By Dana Kinion
“I keep six honest serving men,
They taught me all I knew.
Their names were What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.”
– I Keep Six Honest Serving Men, Rudyard Kipling
This is the first part of a poem by Rudyard Kipling.
I learned it from my high school writing teacher who wanted us to examine our writings to make sure we had given all the necessary information in our piece. This is one of the things I learned in school that stuck with me.
It’s amazing how often I’ve used these six honest serving men since high school.
This quote is being used for professional training in leadership and business, but it can be applied in any number of scenarios.
Today, let’s apply it to Christian parenting.
Christian Parenting with the “Why” of the Gospel
Looking back, I’d like a “do-over” on parenting, but that’s not going to happen.
I raised my four children from 1978 until 2013. There were 16 years between the oldest and youngest, so I had plenty of time and opportunity to get it right.
But I didn’t.
I followed the cultural trends of the day. In a lot of Christian circles, parents taught behavior modification.
My children heard all the Bible stories, went to church, Sunday school, summer camp, youth group, and all the other programs designed for them.
I was convinced they were covered.
We taught them how to behave and what Christians were supposed to believe—but we didn’t teach them why.
Now parents have several methods available to help teach children the “why” of the Gospel.
These methods are simple and easy to integrate into your Christian parenting plan. We’ll look at them together.We often teach kids how to behave and what Christians were supposed to believe—but we don’t teach them why.
The “Why” of the Gospel Matters in Parenting your Children
“I assure you,” He said, “unless you are converted and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” -Matthew 18:3 HCSB
The faith of children is precious to God.
Jesus even teaches us we adults need to have childlike faith; we need to be trusting and hopeful, just like children.
Yet as their parents, we also need to teach them more and more principles of faith as they grow, so their faith can become their own.
My children were taught what to do and what not to do, but they needed to learn why the Gospel should be important to them.
Unfortunately, I passed this responsibility on to the church and its programs.
When we leave the full responsibility to the church, we overlook the most valuable training necessary in our homes.
We need to teach them how to ask hard questions and find answers in the Bible.
Even if we don’t have the answers, we can help them search Scripture for the answers.
We can teach them the “what” of the gospel: salvation. Then the “how”: receive Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior of your life. The “where” and “when” are everywhere and all the time.
And it’s important to teach them the “who”: Jesus Christ.
But we can’t afford to leave out the “why.”We need to teach our children how to ask hard questions and find answers in the Bible.
Children are Missing the “Why” of the Gospel
“Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him.” – Hebrews 11:6 HCSB
The Bible teaches us that the “why” of our belief is essential to our faith.
We must believe that God exists, that Jesus died and rose for us, and that we receive eternal life if we believe these truths and live by them since God is King over our lives.
If we don’t get this “why” right, we have no solid basis for our faith.
Young people are falling away from the church in droves today. That’s partly because we haven’t taught them why they should dedicate their lives to Jesus.
We haven’t given them the tools to find out for themselves why the Gospel is so important.
We often don’t encourage our kids to ask their honest and thoughtful questions to get to the why of faith.
Sometimes we may answer with platitudes like “You just have to have faith.”
Usually, there are solid answers for our children’s probes into “why.” They wouldn’t ask the questions if they didn’t want the real answers.Young people are falling away from the church in droves today. That’s partly because we haven’t taught them why they should dedicate their lives to Jesus.
The Urgent Need for Teaching the “Why” of the Gospel
“First, be aware of this: Scoffers will come in the last days to scoff, living according to their own desires.” –2 Peter 3:3 HCSB
Our culture is rapidly falling away from God, and there are more “why” questions now than ever before.
Post-modern society is dropping Christian values and morals right and left.
Our children are attending school with people who actively want them to turn away from biblical values.
However, there is absolute truth in spite of what they are being taught (Jn 14:6). We must teach our kids this truth before the enemy of their souls teaches them otherwise.
We don’t know if we are truly living in the last days, because no one knows this for sure (Mt 11:27).
