Our spiritual life is made up of several individual skills or disciplines. Do your kids or the kids you teach in church participate in sports? Or do they have a favorite athletic activity? If so, you have an opportunity to use it as an illustration to help kids understand spiritual health.
Athletes want every possible advantage in order to do well. My kids are always trying to come up with the best protein shake or recovery drink, the best exercise to improve that weak muscle, and the best technique to master a particular skill. Great attention to even small details can make all the difference.
In this current series, we’re looking areas of diet, exercise, skills and rest one at a time to think about how to use them as illustrations for kids to grow spiritually. So far, we looked at diet and how our spirit needs feeding as much as our body does. Then we looked at spiritual exercise where faith grows stronger with daily “reps” or repetitions of applied truth.
Today, we’re looking at athletic skills. Have your kids thrown thousands of baseballs or dribbled a soccer ball for hundreds of hours? Do they do extreme stuff like hang from their fingers to improve climbing skills? Ask your kids to list the athletic skills they want to master. Each of those skills could be called a separate discipline. All those skills put together make for an excellent athlete in his or her chosen sport.
Our spiritual life is also made up of several individual skills or disciplines. Four important skills or spiritual disciplines for kids involve Scripture, worship, prayer and giving. The Bible commands us to practice each of them diligently. Do we practice them to earn God’s favor? If yes, that’s a wrong motivation. The right motivation is to do them for our own good, and to mature in our spiritual life. God loves to see us do well and prosper, so it does have the effect of pleasing Him too.
Let’s start with the skill of handling Scripture. Although it might seem like hard work, the benefits from learning, meditating on truth, and hiding God’s Word in our hearts pay off like a gold medal. Childhood is the best time to memorize Scripture because it comes easily and will last a lifetime. In our family, we chose a passage that would fill two white boards and hung them in the kitchen. We said the passage together every morning and evening at meal times and memorized one verse a day. By the time we learned the last verse, the repetition of the rest of the passage had us well on our way to having the whole passage memorized.
Another important skill to practice with your kids is worship. Worship gives life perspective as we meditate on the attributes of God, especially his power and sovereignty. Music is a tremendous help to worship and can be used in the background of your home rather than TV. A great source for children’s worship music is the YouTube channel Unite Kids. Just go to YouTube and then search for Unite Kids. Also teach worship in spontaneous prayer and praise. Worship improves gratitude which leads to contentment.
Our third spiritually athletic skill is prayer. Encourage your kids to pray out loud in private as well as with your family, so they can become comfortable with expressing their hearts to God. To express one’s heart means we have to be able to identify our emotions and verbalize them in conjunction with honest thoughts. The Psalms is a great model.
Today’s last spiritual skill to practice with the same fervency as an athletic skill is giving. Before your kids leave home, they need to practice stewardship with their time and money. Practiced giving helps them give more easily, as they learn for themselves that we can’t outgive God.
These disciplines of the Christian life can be reinforced with devotional books from CEFPress.com. Every Day with God is for younger children and the Wonder Devotionals are for older children. See an assortment of devotional options at CEFPress.com.
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