2 Timothy 1 - The Goal of Parenting
ICEBREAKER: I want to be a _______ parent. How would you fill that blank in? What word would you fill in that blank to describe your parents?
- What is your goal of parenting? (Nathan’s definition was to produce mature, responsible, godly, adults). Without clarity on the goal, you’ll never know if you’re being successful or not.
-Read 2 Tim. 1:2. Paul spoke blessings and truth over his spiritual son. He believed in him, saw something special in him that he wanted to draw out. WORDS MATTER.
- What does it mean to speak life over your family? How can your words and belief in your kids alter their future (for the good of the bad)? Do you remember words from your childhood that proved that your parents believed in you?
-Read Proverbs 18:21 as King Solomon explains the power that you and I have in our words.
- What words and phrases build a child up, and give them life? What words or phrases tear them down and bring death?
-Read 2 Tim 1:3, and notice how Paul PRAYED CONSTANTLY for his spiritual son.
- How often do you pray for your kids? When you pray for them, what are you asking of God? If God answered all of the prayers you prayed about your children, how would their life be any different?
- Paul was thankful for Timothy, and was sure to tell him. Do you think it’s important for parents to tell their kids how thankful they are for them? What kind of heart are you cultivating in your child by parenting with a sense of gratitude?
-Read 2 Tim. 1:4 and see the emotion and affection that Paul had for Timothy. Paul had obviously INVESTED SELFLESSLY in his spiritual son over a long period of time.
- Other than providing for their physical needs, how are you investing selflessly into your children?
-Read 2 Timothy 1:5, and notice the lineage of spiritual ancestors that Timothy has in his mother and grandmother. They LEFT AN INHERITANCE to Timothy of true significance.
- When your kids are adults, how would LIKE this blank to be filled in: “My dad/mom was all about ________. I learned a lot about _________ from them.”
- Do an evaluation of your personal faith (all aspects of life, from generosity, service, and time management, to pray and Bible study and intimacy with God). Is the faith that you have worth modeling? Would you be proud of your kids spiritually if their relationship with God was just like yours? If not, what would you change?
- Everyone wants to teach their kids money management skills, people skill, and a hard work ethic. Most parents want to teach their kids how to be successful. But what are you doing to make sure you are making spiritual deposits into your children?
-Read 2 Tim 1:6, and watch how Paul looks back at his investment into Timothy. He is definitely PLAYING THE LONG GAME.
- What are things that you can do every day to fan the flame in the lives of your kids spiritually? Emotionally? Relationally?
1 Samuel 3 - It Starts with YOU
ICEBREAKER: Are there things that your kids are good at, enjoy, or show inclinations towards that are traits that they learned from you? Are your kids the opposite of you in any ways?
Read 1 Samuel 3:1-8
- Samuel didn’t realized it was the Lord that was speaking to him. If Eli didn’t know the Lord, then there would be no way he could help Samuel to move forward in his relationship with the Lord. How have you developed a real, personal relationship with the Lord?
- What are you telling your kids about God? How do you describe Him? What stories do you share about how God has personally impacted your life? More than just reading them stories in the Bible, parents can tell kids about their personal relationship with God!
(Personal story from Nathan: I grew up in church knowing who God was by reading the Bible and hearing sermons. Yet, it wasn’t until my dad began to explain to me that I could have a PERSONAL relationship with God through His Son that I gave my life to Jesus. My parents making God/Bible personal and applicable to my current life is what the Holy Spirit used to change my life!)
Read 1 Samuel 3:9-10
- Samuel didn’t know how to respond to God, so Eli taught him how. The process started by teaching Eli how to listen. As a parent, do you know how to listen to God? How do you decipher God’s voice in your life over all of the other voices?
(Personal note from Nathan: In my life, God often uses Christian men and woman with the gifts of wisdom and discernment to speak truth into my life concerning things I am going through. That’s why being in Christian community is so important! You and I NEED people in our lives that love us, love God, and are filled with wisdom and discernment to help us decipher what God is trying to do and tell us in our lives today.)
- Parents often teach their kids how to pray by giving them phrases, general themes, or memorized prayers to recite. Yet, speaking to God is only half of what prayer is all about! How do you teach a child to listen to God and hear His voice? (Community, searching the Scriptures, listening in prayer, Holy Spirit, etc).
