A Child's Spiritual Diet

Spiritual Need

If I were to ask you, “What are the basic needs you child has?”  How would you answer?

Many would respond with the basic survival needs: food, water, shelter, clothing, sleep.  In recent times, psychology has informed the public that children need much more than that.  For example, they need to experience love and physical affection.  Researchers have found that the physical health of babies deprived of love and affection (but have every other need met) is significantly less than babies who are provided with all of their basic needs including love and affection.

However, what I'm going to argue in this post is that there is a need that your children have that transcends their physical and even their psychological needs.  

Jesus communicated this need, this spiritual need, often times by using analogy.  He would liken our greatest need to those physical needs without which our bodies would die.  He did this to communicate that without this spiritual need of ours, our souls are as good as dead. But as Jesus describes our spiritual need, He makes a important comparison between it and our physical needs.
 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
- John 4:13-14
 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst..."
- John 6:35
 When we are hungry and partake of bread and water, we are momentarily satisfied but will need to eat and drink again to sustain our bodies.  This is the nature of physical provisions meeting physical needs.  The satisfaction is only momentary.  

Not so with Jesus. When we look to Him, He will provide our souls with an everlasting satisfaction.  Christ saves to the uttermost (Heb. 7:25).  We will never need to look for another source to care for our souls again. When we depend upon Christ, we experience Him as a spring of eternal life dwelling within.
However important and essential it is for parents to meet the physical needs of their children, those provisions will not last.  Children have a need greater than physical life and flourishing; their greatest need is spiritual life and spiritual flourishing.  This only comes through faith in Jesus Christ.

Spiritual Intake

The years that you have your children are the most formative years of their entire lives.  During childhood and adolescence they are malleable and  influenceable.  What takes place during these years often sets the trajectory of the rest of their lives.  With that said, during the average school-year, this is what your child’s life looks like:
Each year, students are required to spend 900 - 1000 hours of instructional time. That translates into 14% of their lives from K - 12th grade.

It is recommended that children receive 8 hr of sleep each night. That translates into 33% of their lives.

If children and students attends 4 church services a week without ever missing a service, they will spend 2.4% of their lives being discipled in church.

Your Time

School and sleep are by far the largest commitments. However, there is a lot of time left in which you can have an influence. In fact, the time that is left over amounts to 50.3% of their lives.

Positioned & Appointed

If this glance at a child's life tells us anything, it reveals that the home is where kids spend the most amount of time. Parents, therefore, are divinely positioned by God to have the greatest impact on kids. Parents, you can do what I - as a student pastor - never will be able to do. I only get 2.4% of their time (if they attend church every time the doors are open). I cannot possibly fight back what some of them are taught or exposed to in a secular school environment (which receives 14% of their time!).  I cannot provide them with the primary spiritual sustenance they need, the discipleship "main course," if you will.  I'm not positioned by God to be able to do that.  The reason why I'm not positioned in their lives to be their primary disciple-makers is because I'm not the one appointed.

God has divinely appointed parents to be their child's primary disciple-makers.  

Listen to the words of Moses in Deuteronomy 6:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."
  - Deuteronomy 6:4-9

The Lord has appointed and positioned you to be your child's primary disciple-maker. The only way that they can have their spiritual need met is by you sharing Christ, the source of all life, with them.
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