6 Ways to Spiritually Prepare Your Kids for the School Year
I like back-to-school because it means I can buy journals and writing utensils for cheap! My wife and I aren’t quite to the stage of life of having to worry about school supply lists or forcing our kids to complete summer reading, but that doesn’t mean we don’t take advantage of the sales on paper and pens. But this year it hit me, parents spend more time preparing their kids’ backpacks than they do in preparing their kids’ hearts. So here are six ways to spiritually prepare your kids for the new school year.
1. Put together a devotion plan for the year. As Drs. Dobson and Meeker have talked about for years, parents are to be the primary influence on their child’s faith. Your kids are going to experience a lot of different ideas at school, and parents need to be proactively influencing the spiritual conversations that their kids are having. The best way to do this is by consistently and intentionally leading your kids in family devotions. Now if I’m completely honest, I didn’t like family devotions when I was a kid. But that doesn’t change the fact that they were both important, and made a positive impact on my life. So put together a plan. Stick to the plan. And have consistent and intentional family devotions with your children.
2. Talk daily with your kids about what happened at school. Look at these conversations as a way to not only stay updated with your child’s life, but also to influence them in how to respond to the different situations they encounter. These don’t have to be long conversations, but you need to ask good questions, and you can’t let your kids get away with easy answers like “fine” or “good.” Now if your children are older, they may feel like you’re being too nosy at first, but that’s okay. The key here is consistency. And remember, the quality of your child’s answers will come from the quality of your questions.
3. Pray for your kids every day, throughout the day. What if you put together a list of the most important things you could pray for concerning your child? What would be included on the list? I want to encourage you to create that list and pray every day for your son or daughter. Prayer is powerful and it works. It’s the best way to protect your children when you’re not there to see what they’re up to. Here’s my daily prayer for my kids:
“God, please help ____________ (my son) to never doubt how much you love him and how much we (his mom and I) love him. I pray that he would become a man of integrity and character – a man who honors women, protects the weak, loves you and serves others. I pray that he would love you with all of his heart, soul, mind and strength, and that you would protect his heart, soul, mind and strength. I pray that the day of salvation for ________ will come quickly. That you will do a work in his heart and his mind that he will be able to surrender his life to you, follow after you, love you and never look back. I pray the same things for his future wife, his children, and his children’s children. May they be a family who follows after you all the days of their lives.”
If your kids are a little older than mine, you may want to add things like:
“I pray that you will surround them with good influences and friends that will encourage and inspire them to love and follow Jesus.”
“I pray that they will work hard and get good grades to set them up for a successful future.”
“I pray that they would fail their driver’s test so that I don’t have to ride with them in the car.” (Just kidding, you shouldn’t pray this)
4. Spend quality time together. Don’t let sports, school activities, and even church activities get in the way of spending quality time together as a family. The best way for you to spiritually encourage your children is to focus on building strong relationships with your kids. And just so you know, you will need a plan! If you don’t have a plan, distractions, events, and activities will pile up and take away your opportunities to spend time with your children.
5. Go to church. It’s amazing how easy it is to skip out on church when life is busy! During the school year, life is crazy busy! But by making church a priority, you are not only influencing your child for the 2015-16 school year, but are also teaching your kids that later in life – when they are working a job, raising a family, and managing an insane schedule – that God and church are important.
6. Don’t give in to consumerism; instead, teach your kids about stewardship and contentment. It seems like our culture has made “Back-to-School” also mean “spend ridiculous amounts of money on new clothes, shoes, and sports equipment.” But before you hit the 20% off savings at the mall, consider what lessons you’re modeling to your kids. Do they really need a new pair of jeans or shoes? Do they need a new backpack? Sometimes the answer is “yes,” but oftentimes we spend WAY more money than we need to on stuff that we don’t need. By buying your kids ‘all things new,’ you are teaching them to be discontent with what they have. Instead, only buy the necessities and teach your kids how to be good stewards of what they have been blessed with.
Don’t get sucked into the spending all of your time and energy preparing your child’s backpack for the new school year. Instead, spend the majority of your effort on intentionally preparing your child’s heart for 2015-16. After all, you’re most important job as a parent isn’t to get them a new pair of shoes for the first day of school, it’s to introduce and model to your kids what it looks like to love and follow Jesus.