Read 1 Samuel 3:11-18
- Samuel didn’t know what to do with what he heard, so Eli taught him how to apply the Word from the Lord to his life. Many people are satisfied with learning more about God, but never allowing it to change their life through an act of obedient response. As a parent, how much of your focus is on APPLYING God’s word to life instead of just LEARNING about God and the stories of the Bible?
- What Eli knew and had experienced was passed on to Samuel. Take a minute and make a spiritual list of the things that you want to pass on to your kids.
Tips on how to help your kids recognize and discern the voice of God:
- Spend time in the Bible together as a family
- Help your kids develop their own love for and time in the Word
- Choose an age-appropriate Bible from which to read together.
- Buy a family devotion book with short, daily passages of Scripture to read around the table.
1 Samuel 1 - Dealing with Discouragement
ICEBREAKER: Parenting feels like riding on a roller coaster: sit down, strap in, hold on, and try to make it to the end without throwing up! Share one of the recent “highs” you’ve had as a parent lately. What was a “low” you had to struggle through?
Read 1 Samuel 1:1-6
- The road to discouragement as a parent often starts with the comparison trap. As a parent, in what ways do you compare yourself with other moms and dads?
- What ways do you compare your kids with other kids?
- The cure for the comparison trap is to have the right perspective with your kids. Instead of comparing your family to other families, what part of your life and family can be celebrated and highlighted?
Read 1 Samuel 1:7-8
- Has a parent/spouse ever tried to console you or help you through a difficult season, only to make it worse? (At least you have me, Hannah!). What are some helpful things people have done to support you through discouragements and hard times you’ve experienced in life?
- Comparison always leads to discontentment, mainly because we always compare ourselves with people that have MORE than we do. What areas of your life and parenting are you feeling a sense of discontentment over? Is discontentment a healthy or unhelpful feeling?
- The cure for discontentment is gratitude. Sure, you can always focus on what you don’t have or how things could get better; nevertheless, there are many things in the life of your family that you can be thankful for. What are those things?
(Personal Note from Nathan: When I see a small child confined to a wheelchair, the same thought always crosses my mind: God, you have been so gracious to me in my life and family. Having the right perspective totally changes my heart from what I don’t have and the problems that I am facing, to the grace that has been shown to me and how lucky I am as a parent. Forgive me Lord, and thank you!)
Read 1 Samuel 1:9-16
- Comparison leads to discontentment, and discontentment leads to discouragement. When you are discouraged, what kind of physical/emotional/mental toll does it take on you as a parent?
- Notice that Hannah took her problems and feelings to the Lord in prayer. What is your response when you face a time of discouragement? (self-pity, go to spouse, shut down, get overly emotional, anxiety/depression, talk with friends, pray, search the Scriptures).
- The priest encouraged Hannah by speaking a blessing over her and reminding her of who God is. As a parent, how can you be a source of encouragement to your spouse during a hard time? How can you encourage your kids when they are facing discouragement?
Proverbs 3, 22, and 23 - Discipline Your Kids (Part 1)
ICEBREAKER: What was your parent’s favorite form of discipline? (Grounding/Restriction, Taking something away from you, or maybe spanking? Bonus points for sharing what you were spanked with: paddle, switch, belt, hand)
Read Proverbs 22:15 and Proverbs 23:13-14.
- Kids that don’t get disciplined by their parents are easy to spot in public. What do these verses say about discipline, and what does it produce in the life of a child
- Punishment is penalizing your kids for a past mistake. Discipline is correcting your kids to ensure future success. Growing up, where you punished or disciplined? How can you tell the difference?
(Personal note from Nathan: What’s the purpose behind your actions? If you want to make your kids feel bad about what they did, then that’s punishment. If you are trying to help them NOT repeat an action in the future, then that’s discipline. Ask yourself, “What am I trying to accomplish in this?”)
Read Proverbs 3:11-12
- Discipline is something that LOVING parents do for their kids. When you are talking about or actually giving discipline to your kids, what are the most common emotions shown by you as a parent? How about the emotions of your kids?
