The do’s and don’ts of encouraging quiet time in the lives of our children.
By: Vanessa Bonilla
Disciple-making is a lot of work. Disciple-making under your own roof can feel impossible. I have found that one of the best ways to evaluate how I may be helping or hindering my children is by asking the hard questions. This time of questioning is a time to speak without reservation; my goal is to allow them the opportunity to get certain things off their chest, without the fear of disappointing me.
I recently talked with my two teenage daughters about their quiet time habits. I asked what I have done to help develop and encourage this habit and how I might have hurt the consistency of their time with Jesus. It was quite an enlightening conversation. I was reminded of how completely different my daughters are from one another and was given many ideas in how to help them. The following list of Do’s and Don’ts are from that conversation.
- Establish a designated TIME and PLACE – Both daughters said that although at first an assigned daily quiet time seemed like a chore, my oldest said that she eventually started to experience the benefit of consistent time in God’s presence.
- Explain the REASON for quiet time – My younger daughter said she needed to know the “why?” Why do I have to do this? Why daily? What’s the benefit?
I didn’t realize that, although I have spoken about this many times before, I had never taken the time to explain the reasons for daily time with Jesus with her specifically.
- Assure them that there is NO WRONG WAY to come to Christ – My younger daughter felt that she was doing quiet time wrong, because it didn’t look like mine, or her sisters, or her brothers. She felt that something was missing and that it was her fault.
- Give gentle REMINDERS – With school starting and the pressures that come with that, they found it very hard to keep the time set for them on a daily basis. They asked for gentle, grace-filled, reminders to usher them back on course.
- Provide them with TOOLS – It wasn’t until this talk that I became aware that I hadn’t even thought of getting them their own Quiet Time Companion; markers; highlighters; a helpful book; or a nice, new, exciting Bible. I was more inclined to do it for a friend then with my own in-house disciples.
- Ask what they got out of it – It was tempting to ask them “how’d it go”, or “what did you learn”, unfortunately asking such questions encourages a transactional encounter. My older daughter was beginning to feel like if she hadn’t “learned” something, being at His feet wasn’t enough.
- Leave them to find their own way – The word says to train up a child in the way they should go. I made the mistake of believing they didn’t need me to help them navigate quiet time since it’s a personal experience. However, helping them establish a quiet time is an opportunity to bond over the things of God and to engage with my girls as sisters in Christ.
- Give up on them – When I’m at the end of my own rope the last thing I want to do is deal with teen emotions. I don’t want to deal with the pulling close and pushing away, the highs and lows, and the confusion of finding their own identity, it’s so much sometimes. Nevertheless quitting is not an option.
At the end of my child’s day it won’t matter if I taught them all the knowledge this world has to offer. It won’t matter if I taught them how to be the best in every sport they’ve shown interest in. It won’t matter if I’ve given them every item they’ve ever desired. If I don’t show them how worth it is to love the Lord with all of their heart, all their soul, all their strength and all their mind everything else will be meaningless.
May the Lord direct you as you engage with your children, mentees, or friends. May our goal always be to share about Christ’s majestic, magnificent, unconditional, everlasting love and how being in communion with Him will always be the best thing we could ever do.
Vanessa is the daughter of a Pastor, baby of six and a homeschooling mom of five. Married to her wonderful husband of eight years, they serve in their local church together. She loves fresh fruit, nights by the fire pit, and time with friends and family. Vanessa has watched God do amazing things in her life. Assaulted at a young age, teen mom and the survivor of an abusive marriage left her life in pieces. Today she stands restored and uses the testimony of brokenness to help build others and encourage women to discover the fullness of a relationship with God.