Last week I shared about the birth of my new granddaughter and concluded by mentioning that this week in a “Part Two” post I would give some ideas for parents on how they can create a God-centered environment in the home, conducive to worship, and ultimately instrumental in bringing a young child to the point where he or she will make a personal decision for Christ!
As way of personal testimony, I will never forget how at the age of four my father, a Godly man who later entered into full-time ministry, asked me pointedly, “Becky, have you ever asked Jesus into your heart?” It seemed natural to me at the time, as I had been exposed since the cradle to Christian music, Bible stories and a church that was preaching the Gospel! I had even sung solos publicly; my whole life, largely because of the influence of my parents, centered around the Lord, ministry for Him and the music ministry He was calling me into! But, I remember thinking to myself that I really had not specifically asked Jesus into my heart, so I told my dad I would like to. I knelt at a little rocking chair in my younger brother’s nursery (I remember this vividly to this day!) and prayed a simple, childlike prayer of repentance and acceptance of Jesus as my Savior. I used my own words, but my dad remained with me to encourage me, and I knew fully well what I was doing. That is my simple story of conversion, not very dramatic, as some who have been delivered from lives of crime, drugs, immorality and the horrible effects of their sinful lifestyles, but, nonetheless, it is the way it happened and I have never looked back. Oh, there have been times when I have not been as close to the Lord as I should have been and strayed a bit from the straight and narrow path, but He never abandoned me and always accepted my prayers of true repentance. I know my salvation is assured through Christ’s blood!
Here are some ideas I have thought about that will encourage a Godly atmosphere for your child….
1. Purchase or download some worship DVD’s and CD’s that your baby or young child can watch and listen to daily during active hours, rest times and even while falling asleep. There are so many wonderful resources available for young children that are “age appropriate” and will keep their attention, while helping them focus on Jesus and their worship of Him. Even infants and small children retain much of this in their subconscious which will go with them through life. Also, their memories at this age are the best they will ever be and concepts taught before the age of seven or eight years old remain intrinsically in the brain for life! That is why it is so important to plant seeds of life and hope in Christ in a young child’s mind. If a parent constantly exposes their young children to secular rock, rap, hip-hop and other genres that are not Biblically-based, these are the things the young child will want to hear throughout his life; it will largely be all he or she knows. This is very sad! I observed this during my teaching of private voice lessons to young children. Much of the music some brought to sing was appalling and totally age-inappropriate. I could not blame the child, but rather the parent, for allowing such filth into their home. If you are guilty of listening to music or watching TV programs that blaspheme God, degrade people with foul language, glorify immoral lifestyles, or anything else contrary to the Scriptures, get these things out of your home! Trust me, children pick up on these things faster than you think!
2. Read children’s Bible stories, chapters from an easy-to-understand version of the Bible, classics from literature and the animal world, and other types of books to your child. My mother read to me from a Bible story book from the time I was a baby and I still remember these accounts from the Word of God as if it were yesterday. Encourage your child to memorize Scripture. I remember memorizing many verses and short chapters from the Word, particularly the Psalms, Gospels and Epistles, as a young girl attending Christian Day School; these passages have stuck with me my whole life! Amazing! This just proves that the things you put in a child’s mind first stay with him or her the longest.
3. Enroll your child in some type of private music lessons by the time they are five or six years old, if possible, depending on the maturity of the child. Piano is a good basic instrument to start with and, will serve as a good basis for another instrument of his or her choice later on down the road. Expose your child to great classical music, as well. I began piano lessons at age four with my mother, and later transferred to a professional music studio at age seven. Some children are not ready that early, but nearly all of them can sing, so some form of private or group vocal lessons is appropriate, if not group keyboard lessons. Check with local studios in your area; you may be surprised what is available now for very young children!
4. Finally, “live the life” in front of your child! Don’t just preach to them, quote scripture and tell them the right way to go; show them by your life! I believe we as parents and grandparents can have a tremendous impact on our children. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when is old he will not depart from it.” (ESV) May God give us all the faith and courage to do this!