How do I help my kids to understand that the teachings of the Bible lead to their happiness, not their misery? There are four points it can be helpful to make:
First of all, we can help our kids understand that it was God who created fun and that He wants our ultimate happiness.
Let’s acknowledge that the good stuff in life comes from God. Psalm 103:5 says we should praise the Lord “who satisfies your desires with good things.”
But we should also willing be able to share with our kids that God doesn’t just want you to have short-term fun. It’s much bigger than fun right now. Fun is included in it, but God has the end goal in mind. He wants to truly satisfy us; in fact, He wants to satisfy us for eternity. It’s important to remember that we don’t get happiness by aiming at it. Rather, we get happiness by seeking God and pursuing and loving Him.
Secondly, we can help our kids think through the consequences of their actions.
Helping them look at consequences is a great way to show that the Bible’s teachings really do lead to their happiness. Let’s say your kid wants to go to that party tomorrow night at a friend’s house with no supervision. Will it be fun? Well, let’s talk about that. Let’s talk through what will be fun and what will actually end up leading to things that, in the end, won’t be fun at all.
Young people tend to think only about right now. So, let’s have conversations that help them think long-term. Such conversations will help them take seriously God’s plan for their ultimate happiness.
Third, let’s make sure our kids are able to see happiness in our lives.
Is our family having fun together? Are we parents playing with our kids? It should be that nobody is having more fun together than Christians. Even as kids get older, they need parents that play with them.
Pursuing the faith shouldn’t feel like a chore, so we can incorporate our kids as we plan Bible-related activities. If, for example, the kids are growing tired of doing the same type of family devotion together, maybe it’s time to allow them to help us plan the activities. Especially if they’re preteen or teenager, we can ask for their input and ideas.
Not everything has to be a sermon or a long devotional. And let’s remember that we aren’t the Holy Spirit, but we can plant seeds. And you can plant seeds even if it’s a two-to-three-minute talk about the Bible and life. Adolescents especially need to take responsibility for their relationship with God, and we ought to encourage their participation and creativity as the family figures out ways to talk about and grow in the faith.
Fourth, let’s not be discouraged even though our kids are growing up in a time of cultural darkness.
Yes, it’s a culture in which temptation is everywhere. Yet, ancient Rome was very similar. For them, it was all about bread and circuses—food and entertainment. And it was in the Roman era that the church flourished.
Keeping the faith really isn’t that impossible when you keep the truth in front of you. In fact, there are advantages to living in a culture in which people are more honest that they don’t want God than living in a culture where everyone pretends to be a Christian but hides secret sin. Nowadays, our kids are growing up in a culture in which people are honest about what they think. Similarly, the Roman Empire of the first century wasn’t a pretend-Christian empire. There were many people who were bold about their sin and vocal about their opposition to Christianity. Indeed, during the first century, it looked like Rome was going to win. Yet Rome lost. As they say, nowadays we name our kids Peter and John, and we name our dogs Nero.
- Dr. Michael & Shawn Patterson