(Personal Note from Nathan: I try to never discipline my kids when I’m angry. It’s easy to get caught up in the emotions and punish my kids based on how I feel in the moment. Next time you have to discipline your kids, try sending them to their room first and telling them to wait on your there. That will give you some time to calm down, think though what you want to say to them, and ultimately move from the anger of punishment to the love of discipline.)
- In the video, we identified 3 big areas of failure in life that cause parents to need to discipline their kids: being disrespectful, being unreliable, and being irresponsible. Are there any other root areas that you would add? Give example of different things in the life of your kids that illustrate these key areas.
- Out of the 3 listed below, what areas did you struggle with the most growing up? How about your kids?
A- Respect- value everyone, regardless of their race, gender, background, or upbringing.
B- Reliable- be dependable, trustworthy, honest, and a person of integrity.
C- Responsible- take responsibility for your own actions, don’t blame others, ignore your problems, or pretend like the consequences in life are no big deal.
- A parent oftentimes has to discipline a kid as a result of a failure. How can you use discipline as a teaching tool to make your kids more resilient in life instead of just reminding them of their past mistakes?
(Personal Note from Nathan: Great discipline always comes with a “talk.” I want to make sure my kids are fully aware of what they did, why it was wrong, the consequences of the actions, and why continuing to repeat the action is harmful for them and their future. Don’t assume your kids know all of those things, thus skipping straight to the spanking or grounding.)
Read Proverbs 22:6
- Solomon makes it clear that there is a RIGHT path and a WRONG path for kids to take in life. Have you sat down with your spouse and defined the path that you want your kids to take? Take some time to identify some adjectives that you want to describe your family. Try writing a family creed (or motto) and have a goal in front of you and your kids as you move forward together.
(Warning from Nathan: I know “free range” parenting is extremely popular. Parents like to say things like, “I want my kids to make their own choices and find their own path without me telling them where to go.” It sounds great, but it’s IMPOSSIBLE. Please hear me on this: If you don’t set your kids on a path, then someone/something else will! Kids are desperate for direction and leadership in life. If they don’t find it from you, then they will go to other adults/kids/culture. Don’t forsake the responsibility that God has given YOU as parents. Train up a child and show them the right path!!)
Mark 10:13-16 - Jesus, the Fun Uncle
Icebreaker: Did you have a “fun” parent growing up? In your marriage, is one person the “fun” parent more so than the other? If you had a fun Uncle of parenting growing up, what did they do to earn that title?
Read Mark 10:13-16
- The disciples thought that kids were an interruption, but Jesus knew they were important. How do you communicate to your kids that they are important and not just an interruption in your adult life?
- Jesus made sure to engage kids on their level and met them where they were. How do you engage kids at the different levels of their life? Take a minute to share what age group your kids are in and how parents can successfully engage kids at that age level.
- Take some time to make a list of how you can engage your kids on their level in these categories: daily, weekly, monthly, annually.
- Jesus spoke well of the kids he encountered. What goes through your mind as you hear a parent that is constantly bad-mouthing and tearing down their kids, either to their face or behind their back to others parents? What do you think Jesus’ response would have been to that kind of conversation?
- Why is it so much easier for parents to use our words to correct and reprimand instead of building up and encourage? What are ways that you can look for to affirm your kids? Share some specific examples.
- Jesus blessed the kids that were with him. How are you blessing your kids on a routine basis (think beyond “food on the table and roof over their head”)? How can you use your words, your actions, and your encouragement to be a blessing in the life of your kids for years to come?
- What are the top 3 actions steps you need to take this week to be more like Jesus in your parenting?
Ephesians 6 - Discipline Your Kids (Part 2)
-What did discipline (or maybe punishment!) look like in your home? What was the worst way for your parents to punish you growing up?
-How has your current approach to discipline and punishment changed since you’ve become a parent?
- What’s the difference between discipline and punishment? Why is it so much easier to punish a child one time than to discipline them over their entire life?
- Take a look at the 4 R’s that Pastor Nathan shared and talk about how you have helped to train and discipline your kids in these areas.
- Be Respectful
- Be Reliable
- Be Responsible
- Be Resilient
- Choose one from the list and share why you think it’s the most important for kids to learn.
- A parent’s responsibility is to prepare their kids for the life that is front of them. Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 that the Christian life is like a war or a battle and that we need to put on the Armor of God to be ready to face what life throws at us.
