Why Teach Children Reverence?
Reverence allows us, as well as those around us, to feel the Spirit of God. The Spirit is often soft, gentle and quiet. Soft, gentle and quiet are difficult hear in the midst of hustle and bustle, loud noises or blaring music. Children need to learn to “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalms 46:10) Joyful praise is wonderful, and children need to have fun when experiencing things of God, but it is also important that they know when to be reverent.
Reverence is called for in other, less religious situations. Doctor’s offices require a level of reverence. The children must be calm and well behaved, even if they are playing with doctor’s office toys. It is a good thing for families to visit the elderly, either in their homes or in a nursing home. How important is reverence in these situations? Eventually, their education will require an amount of reverence in being still in order to hear the instruction of a teacher.
Reverence requires self-control. What child does not need to learn self-control? I can think of a few adults that need to learn some! (Confession – sometimes it’s ME!) Self-control washes over every thing we do as humans. We must control our diet, our exercise, our health. We must control how we spend our time so as not to become idle, as did David, or to fill our time with things of no worth. We must control our tongues, our actions, even our thoughts. Lack of self-control can lead to poor health, poor judgement, and general unhappiness. By teaching our children reverence, we are setting them on a path to overall well-being.
How to Teach Reverence
As with all things, there are about as many ways to teach children reverence as there are children. Obviously, their age, attention span, abilities and limitations must be taken into account.
Plan a family-night centered around whispering and how they can hear your instructions better if they are quiet. Set up an obstacle course, blindfold a child, and then have them listen for you to guide them through the course. The key is for them to be still and listen -because you are only going to whisper. The other children waiting for their turn, must also be quiet so that the player can hear. Moral: We must be quiet to hear direction from the Lord and others, and we also must be quiet so we do not impede another person’s ability to receive direction.
Have “Reverence Time” every day. Set a timer for an appropriate time for your child, and tell them they must practice being still and quiet until the bell rings. Be sure to have them go to the restroom before you start. Extend the time gradually until they can sit through an entire worship service, doctor’s appointment or visit with the elderly. To make this more realistic, have special things that the children are only allowed to have during reverence time. This could be a quiet book, a quiet toy, drawing materials, etc. or anything that you deem appropriate for a reverent situation. You might have a special bag only for church, another for the doctor’s office and yet another for visiting friends and relatives.
Make quiet times respected times. When your child acts up in church or other situations – and they will! – quickly and firmly take them out. This isn’t an easy out – there should be nothing fun or extra for them to do. Reinforce with them that this is quiet, reverent time, no matter where they are sitting. They can be quiet and still in the hallway with nothing to do, or they can quiet and still in the service with their reverent time quiet toy. It will not take long before even the youngest of children figures out that quiet with the Reverence Bag is better than quiet without it.
Familiarize them with reverent times from a young age. Babies can be a special challenge during times that reverence is preferred. I spent many worship services standing up in the back with a wiggly baby. But, by not taking them out, I reinforced that staying in the chapel was important. This prevented conditioning them to getting to go out by being wiggly.
Reverence is important for everyone, at certain times, whether you are in a religious family or not. We as citizens must stand reverently in line at the grocery store, display reverence at weddings and funerals, and really, just about any time we go out in public. Let’s raise our children to contribute to our society in a positive way by teaching them reverence now.
Do you have something like a Reverence Bag of quiet toys? What is it stocked with?