However, we know that every new day brings us closer to Jesus’ return, and we must be intentional in teaching our kids why they need to know what they believe before He comes back.We must teach our kids this truth before the enemy of their souls teaches them otherwise.
How to Teach Your Children the “Why” of the Gospel
There are several practical steps we need to take in teaching our children the “why” of the Gospel. You can use one or all of these principles depending on the age of your children.
1. Start as early as possible.
“Teach a youth about the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6 HCSB
This teaching process needs to start very early.
In public schools, young children are being encouraged to discover their sexual preferences when they shouldn’t even know what sex means.
When kids normally think the opposite sex has “cooties,” they are being told to choose which sex they like best.
They are being taught it’s bad to have any negative input.
If someone hurts our feelings we can be severely damaged. If our feelings aren’t hurt, they should be because someone else had their feelings hurt.
They are being taught to be victims.
Let’s face it: we live in a downward-spiraling world of ungodly values. But you can fight back by being intentional even before your children are born.
You can start singing hymns to your child while they are still in utero. Infants and toddlers love to hear songs, which you can make up as you go.
Little children love to be cuddled while they listen to books being read to them. Why not use mostly Christian board books to start whetting your child’s appetite for God’s truths, even before he can speak?
These intentional acts will plant many seeds of faith in your child’s life.We need to teach our children the principles that should prompt their behaviors.
2. Focus on your child’s heart.
“Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” – Colossians 3:20 HCSB
We need to teach our children the principles that should prompt their behaviors.
It’s important they know who created them and the rest of the universe and that God loves his creation (John 3:16). They need to know the Creator has the best plan for His creation and that straying from that plan can have huge consequences.
Let’s show them the biblical definition of marriage (Gn 2:22-24). How about letting them know that God is in control, He’s never stopped being in control, and He never plans to do so.
Teach them their feelings don’t determine truth, but that their feelings should be disciplined by truth.
Children need to learn obedience. But they must first know they are loved unconditionally.
Their acts of obedience need to be tied to a love relationship, a desire to please the father and mother they love. In this way, they can learn to obey their Heavenly Father who loves them even more, especially if you explain this to them.
This principle of unconditional love from you and God can motivate their obedience and direct their feelings.
3. Read the Scriptures often with your children.
“I have treasured Your word in my heart so that I may not sin against You.” – Psalm 119:11 HCSB
Children need to see God’s Word with their own eyes.
They need to have times of discussion with the authority structure of the family God has placed in their lives.
Teach them it’s okay to ask questions and how to go to the Bible on their own to look for answers.
God loves your child, and He is always good.
When children understand that God wants to be in a personal relationship with them, they will be able to press into this truth. That’s how faith becomes their own, not simply the faith of your family.
When parents answer their hard questions with platitudes and empty words that are not wise, that’s when children can be tempted to think maybe the world is right and that Christian stuff is nonsense.
But by reading the Scriptures often with your children, you teach them to treasure God’s Word in their hearts to guard them against making sinful choices.
Seize the day to teach your children the “why” of the Gospel (Rm 13:11).By reading the Scriptures often with your children, you teach them to treasure God’s Word in their hearts to guard them against making sinful choices.
The time that you have with your kids is so short. Keep biblical principles front and center.
Teach your little ones the what’s, why’s, when’s, how’s, where’s and who’s of being a Christian.
When they learn how to analyze what they are being taught by the world against the Bible, they will be powerful warriors for Christ in their generation.
Help them learn how to put on the full armor of God (Eph 6:10-18).
Put the shield of faith in their hands.
Once they know why this is important, they will begin to speak against the godlessness in our culture and hopefully lead others to follow Christ.
They will become an army that serves the King of Kings!
Dana Kinion is an author and speaker who loves to help women find their place in God’s service. She started Under the Shadow Ministries as a platform to encourage, support, and equip women along their journey with God. Her YouTube channel, Light In The Shadow-Dana Kinion, is dedicated to bringing God glory as she interviews women who are walking closely with Him. Writing, teaching and speaking are her passions, pointing women to Christ is her objective. You can find Dana on Facebook and YouTube.