As parents, we strive to help our kids grow into their full potential. We help them with their homework, get them involved in planned activities, and invest for their college education.
But while we may plan for their success, we can overlook a vital part of their personal development: Nurturing and encouraging a solid foundation of faith.
It can be easy to assume our children are growing spiritually in church youth groups and programs. Yet it's vital that we take an active role in guiding them in their relationship with Jesus.
The life of Joseph offers parents a Biblical standard for building children of character. Drawing from his story, this book will help you do just that. Inside you'll find a unique guide for creating a personalized plan for your child's spiritual growth, from preschool through high school. This practical guide will help your child:
- Acquire wisdom from the Bible
- Understand God's grace
- Gain a sense of destiny and purpose
- Develop a life-perspective based on God's perfect plan
The result: Children and teenagers who know, love, and serve the Lord.
So invest in their spiritual development. And create a legacy of faith that will last a lifetime.
|Publisher:||David C Cook|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||2 MB|
About the Author
Linda Massey Weddle is Senior Curriculum Designer - U.S. Programs at Awana. She has worked in almost every area of church ministry and has authored thirteen books.
Read an Excerpt
HOW TO RAISE A MODERN-DAY JOSEPH
A PRACTICAL GUIDE FOR GROWING GREAT KIDS
By Linda Massey Weddle
David C. CookCopyright © 2009 Awana® Clubs International
All rights reserved.
AT THE STARTING LINE (AGES 0–2)
This chapter won't have all the various components you'll find later for the older age-groups, but it's important to realize how much parents of infants can do in launching the spiritual training of their children.
In fact, this spiritual training actually begins before your child is born.
BEFORE THE BIRTH
I remember the day I found out I was pregnant. My husband and I had boundless excitement and energy. I remember calling my parents and in-laws, baking bread from scratch, and going on a ten-mile bike ride. We were excited and on our way to having a little person call us "Dad" and "Mom." Immediately, we began to think about the future.
The nine months you're waiting for your baby to be born lend themselves to lots of discussions and plans for the future.
If you're in that excited, anticipatory stage, here's a list of some things to think about. (No expectant parents can decide everything at this point, but these are major questions to consider.)
What do you want for your child? Pray together, dedicating yourselves to raising your child in the training and instruction of the Lord.
What does God say about raising a family? Study the Bible together to find out.
Does your church have classes for new parents? Check and see what's available.
Does your church have a mentoring program for new moms and dads where you're paired with an experienced set of parents?
How involved will you be in your local church? (If you haven't found a local church, what steps will you take to find one?)
Are there differences in how you were spiritually trained? Maybe one of you grew up in a Christian home and one didn't. Or maybe one of you went to church only once a month, while the other was there every time the church doors were open. Maybe both of you grew up in Awana, but one was encouraged to learn the verses and one wasn't. All these things need to be discussed.
Are you familiar with the church nursery? Volunteer to help. The staff will probably be glad to have you, and you'll become familiar with the other volunteers and the procedures.
Can you be added to the church prayer list? Request prayer for wisdom as you raise your new child.
Do you plan to set aside time as a family to study God's Word and pray, taking into consideration the ages of the children in choosing appropriate subject material?
Will spiritual growth take precedence over other activities? Will your child miss a soccer game for church or church for a soccer game? Will you be just as diligent to work with a child on Bible memorization as you will be to teach him math?
Keep the answers to your questions in a journal or other special place. Yes, things change once that baby comes into the world—but discussing important subjects thoroughly now will help you be prepared when the situation is right in front of you.
AFTER THE BIRTH
Oh, the joy of a new baby—and the sleepless nights, the endless laundry, the constant diaper changes ... and the unbelievable delight in holding that tiny person in your arms.
Study after study shows how important it is for an infant to bond with his or her parents. That's where the child finds safety and fulfillment of his needs. In forming that bond, you're creating an atmosphere that will eventually make understanding the love of the heavenly Father all the easier.
