Years ago, I heard a wonderful speaker who encouraged dads and moms when they’re eating around the table with their children to, “feed their bellies, feed their souls.” Meaning, take full advantage of the time you have when your kids are happy eating and bring up conversations about Jesus.
It’s a perfect time while they’re feeling satisfied with their food and sitting down. It’s a perfect time to engage and let them know what matters most to you. Your conversations don’t have to be long and drawn out.
My husband’s uncle growing up had a more formal time of devotional time with his children at the table. He would go through a book of the Bible and share what the scriptures meant to his kids, and then ask questions.
Some families read a devotional with their kids just before bed and choose a devotional book that is short and sweet. Some families have a time of prayer – allowing their children to pray for the needs of the day out loud. Some families memorize Scripture together or have some sort of challenge among their kids to earn a reward.
Every family is different and there’s no set rules or formulas on how to bring Jesus into our lives each day. The important thing is to be intentional.
The beautiful thing about bringing up conversations about Jesus around the table is that it becomes like a discipline every day since everyone has to eat! Whether your kids are toddlers or teens, we all have at least five minutes in our day.
Here are some questions you might consider asking your kids while you’re feeding their bellies:
1.) What is one special thing God showed you today?
2.) Name two things you are thankful for today.
3.) What were some of your challenges today and how do you think God can help you overcome them?
4.) What are some ways we can be the hands and feet of Christ and help someone we know who’s in need?
While you’re feeding their bellies, also find ways to build into their personhood and character. Ie:
“John, I really appreciate how you helped me unload the dishwasher today.”
“Rebekah, thank you for thinking of your sister when she needed someone to play with.”
“Hannah, I’m really proud of how you included your friends today.”
“Will, Dad and Mom are so glad to see you working hard and being respectful.”
It’s way too easy to harp on or criticize your kids on what needs correction. It takes intentionality to build our children up and praise their behavior. And it’s amazing how far a little praise will go, rather than constant critiquing. It also teaches them how to build up and encourage others in their life.
I hope this idea of “feed their bellies, feed their souls,” will stick with you and bring a lot of joy and hope into your family life.
A few of our kids’ favorite devotionals:
Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife and mom to 4. She is the author of Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches. Her writing appears regularly on Her View From Home, TODAY Parenting, and For the Family. Connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.