How to Teach Kids to Live Free From Fear
Do kids worry? You bet they do! And it robs them of the joy God has planned for them. Fearless living isn't some kind of ethereal mystery! There are steps we can take; God's word tells us how. We must teach it to our kids and model it for them. (Of course, we leaders have to own it before we can do either.)
Do kids worry? You bet they do! And it robs them of the joy God has planned for them. We created a lesson in our curriculum around the principle of "dump and fill." It goes like this: When fear (also known as worry) has a grip on you, dump the lie you are believing and fill your mind with God's truth.
Fear and Faith are opposites. Like any good opposites, the two things must be in the same category. For example, big and small are opposites because they are both in the category of size; rich and poor are opposites because these two extremes belong in the wealth category.
(Jesus) replied, “Your faith is so small! Why are you so afraid?” – Matthew 8:26a
Fear and Faith both reside in the category of imagining what will happen in the future. Think about it. When our minds give way to fear, we imagine something in the future (be it next year or next hour) and project a dreadful, negative, not-at-all-good-for-me outcome. But, quite the opposite, when I am filled with faith, I will imagine the same future with the belief that God won't allow anything that is not ultimately for my good (Romans 8:28). In fact, He will take anything that is intended for bad and flip it around to benefit His people and His kingdom (Genesis 50:20). We have a God who can do that! He can do that whether we believe it or not. But when we believe, we spare ourselves hours of stress and worry, and even sometimes making terrible decisions out of our fear.
There is no end to the benefits of living a life full of faith–not the least of which is that it pleases God (Genesis 15:6). We want to pass this kind of faith onto our kids. Just imagine the next generation rising up, certain that the almighty Creator God is their biggest Advocate and Champion–knowing that no matter what happens, God is working for their good.
And because kids are so literal, we literally walk them through each step, helping them recognize the lies that have taken root, dump them out, and fill their mind with truth. It works like this: When you are worried, ask God to reveal the root of your fear. For example, a child might lose sleep worrying about the first day of school, afraid they won't have any friends in their new class. The true root of their worry is the fear of loneliness. So we coach the child to confess that fear to God. "Lord, I have knots in my stomach about school. I'm really afraid that I won't know anyone in my class and I will feel all alone and sad." That's thedump step. But a mind doesn't remain empty! We need to fill it with truth or the enemy will fill it back up with more lies. So we search God's word to see what He says about being alone. "This is my command–be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9) What a beautiful promise! So we encourage the child to meditate over this verse–write it on your mirror, read it at night, keep it in your book bag, memorize it. That's the fill part. A mind that is filled with God's truth has no room for worry. Our small group discussion goes on to address each child's personal concerns, and they go home with real, tangible tools to implement this method in their lives every day.
Fearless living isn't some kind of ethereal mystery! There are steps we can take; God's word tells us how. We must teach it to our kids and model it for them. (Of course, we leaders have to own it before we can do either.) So here’s to a throng of leaders firmly trusting God's promises, raising up a new generation of faith-filled followers!
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