Here are some ways to get off to a good start:
Pray with the baby before bedtime and meals. Even though the child can't understand, she becomes familiar with the pattern. Sometimes a child's first "spiritual" response is folding his hands before mealtime and then shouting "Amen" at the end of the prayer. Children don't truly understand what they're doing, but again, the parents are establishing a pattern that someday will be meaningful to the child.
Read Bible biographies from bright-colored Bible storybooks. Even young babies enjoy hearing the sound of Dad's or Mom's voice, and looking at the appealing shapes and colors.
Take your baby to church. Children who attend church from the beginning adjust better later on when attending age-appropriate classes. This also helps others in the church to become acquainted with your child.
Ask a pastor or staff member to visit your home.
Become acquainted with the children's ministries in your church.
PARTNERING WITH YOUR CHURCH
Be sure to look also at chapter 9 ("At the Starting Line") in part 2 of this book for ideas of how the church can partner with you at this stage in your child's life.
Notice especially the information there about a baby dedication service—where you stand before the church and publicly acknowledge that you want to raise your child in the training and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). The congregation is usually asked to pray for you and your family.CHAPTER 2
PRESCHOOLERS (AGES 2–5)
MASTER LIFE THREAD: RESPECT (GENESIS 39:6–9)
Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.
Several years ago, we laid new carpet on the stairway in our house—thick carpet, the kind that's fun to sit on, jump on, lie on, and curl your toes around.
One evening I was in the kitchen making supper when I heard unstoppable giggling punctuated by soft thuds. Curious, I walked into the hallway to find my two children making their way down the stairs on their bottoms.
"What are you doing?" I asked.
Gleefully, the two-year-old responded, "We're just bumping down the stairs with Jesus." He collapsed in another round of giggles.
That's a great example of how preschoolers perceive their heavenly Father—as someone who's right there beside them.
When my husband passed away a few years ago, our grandchildren were all preschoolers. As the adults grieved, the children were excited for Ken. "Grandpa gets to go to heaven. He gets to see Jesus. I think he's having a lot of fun, don't you? I wish I could go to heaven too." We had told them heaven is a wonderful place, and now that the reality of heaven was hitting our family in a sudden and life-changing way, the kids accepted it in the same spirit in which we had taught it. Why be sad about going to a wonderful place like heaven? In their own way, they encouraged us adults.
Yes, the preschool years are the time to build the foundations of a child's faith. These are the years when children form an initial understanding about God; His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ; and the Bible. They believe everything they're told about God. Why? Because we—the people they trust—are the ones who told them, and they unfailingly believe in us.
Preschoolers are limited not in how much they learn, but in how they learn it. They can't read. They can't study. They can't get themselves to church. They're totally dependent on parents or other close adults.
Think of the magnitude of our responsibility because of these limitations. We're the ones who choose what to teach them and, as a result, what they learn. Spiritual training is important at every age in life, but at no time is it more important than during these preschool years. They have no other access to the Bible except through us, the adults in their lives.
All parents teach their children something about God—though it might be that God is someone to be ignored, someone to be mocked, or someone whose name is a curse word. Whatever it is, they're teaching something.
As we've seen in the introduction, our desire is to raise children who reflect the same godly characteristics evident in the life of the biblical Joseph. (See Genesis 37—50.) And as we study Joseph's biography, we conclude that the foundational characteristic Joseph demonstrated was a respect for the awesomeness and authority of God (which includes respect for human authority).
Without this respect for God and His standards, a child cannot come to the point of salvation or make wise life choices.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise. (Psalm 111:10)
By "fear," the psalmist didn't mean a cowardly terror, but rather an understanding of the awesomeness of God resulting in responsive, reverent obedience. Because we respect God, we want to do what He desires us to do.
Our goal is to teach our preschool child the hows and whys of respecting God. We need to teach these truths:
God is the Creator (Genesis 1:1). He created the flowers, the mountains, the kittens, the elephants. He created the stars way out in space. He created the entire universe. And He created the standard of righteousness.
