Two words: homeschooled and teen. I think you get the picture.
We simply needed to get out of the house by 9:40 am. Easy, right? But getting out of the bed… well, there’s just something in your body that makes it so much more difficult after you hit double digits.
On this particular morning, I was doing what any good mom would do and singing a good morning song to help rouse the troops. (OK, it might have been a slightly obnoxious song, but I prefer to think of it as motivational.)
As I walked into her room, my oldest belted out, “MOM, do you know the verse that says the deceiver will be thrown into the lake of fire and tormented day and night forever?”
It was one of those parenting moments filled with internal conflict. Do you laugh hysterically? Punish firmly for disrespect? Or swell with pride over the deep theology of your 12-year-old?
I’ll admit, I laughed. I found myself pretty excited over her quotation of Scripture. Not so much that she knew a verse, but that she knew it well enough to apply it to a “difficult” situation in her life. Ha. Her words clearly demonstrated her ability to take what she had memorized and use it to help her. That made me proud.
Every Wednesday night I teach a group of 6th graders and am constantly reminded that not all parents are helping their kids with this. Oh friend, can I tell you something? Teaching our kids Scripture is NOT enough. It’s just not. If they can’t apply it to their lives and/or never think to, they might as well be memorizing something else.
Oh, how I wish someone around me had known this truth when I was in middle school. I can’t imagine the impact it might have had on my life or the trouble it might have saved me from.
So on behalf of my middle school self… may I encourage you in this for just a few minutes? We know the Word of God is living and active. It’s relevant and it holds every answer we need to navigate this crazy world. Are we teaching our kids that?
No, I didn’t ask if you were telling them. I asked if you were teaching them. Teaching is something we do in every part of our day. We do it when we get up in the morning, walk along the way, and lie down at night (according to Deut. 6:6-7). It means we model the use of Scripture to actually solve our problems, encourage our hearts, and yes, even to make us laugh.
5 Ways to Help Your Kids Apply Scripture to Their Lives
1. Live out loud.
I know as parents we struggle with this. No one wants to admit failures and weaknesses in front of others, much less our kids. Truthfully, we are pretty sure doing so will actually cause them to think we are unworthy of their respect.
So let’s get that straight right now. First, you aren’t worthy of their respect. You and I both mess up all the time. We are only granted authority over these kids because God says so. Not because we earned it. Second, when you are real with your kids, they will respect you MORE. Not less. I promise. Try it.
When you can humble yourself before your child and admit a mistake, they can make sense of their own failures. This one thing draws them to Christ more than anything else. It makes the Christian walk possible, instead of putting it on a pedestal they can never reach.
Of course, this means you’ll need to know some verses personally, which means we ought to be devoting regular time to Scripture memory ourselves! Here’s one of my favorite resources to help.
2. Solve your problems with THE book.
I’m not even going to pretend to know the answers to all of our problems. Ha. I’m pretty excited if I know the answer to ONE of our problems each day. But I do know where to find the answers and so do you. Don’t be afraid to look things up and please, don’t be too busy to bother.
When your kids have questions, problems, concerns, or even just need a reminder, open the Bible and talk through it. Show them how to google an answer. Show them how to use the concordance. And show them how to simply open the Bible and pray Scripture they know, even if it doesn’t apply to the exact situation. All of these lead to hearing more truth, which will always lead us down the right path (because God promises it will! Prov. 3:5-6).
3. Have a family devotion time that involves talking.
If you are having a family devotion or worship time at all, I want you to know how thrilled I am. Not because you need to impress me or anything, but because I know personally how hard it is to make this happen. So I’m hesitant to pick on your style, but bear with me. I pray it helps rather than frustrates or overwhelms.
Most people have a devotion time where they read a portion of a book (or even the Bible), pray, and then call it a day. DON’T do this. It’s not enough. I would argue that the most important part of your time together as a family is the discussing. Take time to discuss what you’ve read. Even if it means you read less, it will benefit your family more.
In our family, the morning devotion time is dedicated to the discussion of what God is teaching us in our quiet times. We don’t actually read the Bible together. Instead our time focuses on applying what we read on our own and sharing that with each other. Of course, we do read the Bible together at other times during the school day, but the morning is reserved for this format. More about our family devotions here.
4. Make it a part of your school assignments.
Most of us wait until it’s way too late to start this process. That mistake is fatal since research shows teens who walk away from the church first start doubting in middle school. We’ve got to be about the business of laying a better foundation before we get there. We have a few resources that are great for this.
Reading Journal–in this reading curriculum for elementary aged children, there are many places for students to respond to a text by defending their faith. We give them questions like, “What would you say to the main character to help him know God?” or “After reading Philippians 4:8, do you think this book fits the qualifications of the kinds of things we should read?”
5. Study the lives of people who held fast to the faith.
I’m really careful about bringing too much of other people’s ideas into my homeschool. I want my kids to quote the words of the Bible more than anyone else’s. However, there is great benefit in studying the lives of missionaries or other great men/women who held fast to their faith.
Missionary study gives us a glimpse into how to use God’s Word to support and uplift you when times are hard. This is something we can’t always do in our homes. Sure we have hard things, but most of us have never faced the difficulties many of these missionaries did. Studying their lives is a great way to see how to apply Scripture to our lives without having to personally walk through the trial.
What things do you do to encourage Scripture memory and it’s application in your home?