Pointing your preschooler to Jesus

Written by Josh Miller
Published on June 01, 2021

I never really thought about it when my wife and I decided to have kids, but within that decision, we were essentially signing up to become teachers, life coaches, bodyguards, nutritionists, spiritual directors, and even lifeguards. Parenting is one of the most complex jobs you will ever have!

Fast forward to today, as a parent of a couple of young boys, I’ve been grateful that so far they appear to be on a trajectory towards being kind and loving human beings (although some days I question everything)! They eat a decent amount of vegetables, they’re certainly getting smarter, and are even learning how to swim (sort of).

Yet in the back of my mind, I’ve still had questions about how to best lead my kids towards Jesus.

 

We’ve done some of the basics like take them to church, either in-person or virtually, tried to consistently pray at dinner and bedtime, and even added books like the Storybook Bible to our reading times. Yet even with some of those things, I’ve wondered if I’m doing enough. Should they be showing more signs of spiritual growth like they are in other areas of development?

One day I was talking to our oldest and we somehow stumbled into a spiritual conversation. I was hopeful that maybe something was beginning to click! Yet just as quickly as the conversation had deepened, it took a quick left turn towards rocket ships and space. The moment was gone. Did I mess up the opportunity?

Parenting is full of questions like that. It’s also full of successes, mistakes, and a constant need to adjust to changing circumstances, ages, and needs. It can be easy as parents to put a lot of weight on specific moments in time and how we handled them. But one of the things I’ve begun to learn is that parenting is less about the success or failure of specific moments, and more about sustained effort over the long haul.

If we rightly desire to point our kids towards Jesus, we need to remember that this is only the beginning of a long journey.

 

The reality is, my pre-school boys may not be ready to process deep theology or abstract spiritual concepts at this age. They may not process things in the Bible quite like they would learn their ABC’s. And although I believe we need to teach our kids about Jesus, I’m learning that it’s even more important to SHOW them what following Jesus looks like.

We know that kids learn from watching. They learn from mimicking. They learn from following. So let me encourage you with this…

Yes, you can teach them to pray. But more importantly, let them see you praying.

Yes, you can teach them about the Bible. But more importantly, let them see you reading it.

Yes, you can teach them about the fruits of the spirit. But more importantly, let them see the fruits of the spirit present in your life.

When we’ve been faithful to plant those little seeds, we can trust that God will begin to grow them over time.

 

When I look back at my childhood, some of the greatest influences in my life were not people that taught me a lot of information about Jesus. The greatest influences were those that I watched follow Jesus closely. And that’s something that we can do even with our young kids.

I hope someday my children look back and say that I taught them a lot, but more importantly, I want them to look back and say that I lived what I taught.

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Josh Miller

Josh Miller has been a musician, filmmaker, restaurant manager, songwriter, barista, worship leader, pastor, husband, and father, and is still trying to figure out who the heck he is. He and his wife Deven live in Plano, TX with their two young boys.

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