James LoGalbo is an everyday lover of Christ, his wife, Cortni, and two daughters, Layla and Miley, who enjoys casually writing about what God teaches him through both embarrassment and study (but mostly embarrassment).
He is currently working on a 365-day devotional for singles as well as managing his interactive blogging website, First Love Blog
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. – Ephesians 6:4
Dad’s, we are commanded to teach our children about God.
Think about that for a moment.
Our puny minds, full of football stats, grilling menus, and hunting gear are also translators of the eternal Word of God to our 6 year olds’ ears.
This seems like a daunting task, and indeed it’s one that requires careful words and thoughtful explanations, but it’s also one that is drenched in God’s grace towards us. God honors our obedience to teach our children His Word, sometimes in-spite of our stumbling efforts, but that’s what we need to do: Put forth effort.
I have two daughters, a six year old and a nine year old. Here are three things they’ve taught me about teaching them:
1) Teaching my daughters won’t always go as expected.
My daughters always like to brag about how they’ve learned “the whole Bible” (aka Jonah and the “whale”, Noah’s ark, and some stuff about Jesus) in Sunday school. So my wife, Cortni and I decided that we would study a new question from The Westminster Shorter Catechism at dinner each night. The beauty of catechizing the kids is that catechisms teach more than Bible stories. They teach children about doctrine, with questions like “What is sin?” “How did Christ, being the Son of God, become man?” and “What is repentance unto life?”
A couple of weeks ago, I opened up the Westminster Shorter for the first time at dinner, and threw the curveball at my oldest daughter. “Layla, what is the chief end of man? What is the purpose that God created us for?” She refused to swing at the pitch and rather threw a knuckle ball back at me. “Why did God create Satan when He knew that Satan would do so many bad things?”
Soon enough there was an onslaught of “why” questions, raised voices, a cloud of dust, and tears of reconciliation. The night didn’t go as expected, but hey, we got to hear our daughter’s struggles to understand a question that many adults would rather ignore. In the end, God’s grace was abundant to bless the conversation with both of our girls that night.
Naturally, from this point, I’ve learned another point:
2) Teaching my daughters is harder than I thought it would be.
“Heck, I’ve taught adults the Bible before,” was my (ignorant) thought. Sure, children might be less stubborn to teach than adults, but they aren’t easier to teach.
Trying to communicate the things of God to the mind of a child in a clear and truthful way is not an easy task. This week I’ve spent about as much time studying how to teach my kids about the Trinity as I have formerly preparing sermons to preach. Even if I chop the doctrine of the Trinity into a bite-sized chunk for the girls to chew on, they’ll be chewing on it for all eternity, just like the rest of us.
As “this side of heaven” folks, we’re trying to grasp onto truths that we can’t fully grasp ourselves and set them before our children in ways that will help them to see how beautiful these truths are. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all way to do this. After much trial and error, in order to help my girls understand beautiful doctrines, I’ve drawn some not so beautiful illustrations. To help them understand the seamless story of the redemption of man in Christ, I’ve written some cringe-worthy stories (not intentional of course) featuring werewolves and woodland creatures.
Teaching children requires interaction, illustration, and most importantly it requires the illumination from the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our Comforter when trying to teach our kids about doctrine. Just as He is the one that illuminates my mind to see Christ’s beauty in the Scriptures, I am confident that He is doing the same for my girls. When His Word is opened and taught, His will is accomplished.
That leads to the next lesson I’ve learned from teaching my girls God’s Word:
3) Teaching my daughters doesn’t require me to have all the answers.
I can’t tell you how freeing it was for me to say to my nine year old, “I’m not sure honey, but I’ll do some reading and look for the answer.”
I love studying God’s Word. Every morning I wake up and open my Bible, I am blessed with the undeserved promise that He is there to meet with me, a wretched sinner, and speak to me through His Spirit – to show me Christ on every page and to convict me of my sin. I also thoroughly enjoy reading books that emphasize the doctrines found in Scripture. Some of my favorite moments of the day consist of dissecting a Reformed Confession, taking notes on Puritan thought, or underlining my way through a book from my wife about applying gospel truths to my life.
Even with all of this study, I still get the privilege of confessing to my daughters that I am merely a man that will always be learning about my God that I love. When I say, “I don’t know how to answer that right now, but I’ll check my Bible” I’m telling her that I care more about her having the correct view of God rather than the false notion that her dad is a super genius that can flippantly spout off theological answers to tough questions. And as long as she’s asking me, “Daddy, what does this mean?” my heart will burst into praise because God, in His grace, has allowed me to teach His daughter about Him, even though I don’t always do so perfectly.
Dads, we are responsible for what our children know about God more so than the youth pastor, the children’s pastor, and the pre-K volunteer. We must humbly rise to this task with confidence in our heavenly Father who teaches us to teach, as we fall under the fountain of grace that flows from Christ.