God knows all (Psalm 147:5). Preschoolers like to know. They're conscious of what they know and don't know. "I know my ABCs. Do you want to hear me say them?" "I know how to count to thirty. Wanna hear me?" They're also conscious that they don't know as much as their parents or their older brothers and sisters. Recently a five-year-old said to me, "I want to know how to read like my brother." Preschoolers are impressed with knowledge and can easily understand the concept that God knows everything.
God is everywhere (Psalm 139:7–10). Preschoolers know they're in one place. They aren't at Grandma's house and at the doctor's office at the same moment. But God is everywhere. He's the only One who can be in all places at all times. That's a comforting thought to a child, because it means God is with each of us wherever we are.
God is different from us (Psalm 90:2). We can understand from nature that God is powerful, creative, and personal (Romans 1:19–20). Beyond that, our knowledge of Him comes from His Word. He tells us everything we need to know about our past, present, and future. He tells us how we're to live our daily lives. But there are many aspects of God that He chooses not to tell us. God is God; we cannot understand everything that He understands and knows. Explaining to children how different God is from us can also help with those difficult questions of "Where did God come from?" and "How old is God?"
God is holy (Psalm 77:13). Holy means set apart, perfect, and pure. In contrast to God's holiness, we are sinners; we're far from perfect. So God gives us instructions, guidelines, and laws on how to live the right way in light of His holiness. God sets the standard for what's right and wrong.
God is love (John 3:16). Yes, God is the Creator of the entire universe, but He's also God of the individual. He loves each one of us.
The character of God isn't limited to these qualities. God is also true (Jeremiah 10:10); He is faithful (Psalm 100:5); He's eternal (1 Timothy 1:17); He's all powerful (Psalm 147:5); He is just (Psalm 11:7)—and the list continues on and on.
Teaching respect for God's awesomeness is a daily process. We communicate it not only through our words, but also through our actions. Do our children see us respecting our awesome God and responding in obedience? Or do they see us treating prayer, church, and Bible study as something "we have to do" before getting to the truly important or truly enjoyable tasks in life?
Begin each day with prayer, asking God to give you wisdom (and patience) as you convey His awesomeness and authority to your child.
WHAT THEY'RE LIKE: CHARACTERISTICS OF PRESCHOOLERS
Preschool children are cute, wiggly, and in love with life. Their idea of a good time can be anything from jumping around the room (sometimes that's all they need to have a good time) to cuddling on the couch with Dad and Mom.
Many books have been written describing the characteristics of this age-group. We'll focus here on ten characteristics. Knowing them is pivotal in understanding how preschoolers acquire knowledge.
1. Preschoolers are eager learners. Every day they learn something new about life. Think about the helpless baby you brought home from the hospital just a few years ago. He couldn't do anything for himself except cry to let you know he was hungry, sleepy, or needed his diaper changed. Now, just a few years later, he runs, sings, recognizes his letters, does somersaults, and understands exactly how to melt your heart by sweetly saying "I love you" in the middle of a scolding.
Take advantage of his rapid ability to learn by giving him new experiences and teaching him new concepts and words. Teach him about the awesomeness of God. Stretch his young mind by presenting biblical concepts above and beyond the typical Bible "story."
2. Preschoolers like to ask questions. One way they learn is by asking questions—hundreds of questions. How many times has a parent heard "But why, Mom?" or "How come, Dad?" They have questions about everything, and we as adults can choose to deal with those questions either patiently or impatiently. When children ask those hard questions about God, we can remind them that God is different from us, that He knows everything, and that He's everywhere. We don't have to stumble around when being challenged by a four-year-old with "Where is God? What's He doing? How did He get to heaven?" Being patient listeners to our children now will encourage them to continue to come to us later with their tougher-to-ask questions without fear of being laughed at or ignored.