Take a look at the parts of armor and talk about how you can discipline and train your kids to be prepared in each area.
- Belt of truth (teach them character and integrity)
- Breastplate of righteousness (teach them how to be “right” in the eyes of God, protecting their soul)
- Shoes (teach them to share their faith and tell other people about Jesus)
- Shield of faith (teach them to have a strong and personal faith to defeat the arrows of doubt and accusation)
- Helmet of Salvation (teach them that if everything else fails, you can still trust God with your life and your eternity)
- Sword of the Spirit (teach them the Word)
Luke 2:41-52 - CONNECT with your KIDS
Look at each part of the CONNECT examples again:
- Clean the slate
- Open your eyes
- Notice their progress
- Neglect the small stuff
- Express your love in their language
- Create Memories
- Talk with you kids
- Which of these come easily or naturally for you as a parent?
- Which ones are the toughest for you?
- Which one or two will you commit to improving on this week?
- What is your love language, and what is the love language of your kids?
- How do conversations go with your kids? What have you found that they like to talk about that can segway into more meaningful conversations?
Do you know another parent that is good in one of your weaker areas that you can call and talk with this week? Mentors are a great tool for parents to have in their life!
Here’s an idea: Assign a certain number from the CONNECT list to a specific day of the week. That way, you can connect with your kids on every level once every week! (e.g., every Monday you are going to clean the slate, asking God to forgive you for your parenting mistakes, forgive your kids for their mistakes, and teach your kids about confessing and repenting.
2 Corinthians 9:24-27
Exodus 32:1-6 - Tech & Parenting
- How can tech/media help us run the race described by Paul in Philippians and 2 Corinthians?
- How does tech distract us or derail our purpose as Christians and parents?
- Go through the 8 steps below and share ideas on how you are doing that in your family, lessons you’ve learned, and ways you can make it better:
A- Have a plan for tech in your family
B- Treat tech and media like every other environment that your kids use
D- Do screen time together
E- Be a good role model
F- Create tech-free zones
G- Do your homework
H- Redeem tech by leveraging it for Gospel purposes
Proverbs 24:3, Luke 2:52, Deuteronomy 6:7, Proverbs 14:26, Psalm 127:3, Ecclesiastes 11:8, Mark 8:36, and Joshua 24:25 - Healthy, Not Perfect
- When you were pregnant, your wish was to have a healthy child. So now that your kids have been born, what does a healthy family look like? What is your definition of health?
- The first essential for a health family is to prepare for your kids for life. Here are 3 areas in which you can prepare your kids.
A. Prepare them to have good relationships. How do you talk to your kids about forgiveness, handling conflict, meeting new people, and being a good friend?
B. Prepare them by building their character. Character is more caught that taught, so what is your life/speech/attitude teaching your kids about character and integrity?
C. Prepare them by establishing their values in life. What values are you communicating to your kids based on how you spend your time and money? What will they SEE is of high value based on your actions?
- If you don’t teach your kids that God is a value in their life, then they’ll grow up thinking that God is simply optional. So how do you instill that value in them? How do you use your words, actions, attitudes, and habits to do this?
- What is a storm that you have helped your kids navigate through?
- Where do your kids go to for strength and refuge? How can you teach them that God will be a source for them throughout their life?
- Three storms that were listed that kids go through are change, failure, and rejection. What other storms have you had to help your kids through?
- Here are a few ways to help your kids in the storm.
A. Listen to them. Just hear them out.
B. Love them. Hugs and physical touch offer comfort during difficulties.
C. Help them. Teach them that you as their parent can be a partner in life with them, not matter what they face. Show your kids how to make things right when they go wrong, and put them on the right path moving forward.
What other ways can you help kids during a storm?
- Kids love to have fun, and in order to have a healthy family dynamic the home needs to be a place that happens as well. What are ways that you can ensure that your parenting isn’t all about rules and homework and chores? Do you know how each kids has fun, and have you built that into your schedule as a family?
- The last point is pointing your kids towards God. How are you pointing your kids towards God in the following areas:
A. your money
B. your time
C. your priorities
D. your words
E. your involvement at church
F. your personal spiritual health