But if we take a step back to view this awesome responsibility—that is, passing on to our children the love and truth of our infinite God—we can easily get overwhelmed. How can we reflect a God like this to our kids without misrepresenting Him?
A few things I try to remind myself:
Grow your own relationship with Jesus.
Seems like a pat Sunday School answer here, but it’s easy to forget the basics. We cannot teach our kids the wonder of a relationship with Christ without experiencing it ourselves. Theology shouldn’t just be a mental exercise—it’s the study of the most important Person in our lives.
If we want them to grow, we must grow as well. We must stay in God’s Word; we must seek Him in prayer; we must fellowship with faithful, experienced Christians while also reaching out to those who need love, grace, and truth.
Nothing novel, just essential.
Depend on the Spirit.
We should feel intimidated by our responsibility, because in truth, we can’t handle it. But the Spirit can, and we can trust Him to use us.
God is strength in our weakness, the unlimited wellspring of help and grace, the One who directs our focus to Christ and enlightens our minds to understand His teaching. As we depend on God to teach us, we’ll find truth to teach our kids.
Pray like crazy.
God changes people—we can’t. We therefore must seek His help in prayer—not because we don’t trust Him to work, but because we do trust Him enough to ask.
Despite the temptation to teach like we know it all—as if we have the ability to dictate spiritual growth like we dictate clean fingernails and brushed teeth—we can only show our children truth, not force them to accept it. We must depend on the Spirit to work in their hearts, and we can show this dependence through prayer.
Our kids have a nose for hypocrisy. And it’s hard to learn from someone who doesn’t live the truths they teach. How easily could our kids connect with God if they don’t see us connecting with Him?
So be real with them. You want to teach them about overcoming adversity? Share with them some of your struggles, and show how God’s grace is helping you to trust Him anyway. Ask them to pray for you.
And as hard as it is, we must admit where we’ve failed, and repent when we need to. By doing so, we can show our kids that we have a flawed, but genuine, loving, growing relationship with our Father.
Say what the Bible says.
God stands behind His Word, and we should too. We must teach our kids to trust the Bible, for through it we can see the character and work of God.
We can only say what God has said. We depend on His wisdom, and wherever we share our own opinions with our kids, we cannot present it with absolute authority unless it comes directly from Scripture. We can damage their relationship with God if we try to take His place.
The Bible is no fragile relic. It won’t explode into dust if we ask it a question—so ask away! If we discover a mystery that doesn’t have a simple answer, we can take the opportunity to explore the Word with our children. We can admit we don’t know, and we can teach them to depend on the Word for truth, and to trust God for what we cannot understand.
We value the hard questions because in them is one of the greatest motivations to learn. We can spoon feed truth to our kids all day, but if we can get them to wonder, all they’ll need is a compass and some beef jerky to set them on a roadtrip of discovery.
So ask questions from the texts, the concepts, the stories—then dig for truth. Questions are only dangerous if you're too lazy or too proud to look for answers in the right places.
Connect truth to life.
By God’s grace, we teach hearts as well as minds. We teach the why as well as the what. So as we teach language, history, and science, we teach about the God that holds all of them in His hands, that gave us these fields of study to show us His majesty.
That majesty will undoubtedly affect how we think and act. It’s our responsibility as teachers reflect a life lived for Christ—in our homes, in our churches, and in our communities. Knowledge is as helpful as the wisdom that animates it.
Born in Chicago but raised out West in a pastor’s family, Jason Ehmann has been involved with ministry all his life. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in Bible and a master’s in Counseling, Jason has served as youth pastor, senior pastor, and now president at Positive Action. Today he helps pastors and teachers show God’s glory and grace to their students. A big fan of coffee, Jason also enjoys skiing and football, as well as art and design. He and his wife live in North Carolina with their four children.