3. Preschoolers watch and observe. They learn by watching what other people are doing. That's why they pretend they're cooking dinner, going to work, or traveling on an airplane. They watch and they imitate. They also watch how Dad and Mom respond to tough situations. How many children have scolded a doll or stuffed animal using the same tone of voice or word choice a parent used on them?
But a child observes the good things too. Has your daughter taught a verse to her dolls, "like Daddy taught me"? Or played church? Or taught a younger brother or sister about Adam and Eve? Imitating older siblings or adults is part of their life education. If we want them to have a good attitude, a kind heart, and gracious speech, we need to model those characteristics for them.
4. Preschoolers enjoy repetition. They'll ask for the same book to be read to them over and over. They also have favorite DVDs they don't mind watching again and again. We can use this desire for repetition by repeating a verse or concept multiple times during the day. Reviewing is the key to learning, and preschoolers are natural reviewers.
5. Preschoolers have fears. Children can be afraid of dogs, thunder, monsters, new places, bugs, and various other things, some of which make no sense. (Unfounded fears in my own preschool brain included the moon, a reservoir, and a picture in the Saturday Evening Post.) What an excellent opportunity to emphasize God's constant presence.
Our encouragement should be that God is with us, helping us to be brave—not that He'll always protect us from the mean dog next door. What if the mean dog does escape one day and nips your child's leg? What if you do have a car accident? What if Grandpa does die? Did God forget to protect that day? God doesn't promise us immunity from bad things (Matthew 5:45; Romans 12:12), but He does promise to help us through all things.
6. Preschoolers want the approval of adults. Sometimes we're quick to show disapproval when a child does something wrong. Our emphasis should be on approval for what the child does right. As you teach your child and he grasps a concept, give him a hug, a smile, a word of praise. Let him know you're excited that he learned a verse or remembered that God was with him during the thunderstorm. Children need to know that you approve of them and that you're excited that they're learning about trusting in the Lord.
Sometimes when children disobey or say something disrespectful, they're so "cute" in doing so that we laugh. Children notice and repeat the action or words because such laughter means approval. Giving approval for the right response is important, but we also need to watch that we aren't giving it for the wrong response.
Excerpted from HOW TO RAISE A MODERN-DAY JOSEPH by Linda Massey Weddle. Copyright © 2009 Awana® Clubs International. Excerpted by permission of David C. Cook.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
INTRODUCTION: A JOURNEY WORTH PLANNING,
PART ONE: (ESPECIALLY FOR PARENTS),
CHAPTER 1: AT THE STARTING LINE (AGES 0–2),
CHAPTER 2: PRESCHOOLERS (AGES 2–5),
CHAPTER 3: EARLY ELEMENTARY (AGES 5–8: KINDERGARTEN THROUGH SECOND GRADE),
CHAPTER 4: OLDER ELEMENTARY (AGES 8–11: THIRD THROUGH SIXTH GRADES),
CHAPTER 5: MIDDLE SCHOOL (AGES 11–14: SEVENTH AND EIGHTH GRADES),
CHAPTER 6: HIGH SCHOOL (AGES 14–18: NINTH THROUGH TWELFTH GRADES),
PART TWO: (ESPECIALLY FOR CHURCHES),
CHAPTER 7: WHY WE NEED EACH OTHER,
CHAPTER 8: THE PLAN,
CHAPTER 9: AT THE STARTING LINE (AGES 0–2),
CHAPTER 10: PRESCHOOLERS (AGES 2–5),
CHAPTER 11: EARLY ELEMENTARY (AGES 5–8: KINDERGARTEN THROUGH SECOND GRADE),
CHAPTER 12: OLDER ELEMENTARY (AGES 8–11: THIRD THROUGH SIXTH GRADES),
CHAPTER 13: MIDDLE SCHOOL (AGES 11–14: SEVENTH AND EIGHTH GRADES),
CHAPTER 14: HIGH SCHOOL (AGES 14–18: NINTH THROUGH TWELFTH GRADES),