Laying a strong foundation for your children
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Ten Bible verses I want my children to know
I look into [my children’s] faces and hear their melodious laughter and … I want more than the world for them. I want the eternal world for them. [Then] I jolt back to my own experiences and reality. The hurts… The pain from a divorce. The consequences of bad choices that are always forgiven but can still haunt me on the days I forget who I am in Him. I realize at this moment when the innocent and authentic collide that I can’t keep [my children] in a bubble. They’re going to be hurt... They will make bad choices.
Much will change as they grow older, and unfortunately, it’s inevitable that the innocence will begin to chip away. But what won’t change? His truths. He was and is and is to come. He’s the same. Always.The comfort this brings me is overwhelming. So while I believe ALL of scripture is sacred and God-breathed, there are some verses I want my kids to have memorized before they leave my nest.
1. Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”—Hebrews 13:5
2. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.—Psalm 139:13–14
3. Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.—Hebrews 11:1
4. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.—Joshua 1:9
5. I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.—Jeremiah 31:3
6. A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.—Proverbs 15:1
7. Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.—Matthew 5:23–24
8. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!—2 Corinthians 5:17
9. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.—Romans 8:28
From father to child: valuable life lessons
Seven essential life lessons that every dad should share, no matter what his children's ages:
Be curious. Kids are innately curious—but in our rush to get wherever we're going, we fathers are always urging them to move along. Nothing will better unite you with your children—and better prepare them for life—than sharing mutual wonder and the urge to explore. Maybe there is an interesting insect or a beautiful flower in your backyard. Get down on your knees and examine it closely; look it up in the encyclopedia or on the Internet. Try to figure out how any type of machine works.
Be generous. Not just with money—but with time, possessions, and love. The spirit of generosity will teach your children empathy, helping them feel concern for those around them.
Admit when you're wrong. If you don't act as though you're perfect, your children will know that they don't have to be perfect either.
Be willing to fail. The kite crashes; a repair doesn't work; the puzzle pieces won't fit together. So what? You've shown your kids that it's important to try new things, regardless of how they turn out.
Be spontaneous. While it is fine to be organized, it also creates pressure to do things in certain ways. This takes some joy out of life. Teach your kids that it's okay to abandon plans when something else comes along.
Embrace spirituality. Encourage your children to cultivate their sense of awe and wonder—not once a week, but all the time. Spirituality is like a muscle—you have to use it frequently to make it stronger.
Respect your body. Good health is important. Lead by example. Let your kids see you exercising (encourage them to join in), eating a healthful diet, and generally living a clean life.—Joe Kita3
[We] asked: What are our values as a family? What do we really believe? What is important to us? We came up with four words: gratitude, generosity, humility, and courage. We determined that we want those four values to define who we are as a family, and for Parker [my oldest son] and I, who we are as men.
So, I am always conscious of how do we cultivate gratitude. How do we model generosity? How do we stay humble and keep learning and stay hungry for more of God? And how do we live courageously? You cannot obey the will of God and not be courageous. That’s why God said to Joshua, “Be strong and courageous,” because if you are going to experience and stake claim to the promises of God, you are going to have to be courageous.
Those four words are words that begin to define us as a family. They are things I want to impress upon my children.—Mark Batterson4
If you haven’t done this already, it’s a good idea to give some thought to what your personal or family core values are—to determine the ideals that fundamentally guide your personal choices, that represent the Christ-life and integrity that you want to demonstrate, and that you feel will lead to your having a full and purposeful life.
There are any number of ways to express your personal values and priorities. Some people do it in list form, keeping the points brief. Others write a personal mission statement. Some express what they feel identifies them as a person, the aspects of their life and goals that are most important to them.
Even if you haven’t previously given this serious thought, everybody has values or principles that fundamentally play into their decisions and thought processes, even subconsciously, and that are part of making them who they are, that form the fiber of their character. If you give this some thought and prayer, you’ll probably be able to recognize certain threads in your actions and thinking, points that you continually factor in to your decisions or base your decisions on, and this can help you to identify what values are core to you.
You might also recognize some points that you haven’t given the proper priority to, or factors that need more consideration, and you can adjust accordingly. If you haven’t done this before, then your list of values might be a work in progress; you might redefine it as time passes.
If we follow the thinking that the values in Matthew 22:37–40 are at the center of all we say, do, and believe, the basis for our choices … then any values springing from those two commandments will be in harmony with each other.—Peter Amsterdam5
Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”—Matthew 22:37–406
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.—Deuteronomy 6:6–77
Published on Anchor October 2013. Read by Debra Lee.
Music by Daniel Sozzi.
1 The scriptures in this article are from the New International Version (NIV).
3 The Bottom Line, June 15, 2001.
4 "Parenting 101," a talk given at the National Community Church, February 27, 2011.
5 Originally published May 2010.