus is good and normal in our homes. This is exactly the desire my husband and I have. We have many big things facing us as our children get older- dating, conflict, and life choices. We want to talk about those hard things with our children through a Gospel lens, so we believe we’re starting the groundwork for that now. We try to talk about the Gospel daily, and apply it to sharing, being kind, and forgiving. We don’t want our children to think it’s weird when all of the sudden it’s time to talk about “big” life choices and we want to speak of Jesus. I also believe each Bible story read teaches our children we value God’s Word and it’s of utmost importance in our life. Each praise song sung teaches them how to genuinely worship in Spirit and in truth, and we can praise God in the car or our homes, not just in worship services. Each act done for the Kingdom, it matters, dear friend.
From personal experience, God is blessing us with some fruit in our boys’ lives. We aren’t perfect at this, but we do try to be intentional with our boys about these Jesus conversations. We use meal times to do catechisms or attributes of God flashcards from Tiny Theologians. I think mealtimes are a great time to have intentional discipleship, because everyone is already (somewhat) sitting in the same place! Reading time before nap is often another time I like to incorporate Jesus, whether that be from my Bible, theirs, or another Gospel resource. It can seem like they’re not listening in those moments, but friends, I’m so surprised at what they’re soaking up. These intentional moments lead to more random moments of conversation where they’ll ask a question or bring something up we had talked about previously.
Friends, keep pressing on. Kingdom work doesn’t always bear immediate fruit, but I promise it’s bearing eternal fruit. Trust God is at work and knows the big picture, even when our efforts seem fruitless. Keep doing the hard work of discipling your kids, even when it feels worthless. There are days you’ll spend more time asking them to sit down than actually talking about Jesus, but we never know the day they’ll grasp the gospel. Truthfully, I get so excited when I look around and see so many other Jesus-loving friends discipling their children for the glory of God! I believe by God’s grace, we’re raising world-changers that’ll do great things for the Kingdom! Praise God!