Our world talks a lot about the soul. You can eat soul food while listening to soul music and looking into the eyes of someone you love because the eyes are the windows to the soul. When people are in trouble they send out an S.O.S. which means “save our souls.” Christian evangelists are even called soul winners.
But what does the Bible have to say about the soul? Perhaps the most famous statement about the soul is a quote from Jesus in Matthew 16:26: “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” What Jesus is saying is that investing all your energy into your outer life is a complete waste of time if you have neglected your inner life. When this happens, people can sense it. They say they feel soulless and empty. People who know them ask if they have lost their soul.
Jesus’ point is very simple: life is not mainly about what you have, where you go, what you achieve, who you know, or what awards you receive. Life is first and foremost about what you and your soul become.
The same is true of your child. The most important part of your child is their soul. It is their soul that will live long after their body is deceased. In fact, it is often when the body is dying that the soul really starts shining.
Our family has been blessed with some loving and healthy relationships with some godly families over the years. One of our favorite families has a few children with physical disabilities. These children cannot run and play like typical kids. Despite having unhealthy bodies, these kids have incredibly healthy souls. They know God’s love at the deepest level, love others deeply, have great empathy and compassion, and are actually really good at being silly, having fun, and goofing around in godly ways.
The parents of these children have healthy souls that live in God’s presence and experience God’s peace.
The parents have wisely focused not only on the many physical needs of the children, but more importantly on investing in, cultivating, encouraging, and nurturing the souls of their children. They have also encouraged their children to nurture their own souls in relationship with God. The soul has to be the first priority of parenting. If their soul is well, they will be well, even if all else is unwell. Conversely, if their soul is unwell, they will be unwell, even if all in their life is well. Here are some very practical ways to cultivate the soul of your child:
- Be in prayer for the soul of your child. Regularly invite God the Holy Spirit to be at work in their soul.
- Teach your child that they have a soul that God made to have a forever relationship with Him.
- Help your child learn to pray in a loving, encouraging, and conversational way for themselves and others. Bedtime each night can be a good time to form this daily habit.
- Read the Bible with them when they are little, and as they get older encourage them to read the Bible for themselves. It helps when the kids are little to make this fun so that it is memorable. This can include reading the stories out of a kids’ Bible study with funny character voices. Or, having the child and other family members dress up to act out Bible stories in a fun way.
- Help your child learn to worship God by finding worship music they enjoy and letting them listen to it in the car, in the house, and throughout the day. If you can find some songs that the child likes but also helps them memorize Scripture,that is beneficial.
- Raise the child in a healthy Bible based church where they see other families growing in their love for God.
- On the way home from church, ask the child what they learned and what their takeaway was. Listening carefully and asking a few follow up questions will help you draw out what the child is thinking and how they are processing.
- Keep a Bible at your dining room table, read a verse or two over dinner, and have a free flowing conversation about what that means. Let everyone in the family be involved in the discussion and stop to pray for people and things as is needed.
- When you are wrong, confess your own sin to the child showing that your soul also belongs to God and that acknowledging wrongdoing is a healthy thing for big people and little people to do.
- As God the Holy Spirit brings things to memory, share with your child parts of your testimony. Let them know the ways God has changed you, protected you, and cared for your soul.
How is your soul? How can you better care for your soul? How is your child’s soul? How can you better care for your child’s soul?