The One Thing Your Kids Need to Know About You

We have already discussed some practical ways to jump-start discipleship at home, but if you really want them to understand the greatness of God, there’s one thing that your kids need to know about you. They need to know what God has done for you. The command in Deuteronomy 6 (our foundational passage) was first for the people of Israel to confess that there is only one God and to love Him with everything they were. Only after they were first commanded to love and obey the LORD were they then commanded to teach their children to love the LORD. Consequently, the blueprint for faith formation was to orient children toward a God whom the Israelites had experienced personally.

Image: Michelle Meiklejohn /

Generational discipleship is the pattern of Scripture. The Israelites were not instructed to pass along mere facts about God and moral behavior. They
were to pass along a living faith in a living God who had been faithful to His covenant. They were to pass along their experience. The rituals, memorials, and festivals that God instituted were for the very purpose of teaching children about the glory of God. Consider these examples:

  • Passover“And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the LORD’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.’” And the people bowed their heads and worshiped. (Exodus 12:26-27 ESV)
  • The Feast of Unleavened Bread“Unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days; no leavened bread shall be seen with you, and no leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory. You shall tell your son on that day, ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’” (Exodus 13:7-8 ESV)
  • The teaching of the Law“When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the LORD our God has commanded you?’ then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. And the LORD showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes… And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day. And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us.’ (Deuteronomy 6:20-25 ESV)
  • Crossing the Jordan – “that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.” (Joshua 4:6-7 ESV)

Did you catch it? Read the passages again. In each instance the intent was to teach the next generation based on what God had done on behalf of the former generation. Your kids need to hear how God has displayed His power and might in the lives of His people throughout the Bible and church history. But your kids also need to hear how God has been active in your life.

Even painful life experiences are opportunities to teach your children about God. In 2005 my family lived on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi and experienced the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. We also experienced the grace and love of a mighty God who delivered us through that terrible storm. My kids were 6 and 3 when Katrina struck. We often talk about how God was faithful to us and active in our lives through that tragedy. Every time we do I am able to tell my kids that because Christ has redeemed us He will return again to deliver us from a world of crisis.

I am thankful that there is a movement afoot to focus on solid theological grounding in discipleship. It is truly necessary. I am afraid, though, that this sincere intention to share facts about God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ has obscured the value of telling the stories of our own personal experience with Him. Your kids do need to know that Jesus loves them because the Bible tells them so, yes, but they also need to know how that love has been demonstrated in their family.

So, how has God worked in your life? Have you ever told your kids your story of coming to Christ? (If you can’t tell the story, click on the “Story” Icon to the right for more information).

If your kids asked you a modern day version of “What do these stones mean to you?”, how would you answer?

Here’s an idea: Read Psalm 126 together as a family. Consider verse 3, “The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad.” Tell your children a story from your own experience where God displayed His greatness. Be as specific as you can. Tell them the greatest thing that He did to demonstrate His love by sending Jesus Christ to save them from their sin (Romans 5:8). Then pray and thank God for the great things He has done.