Let them cry.. training your kids to love the Bible

There've been tears shed in my house this summer over the Bible.  Big, dramatic tears that can only be produced by tween girls.  Now before you get any ideas that my girls have been moved to tears by the power of the Word of God, let me clarify, these are not those kind of tears.  Nope. We've had tears of frustration.  This morning quite a few were shed. Why?  For the second year our family is spending the summer doing an inductive Bible-study called The Sword Study.    I love, love, love The Sword Study.  It's a 13-week deep dig into one book of the Bible.  This summer we are studying the book of Ruth.  

So why are the girls crying?  Because this study is hard.  It says it takes 20 minutes a day, but it takes an hour.  You have to ...wait for it.... look up bible passages.  You have to think.  You have to look up words in Greek and Hebrew.  There is so much hardness.  Call me a heartless mom but I am totally fine with the tears.  The girls are learning to study and make time, real time not four minutes, to study God's word and pray.  Amidst a few tears there has been a whole lot of growth.

I often hear from parents that they don't want to force their children to read the Bible. They think it would be best to let their children choose to read the Bible when they want to so that they won't grow to hate it.  They're trying to avoid the tears I've seen this summer but I think they're wrong. 

As parents our job is to teach our children the things they need to know to navigate their world and successfully become independent adults.  We force them to eat veggies because we know it's better for them than Twinkies.  We're rational enough to know that the day's never going to come that they pick broccoli over Twinkies if we never taught them to try the broccoli.  If we never teach them that the broccoli is better for them than the Twinkies how will they know? We understand that to be a sound argument, but we don't apply this same logic to teaching our children about the Bible. 

Ten summers ago there were a LOT of tears in my house.  So many more tears than this summer.  Why?  We were potty training Sarah.  She was not a fan of the potty.  She loved her princess pull-ups.  Even though there were tears, we persevered because we knew Sarah needed this skill.  Pooping in the corner of the living room is just  not okay for a 16 year old to do... so we had to actually teach her to poop on the potty.  When those last princess pull-ups went in the trash we were SO happy we had persevered.  Parents push through the tough days of potty training because they can see the reward coming, why do we not have this same perseverance when it comes to bible training?

I believe training our children to make reading and studying scripture a part of their daily life, is even more valuable than veggie eating, and potty training.  It's the only skill that will connect them with their Creator,  and give them the saving knowledge of Jesus.   From the time children can read, they should be encouraged to read scripture daily either as part of a family devotion, or on their own.  While I joke about the tears we have seen this summer, there's been a lot more blessings than tears.  I wish those same blessings on you and your children.  Here are three tips for training your children to study scripture: 

1. Be the model:  Our children will do what they see us do, much more often than what we just tell them to do.  The first step to helping your children grow to love studying the Word, is to let them see you loving it.  Emily and I often do our study next to each other.  This morning I caught these pictures - nothing like a little monkey-see-monkey-do.  

2. Make a specific plan:  Plan out what you would like your children to do.  Just like any other skill, you need a plan to teach it.  In the coming weeks I will be blogging more on some specific plans.  In the meantime walk into any Christian bookstore and you will find a buffet of devotion books for kids, tweens, and teens.  You can also keep it simple making a plan to read through one book of the bible, one chapter a day.  Just like with teaching our children to eat veggies, we can't just say, "hey eat your veggies,"  we have to make a plan to have them available and then give our children a goal such as, " At dinner you have to try two bites of each veggie."  Give your children the appropriate resources and then give them clear instructions and expectations.

3. Celebrate it!  From potty training to getting a driver's license, we celebrate all our children's  accomplishments, training them to study the Word should be no different.  Catch your kids in the act and praise them.  When they complete a devotion book or bible study acknowledge it as an accomplishment - because it is one! 

Wishing you joy alongside those tears as you train your children to study the Word.