I really do love to read God’s word. It is wonderful to get up every morning and spend time in the Bible. It wasn’t always like that for me. I have learned that you can’t give something to your kids that you don’t have for yourself. I had to work on feeling the right way about it myself.
Learn to love His word for yourself. For a long time, reading the Bible was a checklist item when I was growing up. It felt like an obligation or a duty rooted in a fear that I would be a bad Christian if I didn’t read it every day. That is not a live-giving way to approach God’s word. So after I got married, I took a break from that approach so that I could change how I approached it. I wanted to read the Bible because I loved it, because it meant so much to me and because it was life to me. One day, I went into my backyard and told God that I needed to get out of that mentality and I couldn’t do it myself and would He please wake me up every morning before my kids woke up so we could spend time together? My job would be to get up at whatever time that was and open my Bible. For the next five years He woke me up somewhere between 2-6 AM and I would jump into His word. After five years, I could set my alarm again because my baggage was gone and my love for getting to read His word was my motivator.
Get caught reading it. When my kids were little and even now, if they walk into our bedroom in the morning, they are more than likely to catch my husband and I in bed reading our Bibles next to each other. Sometimes they would snuggle in between us while we were reading. Sometimes I would read them a verse or two if they were there and we would talk about it but mostly they just watched us reading.
Talk about what you are reading. My husband and I talk about what we are reading during the day. Sometimes our kids overhear us. I think it made them curious to read the Bible that meant so much to us that we would talk about it. Sometimes they would join in the conversation if they knew the story. That became motivational for them to be part of the conversation; and of course, you have to read the book to talk about it.
Set them on a path to read it on their own. This was the most challenging one to do but made a huge difference. When they were able to read short chapter books, I encouraged them to read the Bible for themselves. They got to pick which book of the Bible they wanted to read. Then I sat with them daily for the first six months to read with them. When my kids were young and I was working with the oldest on this, it felt crazy. But I committed to prioritize this for a period of time to help them see how important it was. Sometimes we talked about it during the day. After six months, they were ready to fly solo and they did.
Now I have three teenagers who like to read God’s word and I overhear them talking about what they are reading with each other. We have never approached it as a checklist and I don’t know if they read it every single day but I do know that it makes a difference in their lives. I see Him changing them through what they read. And they read it because they want to and it is important to them.
Laura Elliott is the Editorial Director of Pioneer Clubs. She has experience in teaching (7 years), editing (16 years), children’s ministry (30 years), and being a mom to three kids (18 years). She loves thinking about how to introduce children to Jesus , and how to partner with parents and the church to create an environment in both places where dynamic faith can grow.