Teaching Kids: Joy
Children are born with a certain innocence. We know they are born sinners, but they have this great desire for joy and goodness that can only be diminished and marred with age. How do we keep this childlike desire for joy strong in our children? How do we teach them to seek joy and live in the joy of the Lord?
I once read, “A child who sings is a happy child,” (Elder Enrique Falabella) and I chuckled and thought that my boys must be the happiest children to ever walk the earth! My boys sing songs all day, hum jingles from commercials, and make up their own little songs to narrate their play. One of my favorite things is to hear them singing worship songs or Scripture songs. Even though some of the truths may be difficult for them to comprehend, they are hiding God’s Word in their hearts (Psalm 119:11) and that will not return void (Isaiah 55:11). Our children learn so much through song and rhyme (ex. ABC’s or nursery rhymes), why would we not utilize this avenue for teaching them the joy of the Lord?
Do you realize how many biblical truths, or even straight Scripture, are hidden in popular children’s Sunday School songs? I grew up singing, “The joooy of the Looord is my strength. The joooy of. The Looord is my strength. The joooy of the Looord is my strength. The joy of the Lord is my strength.” That truth has stayed firmly planted in my heart and is now my anthem from Nehemiah 8:10. I also grew up listening to Steve Green’s “Hide ‘Em In Your Heart” albums, which are Scripture set to song. My boys sing along with these in the car and at home we open the Bible to find these verses. There are many other musical albums available that are word for word Scripture and doctrine and this is an easy way to sow seeds of truth into the hearts and minds of children.
There is a whole book of the Bible devoted to praising God. In fact, it is the largest book of the Bible! The Psalms teach us to praise the Lord in our triumphs and to praise Him in our weakness. Psalm 71:23 says, “My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed.” Regardless of our circumstances, we praise Christ our Savior who has eternally redeemed our souls. The Psalmist also reminds us to, “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into His presence with singing!” (Psalm 100:1-2) God is the Creator and Sustainer of all the universe. When we rightly view Him, our hearts must make a joyful noise in response.
“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24) Every morning is a new opportunity to praise the Lord. Pretty much every morning, our family gets in the car to go to school or church. We use this opportunity to listen to praise music to calm our hearts and minds for the day. Starting the day off with the joy of the Lord is the best defense against bad attitudes and selfish motivations. I challenge you to listen to Scripture or worship music and maintain a negative posture. Our whole lives are to be lived in worship to our Savior, but music is an expression of worship that stirs our emotions. On your morning commute, turn up the praise and feel the frustration of little hands slowly putting on little shoes drain away as you remember that this is the day that the Lord has made.
To properly teach our children the joy of the Lord, we must teach our them about who God is. We teach them the Word and it assures them, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17) The Lord desires for us to have complete joy in Him so that we might glorify His name, which gives Him great joy over us. The Author and Finisher of our faith puts the song in our hearts and by teaching our children to praise His name we enter into proper worship.
To teach our children joy, let us use the basic elements of learning. While we teach them to “clean up clean up, everybody everywhere,” let us also teach them that “my God is so big, so strong and so mighty there’s nothing my God cannot do.” While we teach them that “this is the way we wash our hands wash our hands wash our hands,” let us also teach them that “This is the day this is the day that the Lord has made that the Lord has made.”