Your responsibility as a parent is to raise your child and shape their spiritual development.
“Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6
“5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:5-9
“9 Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.10 Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb,when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.”” Deuteronomy 4:9-10
As parents we are ALL shaping our children’s spiritual view whether or not we know it. In our house we know what our spiritual beliefs are, we are passionate about them and we have decided we want our children to have a strong spiritual foundation in Christ. We therefore setup a spiritual leadership plan. This will look different in every home and family, I am going to share what we have done and are doing in our family. If you need help getting started, at the very end of this post is a worksheet you can print out (or just edit on your computer) to help you get your plan going.
The spiritual leadership plan we use has two parts. The first part is the foundation. The starts with the end in mind-your goals, knowing where you want to go so that you can make a plan to get there. Once you have your goals set in place you look at what time you have available in your schedule, and then what traditions (spiritual and non-spiritual) are important to you and your spouse.
Once the foundation is laid, it is time to take that information and create an action plan for each person in your family, including yourself. When your children are very young you will create their action plan for them, as they grow, the amount they are involved will increase, until they create their own action plan for their spiritual growth. I would advise you to continue to make a plan for them as their guide and mentor.
The important thing to remember is that this is a living and changing plan. While you sit down to commit time to make it initially, you will change it as you and your family change and grow.
The foundation of our Spiritual Leadership Plan for our family has 3 parts:
- Long term (18+ years)
- Short term (3-6 months)
- How and when will we work towards these goals
- What traditions are important for us to pass on to our children, what is their purpose
Every successful plan has an endpoint in mind, this is the goal. It gives those involved a target to aim for. This is the same with your spiritual leadership plan, what is the long term vision you have for your children spiritually?
We started by building our long term goals. These are the character traits that we would like our children to have when they leave our home. This includes things like a passion for Jesus, a love for others, a prayerful heart etc. We worked together to create these goals, and while they mostly stay the same we have altered them a couple of times as we as parents have grown and changed.
Once we have our long term goals in place we then create short term goals. These short term goals have a 3-6 month target and plan. The short term goals are based on our long term goals and give us a shorter focus towards the longer/larger plan. We try to check in periodically to see how we are doing. The final step in creating goals, is to create even shorter/focused goals. These are either daily or weekly. Often these goals are not formally created or written down in our family. It may be something like this:
- Long term parenting goal: To love others
- Short term goal: To learn to let other’s go first
- Goal for the week: Memorize and discuss bible verses about loving others, being kind and letting others go first
To prepare for your plan, make sure your schedule is up to date. Write down what times you have available for taking action on your plan. These times will be used as you build your action plan. i.e. if you eat lunch with your children, that may be a great time to work on bible verses or a devotional on kindness.
Every person and family has traditions. Some they hold more dear than others and many they probably do not even recognize. When we often think of traditions we think of holiday activities, these are traditions, but there are also daily traditions. One of our favorite daily traditions is having meal time together, another is reading books after lunch, before rest time. As you begin to develop the spiritual leadership plan for your family, you and your spouse need to take into account the traditions that you consider important. Evaluate if they align with your parenting long term goals. Determine how you will include them in your short term goals and schedule.
Once your foundation is laid for your spiritual leadership plan, the next step is to identify what activities align with your future goals and how you will schedule them into your family’s lives. These will be part of your action plan, these are the steps you will take to accomplish your goals for your future. Here are some activities that we use to accomplish our parenting goals in our family.
Meal Time Activities
- Prayer to start the meals
- We also use this as a time to care for others by identifying who we are missing and praying for them, and talking about how we can pray for each other
- I also ask how I can pray for each person, this allows them a time to share what is on their mind
- Memorizing Scripture
- Daily Devotional
- Songs to start dinner time
- This is a fun way to call everyone to the table, family friends of ours passed on their fun songs they used to sing with their children, we then follow with prayer once everyone is seated
- Praying or reciting family liturgy
- Conversation starters
- Meal time is a wonderful way to connect with each other
- High-Low game, tell a “high” from your day and a “low” from your day
- other ideas: “What is something you learned today” “How did Jesus’ light shine through you or to you today”
- Meal time is a wonderful way to connect with each other
Discipleship Focus Activities
Discipleship should be in every part of your day, in everything you do. Sometimes it is easy to loose focus or get distracted, so our family has activities/scheduled times that are specifically focused on discipleship and learning about God.
- Tea Time
- One-on-one time with my daughter
- Discipleship Night
- A family fun night with a bible lesson, activities, songs, maybe a craft and snack too!
- We do this once a month or weekly
- Bible at bedtime
- Right now we are reading novels at bedtime, in the past we have read through a children’s bible, one story at a time
- We also have had times where I will pick a spiritual theme to work on, this theme will permeate through everything we do, our books we read, our scripture we memorize, our preschool lessons etc.
- themes we have done:
- loving others
- being a light
- holiday themes
- themes we have done:
Quiet Time/Rest Time
Quiet time teaches many valuable traits. We also use this time to help our children grow in the Lord. They have the option to listen to music or books during quiet time. They have a large assortment of christian music and a few short stories to listen too. There have been many times my children will sing the songs they listen to at quiet time or tell me about a story (like Father Abraham) they learned in a song.
During drive time we also listen to Christian music, we LOVE Seeds Family Worship, it is a great way to learn scripture. We also use this time to listen to audio books and pray for concerns that arise.
We see the opportunity to discipline and correct as a time to foster a spiritual understanding of the world for our children. Without sin in the world there would be no need to discipline.
- Understanding how God Made us
- We use this as a time to teach that we have a sinful nature, we identify sin when we see it (selfishness, greed, etc.)
- God made us emotional beings
- God Made us with emotions, we need to learn what our emotions are, how to communicate them in an appropriate way and how to control our emotions
- Our children also learn that mommy and daddy are emotional and that even God is emotional
- Understanding the Impact of our Actions- Every action has a consequence
- When disciplining and training our children we walk them through what their action was and the consequence, we also problem solve with them to determine if there could have been a different action with a better consequence
- God has specific instructions for us and for our actions, we use this as a time to teach these instructions. Some examples:
- Ephesians 4:23- Be Kind and compassionate and forgive others because Christ has forgiven us
- Mark 12: 30-31- Love God before everything and love our neighbors as ourselves
- Be a light for Jesus
- Take care of what God has given us
Holidays are a special time to give hope and joy as we look forward to celebration. This is often a time that traditions are talked about and passed down. The holidays we highly focus on are also a time to focus on God and who He is and what He has done.
We focus on Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas holidays as a time to teach and grow in the Lord. You can find more details on each of these in the following articles:
Relational Family Building Activities
We do many other activities together as a family that do not necessarily have a spiritual focus. However, as you will see above, through discipline and discipleship we try to focus on who God is and God’s purpose for us in everything we do.
- Family Game Night
- Reading and discussing books (picture books, novels, bible, etc.)
- Family walks
- Teaching life skills
- Listening to music-dancing and singing and playing music
- We work together as a family and we play together as a family
Get Started Now
Studies show that if you wait to start the chances of following through decrease, so schedule a time in your calendar in the next 2 weeks to meet with your spouse to get this plan going! Here is a worksheet I created to help you get started on your own Spiritual Leadership Plan for your nest:
Spiritual Leadership Plan Word Doc: spiritualleadershipplan
Spiritual Leadership Plan PDF: spiritualleadershipplan