It’s amazing the lengths we will go to protect our kids. We strap them into car seats to protect their bodies, give them bike helmets to protect their heads and slather them up with sunscreen to protect their skin. We shop for organic food and check ingredient lists. We tell them to look both ways before they cross the street, don’t run with scissors and never ever take candy from strangers.
All good things.
The Bible, however, says that when it comes to protection, our number one concern should be our hearts. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (NIV). Above all else.
Why above all else? Because the heart is the wellspring of our lives. Everything flows out of that. As the New Living Translation put it, “it determines the course of your life.” If we want our kids to have lives that honor God and bring them joy, we need to teach them to pay attention to what’s going on inside.
Of course this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t protect our kids physically, but it does remind us that we should be teaching them to guarding their hearts with at least as much effort as we teach them to wear a helmet or buckle up.
In his book called Enemies of the Heart, Andy Stanley says, “One of the best ways to train our children to guard their hearts is by asking questions.”
According to Stanley our questions not only show our kids that the condition of their heart matters, but it shows them how to examine their own hearts to see if there are issues they need to deal with.
In the book Andy talks about a bedtime routine he established with his kids and some of the questions he used with them to begin training them to think about matters of the heart. Here are some of the questions he lists:
- “Is everything okay in your heart?”
- “Are you mad at anybody?”
- “Did anybody hurt your feelings today?”
- “Did anybody break a promise to you today?”
- “Is there anything you need to tell me?”
- “Are you worried about anything?”
You can imagine how over time, asking questions like these would spark conversations that can help us get our kids thinking about the condition of their hearts and the work God wants to do there to center their lives on Him.
So give them a shot. Try one of Andy’s questions or some of your own at bedtime tonight and see where it leads.