It’s never too early to create an environment in which your children can grow to love Jesus and embrace His global purposes. Here are ways to begin cultivating a mission-minded heart in your children during their first two years of life.
Discover God’s Purpose for Families
With your spouse, learn more about your biblical role as parents. Think through this question together: What does God say about the purpose and role of family? Study Bible verses like these to find out: Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Psalm 78:1-7, Proverbs 22:6, and Ephesians 6:4.
Develop a Long-term Vision
Training your children in the ways of the Lord, and helping them develop into the people that God desires them to be, requires a long-term vision that sees beyond today. Talk through these questions with your spouse: What values mean the most to us as parents? What do we want to say about our son or daughter 20-30 years from now? Begin to create a plan for how you will guide your children toward these things.
Your child’s first two years are crucial to developing trust, a huge component of faith. Create a safe, loving, nurturing environment where your baby is able to thrive and grow. His earliest concepts of God are shaped by how you interact with him. If you consistently meet your baby’s needs in a loving way, he will learn that he can rely on those who care for him. This ability to trust will later transfer to a loving, faithful God.
Infuse Your Home with Jesus
Let your toddler see you reading your Bible and praying. Play worship music in your home. Sing simple songs to your baby as you feed her, rock her to sleep, or play. Tell Bible stories to your toddler, or read to her from brightly colored Bible storybooks.
Speak a blessing over your child before you put her to bed at night, using Scriptures like these: Psalm 63:3-4, Psalm 67, Isaiah 26:8, Ephesians 2:19, Colossians 3:12, 1 Timothy 4:12, and 2 Peter 3:18. Choose a life verse for your child. Display it near her bed and pray it over her often.
Build Spiritual Habits
Build spiritual habits into your family life. Read the Bible consistently, go to church together, pray at meals or bedtime, and give towards God’s work. Exposing your baby to these practices will help him be familiar with them when he gets older and can more easily understand what he is doing. As your child matures, these habits will become a natural part of life.
Cultivate Curiosity for God’s World
Seek opportunities to interact with and learn from people of different ethnic backgrounds. Introduce your baby or toddler to other cultures in simple ways. Play or sing a lullaby from another country to your baby before bedtime. Look for board books with pictures of babies or people from other countries. Babies love to look at faces. Find a variety of toys, fabrics, and scarves from other countries for sensory and tactile play. Introduce your toddler to food from other cultures.
Pave the Way for Blessing the Nations
Commit to raise your child according to God’s purposes. Seek God’s wisdom and trust Him to lead you as you disciple your child to know God and make Him known. Pray for your child regularly, asking God to shape his heart to have a passionate desire to join with God in blessing the nations.
With your spouse, learn about and pray for peoples with no access to the gospel. Include God’s global heart and purposes in your family discipleship plan. Create specific goals to aim towards as you disciple your child to love both the person and purposes of Jesus.